- From the Editor
After the ramlila special issue in Spring, we return to regular content with a full range of memorial essay, translation, articles, reports, emerging scholar essays, and performance and book reviews.
We start with an essay by Boreth Ly and Suppya Hélène Nut in memory of the recently deceased Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (1943–2019) of Cambodia, celebrating her life and contribution to the preservation of Khmer court dance, especially its revival in the aftermath of destruction by the Khmer Rouge.
By chance, there is a small cluster on the Chinese theatre, starting with Janne Risum's significant translation of the complete April 1935 minutes of the forum between Mei Lanfang and Soviet experts, at the end of Mei's Moscow tour, on Chinese theatre and its impact on Russian theatre, film, and dance. I highly recommend Risum's extensive and methodical introduction. She not only delineates and contextualizes the debate between Meyerhold and his supporters (including Eisenstein) on the one side and those with more official views on the other, but also Soviet censorship of the original transcript that resulted in various incomplete, even imagined versions in the following decades that have affected the narratives around this historic episode of intercultural exchange in the early twentieth century.
We next move to two articles on a couple of prominent contemporary Chinese directors, Meng Jinghui as the standard-bearer of the avant-garde and Wang Chong as a representative of the "post-Meng" generation. In her perceptive reading, Hongjian Wang deems Meng a "cynical idealist," which complements the current "pop avant-garde" frame of Meng scholarship, while Yizhou Huang critically assesses Wang Chong's multimedia production Ibsen in One Take against his self-claimed "new wave theatre."
The two other articles offer welcoming additions of less discussed areas to Asian theatre scholarship, namely popularizing [End Page v] efforts in modern Korean theatre singeuk (new drama) and the role of Armenians in establishing Western theatre in the Ottoman empire. In the former case, Jaesuk Kim utilizes contemporary publications to focus on the leading singeuk dramatist Yoo Chijin's effort to break the monopoly of realist spoken drama in the mid 1930s, with song and dance in the traditional The Story of Chunhyang and in Dorothy and DuBose Heyward's Porgy. In the latter case, Elif Baş examines both the contribution of non-Muslim minorities, especially the Armenians, who staged Western plays in Armenian and Ottoman Turkish, and the nationalist sensitivity of early Republican-era theatre critics in evaluating their contributions.
Following the translation and articles are three reports on currents practices of butoh and traditional forms from Bali and India. In "We Are Not Solid Beings: Presence in Butoh, Buddhism, and Phenomenology," Sondra Fraleigh channels her decades of experience, as a butoh student, performer, and scholar, to invite readers to an eco-somatic approach to butoh that emanates from Zen Buddhism and phenomenology. I Nyoman Cerita reports on the 2018 U.S. tour of Bhumi: Mother Earth, a production by the Bali-based Sanggar Çudamani (Çudamani Studio) with a focus on present environmental issues. Finally, Deepsikha Chatterjee offers a detailed and technical examination of the making of masks and costumes in Ankiya Bhaona, a form of ritual masked performance from the Assam region of India.
This year's three emerging scholar essays all focus on East Asia. Echoing Risum's discussion of Mei Lanfang's 1935 Soviet tour, Chao Guo examines Mei's earlier tours to Japan and the United States in 1919 and 1930 as reflections of the cultural anxiety by anti-traditional new culture intellectuals as well as traditional theatre artists and their intellectual allies. Sebastian Samur similarly echoes Fraleigh's focus on butoh, with a study of the choreographies of Muramatsu Takuya from Dairakudakan, the world's largest butoh troupe, although Samur relies on Henri Lefebvre's rhythmanalysis as a theoretical framework. In the final emerging scholar essay, Y.J Hwang utilizes Giorgio Agamben's concept of Homo Sacer—that state violence erases individual victims' most basic information concerning their deaths—to analyze the performance of cultural memory of the April 3 Incident (1948) in the Jeju Peace Memorial Park of Korea's...