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The Floating World of Nouveau Chinoiserie: Asian Orientalist Productions of Greek Tragedy

  • Catherine Diamond


Criticism is increasingly being levelled at western directors who, in the name of a vague intercultural aesthetic, embark on experiments combining western texts with various kinds of oriental movement, costume, and music. In this article, Catherine Diamond raises the same issues in regard to productions of western drama in Asia, and offers a detailed analysis of three productions of ancient Greek tragedies to reveal how a new kind of non-specific orientalism has come to pervade the international stage, originating no less in Asia than in the West. Lavish productions, mounted to impress the international festival circuit rather than to engage local audiences, appropriate western tragedies primarily on account of their status in the western literary and theatrical canon; and rather than offering new interpretations of the texts from a different cultural perspective, they contribute to the creeping ascendancy of superficially exotic spectacle. Catherine Diamond, a dancer and drama professor, is currently a director with Thalie Theatre, the only English-language theatre in Taiwan.



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, Aeschylus, trans. Fagles, Robert, The Oresteia (New York: Penguin Books, 1977).
Diamond, Catherine, ‘Cross-Cultural Adaptation: the Bridge or Breach in Taiwan Theatre’, Chungwai Literary Monthly, XXIII, No. 7 (12 1994).
Euripides, , trans. Milman, Henry Hart, The Bacchae, An Anthology of Greek Drama (New York: Rinehart., 1957).
Gilbert, Helen, and Tompkins, Joanne, Post-Colonial Drama (London: Routledge, 1996).
Gunawardana, A. J., ‘Is It the End of History for Asia's Modern Theatres?’, Theatre Research International, XXII, No. 1 (1997).
Huijun, Yang, ‘Give The Oresteia a Chance’, Performing Arts Review, No. 39 (01 1996).
Huizhao, Su, ‘Contemporary Legend Theatre's Oresteia’, Taiwan Times, 27 10 1995.
Shifang, Jiang, ‘Oresteia's Outdoor Performance’, China Times, 29 10 1995.
Shou-wei, Lin, interview with the author, Taipei, 7 10 1995.
Singleton, Brian, ‘The Pursuit of Otherness for the Investigation of Self’, Theatre Research International, XXII, No. 2 (1997).

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The Floating World of Nouveau Chinoiserie: Asian Orientalist Productions of Greek Tragedy

  • Catherine Diamond


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