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Empathetic Exchange of Censored Scenes: Southeast Asian Theatre’s Bold Experiment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2022


At the 2021 Bangkok International Performing Arts Meeting (BIPAM), Southeast Asian dramatists presented new works that combined personal histories with the overarching political struggles in the region. One presentation, Deleted Scenes in SEA: Ownership Under Censorship, not only took up the issues of censorship and self-censorship but also entangled the distinct cultural identities of three countries – Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand – by reprising scenes formerly banned in them. The new versions were directed and performed in a language of one of the other countries. Adapting each other’s censored scenes, and re-enacting their similar experiences in countering political repression, required empathetic imagination, and could be a new theatrical platform for creating a sense of regional solidarity. Catherine Diamond is a Professor of Theatre and Environmental Literature at Soochow University, Taiwan. She is the author of Communities of Imagination: Contemporary Southeast Asian Theatres (University of Hawai’i Press, 2012) and the playwright/director of the Kinnari Ecological Theatre Project (KETEP) in Southeast Asia.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press, 2022

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