- From the Editor
This issue is heartening for the international spread of subjects and the number of Asian scholars who are represented and analyzing their own traditions with either local tools or reaching across Asian borders to use ideas from other theatres in the region. Authors are not just assembling the usual icons of twentieth-century Euro-American theory.
This indicates that perhaps our field is getting beyond the confines of contemporary Western academic theory. For example, Kyounghye Kwon points out the United Kingdom did not understand Oh Tae-suk’s Tempest, seeing it as “light” since viewers there did not understand the serious use of comedy in Korean performance traditions and theorizations. In a second example, Ghulam-Sawar Yousof and Kheng-Kia Khor, two Malaysian scholars, use the Indonesian theories of refined-coarse (alus-kasar) to analyze wayang kelantan puppetry. Given that Indonesia and Malaysia are often at odds over who owns their linked heritage and that Malay nationalism encourages scholars to limit their thinking to Malay-language sources, this analysis shows an attempt to break nationalist deadlocks. Such writing makes ATJ worth reading.
To become a truly international journal, cross-border research that does not always detour to Western thinking is much needed. It is limiting when authors feel they have to routinely apply Western tropes of gender, class, or aesthetics. Of course, Marx, Foucault, Butler, and the other usual suspects have been widely read around the globe, so discourses of semiotics, postmodernism, and postdramatic may fit globalized urban artists steeped in a co-joint international cultural “scene.” But one size does not fit all: too often theories created by and for Western political and social needs are used by academics (both West and East) to address situations in which local theories and practices can be more telling. We must remember that theory is not theoretical—it is about the practical needs of a particular place (often Euro-American areas), a particular time (often the present), and institutional forces (the academy). [End Page iii]
We must continually search for the right theoretical tool(s) for the time, place, and artwork engaged. Sometimes the tool will indeed be the current theory in style and the phenomena are actually related, but too often Western theory is a clumsy hammer. I hope that we can increasingly see that postcolonialisms, hybridities, and gender representations are diverse. Writers exploring local ideas and Asia-to-Asia links can birth new theories that grow from Asian practices and Asia’s changing spheres of culture. When this occurs, the writing will force the Western academy beyond its limited concerns and confines.