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  • From the Editor
  • Kathy Foley

This issue brings together a number of essays that focus not on performance itself but the stuff around it: the interpretations of a site used as the locale for texts in an essay by Paul Atkins, the flute in Mariko Anno's debut panel essay, and social and cultural contexts for the essays by Wu and Stevenson on jingju, Ahmed on a Bengali narrative tradition, Gosh on Indian street theatre, and Davis on Nepali work. Though ATJ usually focuses on performance in the strict sense of the word, these essays look at theatre in a wider frame and remind us that the concept of theatre as performance alone would make us miss much of the nuance and reality of Asian theatre.

A theme that links several of the essays is the vibrancy of theatre and how it reflects and affects political stresses. Ahmed's essay notes how a narrative tradition dedicated to St. Anthony in a Christian community negotiates rising Islamic fundamentalism. Davis dissects the difficulties of the recent Nepali political situation and shows how theatre reflects the disintegration of culture in narratives where families are riven and religious ideals, Hindu or Buddhist, are undermined by violence. Gosh shows how Janam, a socially dedicated company, responded to and depicted Hindu fundamentalism following the Gujarat riots in 2002 and then had to revise their work to keep it current as the political situation changed. Gosh sees "liveness" at the heart of Janam's work. And indeed it is the living and changing realities—as narrative, music, literature, and other elements of theatre change with the situation and the intents of makers—that are at the core of making important theatre.

We also continue the tradition of presenting bibliographies, this time via a review essay by Guo Yingde, who notes the trends in scholarship on traditional Chinese theatre genres. Guo's work should be useful for those of us who lack Chinese and are seeking the best works in English to read. His essay made me aware of how many good books and articles on Chinese theatre have appeared in the last decade. [Begin Page iii]

Kathy Foley
University of California, Santa Cruz