- From The Editor
Many of the articles in this issue explore variations of intercultural theatre. Who would have thought that Lee Gunsam, a noted Korean modern playwright, would have written his first plays in English while a student in the United States? Yet in Wook-Dong Kim’s essay we see how the Cold War led to educational exchanges that carried Kim to graduate study in America, impacting what he brought back to Seoul theatre. Siyuan Liu’s essay also discusses results of study in the United States, but on Chinese theatre makers, probing their failed attempts at anti-realist theatre immediately after their return. Loo Fung Ying and Loo Fung Chiat, meanwhile, explore an indigenized lion dance in Malaysia and note that lion dance as sport has gone to another level in Malaysian competitions that have in turn impacted other Sinophone areas. While to indigenize or not to indigenize has remained a question in Malaysia’s politically fraught environment, the authors focus on one troupe that brings together Malay and Tamil instruments with the normative Chinese percussion. The display relates to a current government 1Malaysia program, which seeks to defuse racial tensions that have become ensconced. Meanwhile, Tiffany Strawson shows how a group of “over-the-hill” Western women married to Balinese men have become a comic hit in Balinese temple ceremonies and other events by lampooning the local views of the outsider and allowing themselves to be laughed at and with as they address issues of gender and politics.
We have developed handy tropes in our writing about intercultural interactions of the past—for example, appropriators/orientalists for Westerners or brainwashed subalterns cowed by the colonial hegemon for the Asian artists who mix and match—and hybridity has of course risen in popularity in recent years. Characterizations are part of contemporary sociopolitical struggles. They are sometimes used to silence and often fail to look at the nuanced realities of intercultural work, which involves elements of class, indigenization, and cultural appropriation that have been going on in multidirectional and complicated ways from the precolonial period. Borrowings are not just East-West/West-East [End Page v] but also North-South/South-North, as Stenberg’s look at xiqu in Indonesia alerts us. Malaysian lion dancing reminds us how diasporas can impact homeland practices, as Chinese lions have their tails cut to allow feats first inspired by Malaysian competitions. Theatre allows for transgressions and transformation. Border crossing mixes things up and critiques the way we simplify, “selves” and “others,” the two categories of course are intertwined. [End Page vi]