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  • From the Editor
  • Siyuan Liu

The articles, emerging scholar essays, and reports in this issue fall into three categories: ritual and religious theatre, contemporary theatre and the state, and the performance of identity.

The first two articles and one of the reports are devoted to religious and ritual performance, all based on performance observations and analyses, in addition to historical and literary analysis in the case of the articles. Among them, Pamela Lothspeich uses ras (or rasa) and affect to explain the popularity of a particular version of the Ramayan(a) story from the early twentieth century, known as the "Radheshyam Ramayan," in the devotional dramatic festival of Ramlila in Bareilly, hometown of the version's author Pandit Radheshyam Kathavachak. Writing on a similarly archetypal Buddhist story in China titled Mulian Rescues His Mother, Josh Stenberg uses its 2017 revival in Fujian Province to examine the changing fate of religious and ritual theatre in the country, from its censorship in the early years of the People's Republic to its revival in recent years as intangible cultural heritage. Completing this thematic cluster is Jian Xie's report on local community ritual theatre in Guangxi Province in south China, with focus on Taoism-based rituals performed within a specific kingship group (zongzu) that serve both the living and the dead, with performance by ritual specialists and dramatic pieces based on well-known plays.

Stenberg's discussion of the entangled relations between theatre and the state is echoed in the four articles on contemporary performance, starting from Haili Ma's discussion of the fate of errenzhuan, a Northeast Chinese folk peasant sing-song form that rose to tremendous popularity through such spotlights as the nationally televised Chinese New Year gala, only to crumble under political changes in recent years. In contrast to Ma's focus on the party state as a "central bank," the other three articles are written from the perspective of the artists. This angle is especially prominent in I-Yi Hsieh's and Jae Kyoung Kim's respective studies of the activist tent theatre in East [End Page iii] Asia, with lineage to the Japanese angura (underground) movement of the 1960s. Hsieh considers the work of the Japanese director Sakurai Daizhou and his practice throughout East Asia, focusing on such a production in Taipei, Tokyo, and Beijing that is based on an anti-eviction protest of a Taipei sanatorium. Such theatrical activism is also at the center of Kim's discussion of the 2017 Black Tent Theatre project in Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square that was part of the demonstration against then president Park Geun-hye. Finally, Amin Azimi and Marjan Moosavi introduce an Iranian perspective with two Shakespearean adaptations. Through the lens of "critical cultural dramaturgy," they examine the adaptations of King Lear and Hamlet by the playwright Mohammad Charmshir and playwright/director Atilā Pesyāni, which were inspired by Persian wisdoms and Iranian performance forms such as the commemorative theatre ta'ziyeh, epic storytelling naghāli, and comic improvisatory drama rū-howzi. These adaptive strategies changed Lear to a mystic traveler and Hamlet to a laughing prince, the latter partially aimed at offering commentary on current affairs while circumventing state censors.

The final group of essays examine the subject of identity and its performance in Japanese, Chinese, and Indian theatre and performance. Reginald Jackson theorizes the role of masculinity in performing feminity in nō Dōjōji, specifically by examining the fraternal bonds both within the monastic community that forms the play's environment and the play as an initiation ritual in the all-male world of professional actors. This issue of the performer's professional (or amateur) identity is at the core of Alex Rogals' study of the Sagi School of kyōgen actors, the third and only school of this comedic genre that has been a community-based practice since the Meiji era, in sharp contrast to the other two schools of professional actors. Moving to China, Megan Ammirati studies the strategies of impersonating race, gender, and class in modern Chinese theatre huaju, through the 1959 black-face adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin. She considers the plays' impersonation choices as "a politically fluid performance...


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pp. iii-iv
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