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  • From the Editor
  • Kathy Foley

Our field will greatly miss Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII. I invite scholars to take the time in future articles to evaluate the important work of figures such as him in more substantive ways to more fully acknowledge their contributions.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the second in the ATJ series: “Founders of the Field” (see Asian Theatre Journal 28, no. 2: 281–476), a group of short essays, which have again been solicited and edited by Siyuan Liu (University of British Columbia) and David Jortner (Baylor University). The symposium reflects some ideas first presented at the 2012 AAP Conference in Washington, DC, in a panel they organized. While this grouping in no way “finishes” the story started in the first installment, it does extend it, showing some new directions.

For example, in the last set we saw a generation coming largely from the United States, Europe, and Australia who became fascinated with Asian performance traditions as a number of the men received their first exposure to the forms during military service in World War II or the Korean War. In this second group we see mostly figures who began their study, teaching, and practice of theatre in the Cold War era. Daniel Yang from China/Taiwan and I Made Bandem from Indonesia, for example, are talented Asian artists who came to study for their PhDs in the United States, Yang with A. C. Scott at the University of Wisconsin and Bandem with Fredrik de Boer at Wesleyan University (both of their teachers were discussed in the first Founders of the Field Symposium), so in some sense we can say that they are “second generation.” Farley Richmond was an early student of James R. Brandon’s at Michigan State University. Schechner and Goodman found their own paths to Asia as travelers. So, with the possible exception of Benito Ortolani, who came to Japanese theatre research via a religious studies route, these individuals are part of the “next wave.” Travel was growing easier and funding was beginning to be available though area studies and international grants to promote East-West flows.

Though some of these researchers worked intensively on arts that seemed to be endangered or archaic (Farley Richmond on kutiyattam, [End Page iii] Ortolani on the religious roots of Japanese performance, and Bandem on gambuh as a root of Balinese performing arts), as a group over the long run they were as invested in the modern as in researching the past: Richard Schechner became the poster boy for American intercultural theatre and one of the major figures in cross-fertilization of anthropology, dance, and theatre studies. He blew some of the traditional Eurocentrism out of theatre studies, showing it was no longer mandatory to start that survey with the Greeks, even if some (Rustom Bharucha, for example) found his methods of borrowing and eclectic uses of Indian models too free for their taste. But while potshots were being taken as the emergent concepts of “Orientalism” and “PC” became part of the academic lingua franca and steps were made toward the construction of postcolonial discourses, this was part of the academy discourse of the period; as these men entered it was engaged in deconstruction, postmodernism, and gender and culture wars. It was natural that these would have their reflections in our field. Such crosstalk enriched our field and our thinking.

Interculturalism was also a part of the living experience of this group of artist-thinkers hitting their stride in the 1970s and 1980s. Daniel Yang became the head of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and then led the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre in its work. David Goodman was arriving in Japan at a moment of red-hot political theatre and he became a witness to and participant in the new theatre, documenting it in Concerned Theatre Japan. Farley Richmond began with modern theatre in India, stepped back to kuttiyattam, and has taken his Indian training to directing opera and explored new media in interface with Asian work. I Made Bandem, whom some wily press person dubbed the “Joe Papp of Bali,” has used his interests in traditional theatre to develop new-old performances. His reconstructions of gambuh...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. iii-v
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-14
Open Access
No
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