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The Reinvention of Shakespeare in Traditional Asian Theatrical Forms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2009


Especially during the later decades of the twentieth century, Shakespeare's plays have been adapted for production in many of the major Asian traditional theatrical forms – prompting some western critics to suggest that such forms, with their long but largely non-logocentric traditions, can come closer to the recovery or recreation of the theatrical conditions and performance styles of Shakespeare's times than can academically derived experiments based on scantily documented research. Whether in full conformity with traditional Asian styles, or by stirring ingredients into a synthetic mix, Min Tian denies that a ‘true’ recreation is possible – but suggests that such productions can, paradoxically, help us to ‘reinvent’ Shakespeare in fuller accord with our own times, notably by exploiting the potential of stylized gesture and movement, and the integration of music and dance, called for by proponents of a modernistic ‘total’ theatre after Artaud. In considering a wide range of Shakespearean productions and adaptations from varying Asian traditions, Min Tian suggests that the fashionably derided ‘universality’ of Shakespeare may still tell an intercultural truth that transcends stylistic and chronological distinctions. Min Tian holds a doctorate from the China Central Academy of Drama, where he has been an associate professor since 1992. The author of many articles on Shakespeare, modern drama, and intercultural theatre, he is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1998

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Notes and References

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