Asian Theatre Journal 18.2 (2001) iii-iv
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From the Editor
A quick glance at this issue's table of contents will immediately make clear the preoccupation of most authors with matters of some political import. S. Shankar's translation of Komal Swaminathan's award-winning Indian play Water! is as overtly political as a play can get, dealing as it does with the oppression of penniless peasants who have to fight obtuse authorities for every drop of water their parched village can scrounge. Swaminathan's play offers a direct link to Darren Zook's essay on the problems of developing appropriate methodologies of creating Indian political theatre--especially in regions where the efforts of theatre artists are subverted by the irony of the sociopolitical conditions under which they must exist. Xiaomei Chen takes us to contemporary China to examine the search for the appropriate mix of form and content in the modern spoken dramas of post-Mao communist society, while Wenwei Du seeks to discover how classical dramas of the Yuan era, revived in today's China, can have social and political relevance for contemporary audiences.
The next three essays, all winners of the annual competition for the Association of Asian Performance Debut Panel, were presented at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference held in Washington, D.C., in July 2000. The first article, Marlene Pitkow's look at kathakali performance, deals essentially with aesthetic concepts. The next contribution, by Erica Stevens Abbitt, is concerned with issues of gender in Japanese performance--a politics of the body, so to speak. The final debut paper, by Shinko Kagaya, however, returns us to a view of theatre in relation to the traditional idea of politics in its governmental phase when she discusses the role played by early twentieth-century performances of no outside Japan as part of Japanese colonialist practices.
As well, most of the books (and the single video) reviewed in this issue are concerned with matters of theatre (and film) as an entity in the larger political arena. Thus, while aesthetic concerns are certainly [End Page iii] not forgotten, what follows reminds us once again that the theatre in modern Asia not only affords artistic pleasure but demonstrates that theatrical art is invariably either a handmaiden or--more likely--an adversary of the powers that be. And it is this relationship that invests art with life.
One Further Note
In October 2000, Japanese Theatre and the International Stage, which I coedited with Stanca Scholz-Cionca, was published by Brill. Unfortunately, in preparing the final version of the manuscript I inadvertently omitted the entry for Christina Nygren from the list of contributors at the rear of the volume. Although Professor Nygren, who wrote the excellent essay on "Tabi Shibai," was very gracious about this embarrassing oversight, I want to make it up to her, even if in only a small way, by providing the missing biodata material here.
Christina Nygren is research fellow at the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is associate professor in the Department of Theatre Studies, Stockholm University, and affiliated with the Institute of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University, as a researcher and teacher. Her current research project is called "Perspectives on Popular Theatre," and she is studying Bengal in its religious, artistic, and social context as a site for popular theatre and dance. She is also collaborating in a nationwide research project dealing with literature in a global perspective. Professor Nygren has done research at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing and at the Faculty of Letters, Osaka University. She holds a Ph.D. in theatre studies from Stockholm University (1993). Her publications include Frukter från P¨arontr¨adgården: Teater i Kina (Fruits from the Pear Garden: Theatre in China; 1986); Zeami--Ett modernt japanskt drama: Inledning, tolkning och kommentarer (Zeami--A Modern Japanese Drama: Introduction and Annotated Translation; 1990); M¨ote mellan ¨Ost och V¨ast: Metafor och konvention i en japansk shingeki-f¨orest¨allning (Encounter Between East and West: Metaphor and Convention in a Japanese Shingeki Performance; 1993...