The Asian Theatre Working Group intends to broadly explore scholarly research on Asian theatre and performance. The Working Group not only studies Asian theatre and performance but also investigates their influence on and relationship to world theatre. Our group aims to discuss the technological and theoretical perspectives of Asian theatre in its entirety, including, but not limited to, authentic traditional forms, global contemporary applications, and Asian Western-style theatre. Most Asian theatres have experienced the clash between tradition and westernization, and now intend to dredge new methodologies and scholarly theories from their painful experiences. The vast diversity of Asian performance provides us many comparative perspectives and will inspire new theories on theatre. It is difficult to clearly define Asian theatrical plays and performance. It is not significant to lump together Asia, which varies so greatly both geographically and historically. Neither can the region be simply lumped together. It is also meaningless to seek alternative features without proper consideration by highlighting distinctive Asian attributes in sharp contrast to Western concepts. This attempt just works to place what has long been marginalized in the center, which ends up producing one alternative after another. However, it is undeniable that Asian plays and performances are characterized by their unique aesthetics and concepts. These aesthetics and concepts have not been focused on in Western theatre, but they certainly exist in Western theatre as well. From this perspective, the Asian Theatre Working Group focuses on the distinctive aesthetics and concepts intrinsic to Asian theatrical performance and incorporates them in the existing concepts behind Western theatre. This approach will contribute to gradually transforming the whole thinking framework of global plays.
a) Regular Project
Through this project we intend to publish a collection of study reports that focus on several key concepts concerning Asian theatre. Those key concepts include “hereditarity”, “informal training”, “amateurism”, “tradition”, “field or out-door performances”, “Flowers (Zeami)”, “presence of actors”, “aging”, “colonized”, “Westernized”, “repetitionality”, “masks” and “musicality” etc. In the project, our group selects one or two options from among these elements and presents papers at working group meetings. We will collect and compile those papers in four years. For example, we take “hereditarity” and “aging” as subjects. The researcher will give his or her presentation on those two concepts in Lisbon next year and hold a discussion. He or she will give a presentation again in Munich the year after next. In the following year, we will publish our research results in the form of the first volume of study collections.
b) Touring Research Project in Multiple Asian Cities
One of our most significant problems is the weak networking of Asian theatrical researchers. There are no strong networks established among them. Our group will organize small research society and hold meetings in several Asian cities to construct a tight-knit structure throughout the region. We will choose a subject unique to each city and hold workshops. An annual meeting will be held in summer during IFTR conference and we plan to organize its workshops, for example, from winter to spring. It is also a conceivable option to participate in theatrical festivals in each city. Or it would be conceivable to link with two projects above-mentioned. These two major projects constitute the essence of our activity.
Our group needs more than ten initial members from at least three countries. We will recruit those members as our first step. Membership is available only to those who have paid membership fees this year, and people who have joined another working group are ineligible to apply. To obtain formal endorsement as a working group, we must submit our blueprint to the governing body and gain acceptance.