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Intimations of the Local in a Globalised World
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This volume examines how Indigenous theatre and performance from Oceania has responded to the intensification of globalisation from the turn of the 20th to the 21st centuries. It foregrounds a relational approach to the study of Indigenous texts, thus echoing what scholars such as Tui Nicola Clery have described as the stance of a “Multi-Perspective Culturally Sensitive Researcher.” To this end, it proposes a fluid vision of Oceania characterized by heterogeneity and cultural diversity calling to mind Epeli Hau‘ofa’s notion of “a sea of islands.”

Taking its cue from the theories of Deleuze and Guattari, the volume offers a rhizomatic, non-hierarchical approach to the study of the various shapes of Indigeneity in Oceania. It covers Indigenous performance from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Hawai’i, Samoa, Rapa Nui/Easter Island, Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. Each chapter uses vivid case histories to explore a myriad of innovative strategies responding to the interplay between the local and the global in contemporary Indigenous performance. As it places different Indigenous cultures from Oceania in conversation, this critical anthology gestures towards an “imparative” model of comparative poetics, favouring negotiation of cultural difference and urging scholars to engage dialogically with non-European artistic forms of expression.
Rooted in a range of approaches to the reception of classical drama, the chapters in this book reflect, in one way or another, that Greek and Roman drama in performance is an ongoing dialogue between the culture(s) of the original and the target culture of its translation/adaptation/performance. The individual case studies highlight the various ways in which the tradition of Greek and Roman plays in performance has been extremely productive, but also the ways in which it has engaged, at times dangerously, in political and social discourse.
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Against the backdrop of an insurgent far right and numerous deadly neo-Nazi attacks, various cultural practitioners have written far-right violence into Germany’s collective memory and imagined more inclusive futures in its wake. This volume explores contemporary examples from literature, music, theatre, film, television and art that respond to this situation. They demonstrate that, alongside the ways in which art expands the public sphere in terms of what is said and who is heard, aesthetic questions of how artistic works are presented are a crucial part of how they open up new perspectives.
The Hero on Stage from the Enlightenment to the Early Twenty-First Century
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Hercules Performed explores the reception of the ancient Greek hero Herakles – the Roman Hercules – on the western stage from the sixteenth century to the present day, focusing on live theatre, including tragedy, comedy and musical drama. Each chapter considers a particular work or theme in detail, exploring the interplay between classical models and a wide variety of modern performance contexts. The volume is one of four to be published in the Metaforms series examining the extraordinarily persistent figuring of Herakles-Hercules in western culture, drawing together scholars from a range of disciplines to offer a unique insight into the hero’s perennial appeal.
Volume Editor:
This publication brings together current scholarship that focuses on the significance of performing arts heritage of royal courts in Southeast Asia. The contributors consist of both established and early-career researchers working on traditional performing arts in the region and abroad. The first volume, Pusaka as Documented Heritage, consists of historical case studies, contexts and developments of royal court traditions, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The second volume, Pusaka as Performed Heritage, comprises chapters that problematise royal court traditions in the present century with case studies that examine the viability, adaptability and contemporary contexts for coexisting administrative structures.

Abstract

Royal courts throughout history have engaged with the performing arts. Practitioners, patrons, the lay public, casual tourists and trained scholars speak of ‘the court arts’, reifying this descriptor as a meaningful category for discourse. This chapter endeavours not so much to describe the arts associated with the courts of Java as to ask how these arts are and have been understood by the various observers and stakeholders, now and in the past. Are there defining stylistic qualities that set court music or dance or theatre off from non-court? Are there cultural values imbued in these arts, inherent in their very structure as they unfold in performance? How portable are these arts – retaining their value and meaning in performances outside the courts, or do they invariably undergo changes in value and meaning? The chapter combines a scrutiny of written discourse from the late colonial era to the early twenty-first century that address Javanese court performing arts, combined with personal conversations I have had since the early 1970s with Javanese, other Indonesians and foreign observers. With regard to stylistic particulars, the focus is primarily on music – gamelan ensemble music and related vocal practice (karawitan) – considering aspects of musical structure, playing techniques, physical and visual characteristics of the instruments themselves, as well as player and audience expectations and behaviour. The analysis proposes a view of the performing arts practised in the courts as navigating between exclusivity and permeability, from earlier times down to the present.

In: Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia, Volume Two

Abstract

The musicians of the Fine Arts Department (Krom Sinlapakon) of the Royal Thai government teach and maintain the elite court music traditions in Thailand. Many of these musicians also teach in the 12 branches of the College of Dramatic Arts (Wittayalai Nattasin) and other public and private schools. While they teach standard repertoire to all their students, the repertoire for the string instruments with Javanese oboe ensemble (khrueangsai pii chawaa) is regarded to be very difficult, improvisatory and appropriate for only a few musicians to perform, and so is rarely taught to any students or other professional musicians in the College of Dramatic Arts. The ensemble, which is closely associated with royal literature and is a musical expression of royal authority, is rarely performed and kept largely outside the gaze of ordinary spectators and even the Thai classical music community. Keeping the ensemble as exclusive as possible elevates its status and the status of those permitted to perform it. There are musicians outside the Fine Arts Department who know the repertoire and have the ability to perform in this ensemble, but they have no acceptable place to perform publicly. In this chapter, I examine selected cases of musicians who have exceeded their authority and performed khrueangsai pii chawaa outside the Fine Arts Department, despite criticism they received. These cases illustrate the tensions that arise within the Thai musical community over the transmission, expression and assertion of social status connected to royal authority.

In: Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia, Volume Two

Abstract

This chapter discusses historical and recent developments in Javanese court dance through the personal experiences of the two authors, both practising performers who later became dance scholars and critics. The initial part of the discussion focuses on the traditional court dances of four royal palaces of central Java – Kasunanan Surakarta, Kasultanan Yogyakarta, Kadipaten (Pura) Mangkunegaran in Surakarta and, especially, Kadipaten (Pura) Pakualaman in Yogyakarta. The origins of the courts’ classical dance forms can be traced back to the sultanate of Mataram which emerged as the leading political state in the interior of Java in the late sixteenth century. The detailed case study of Pura Pakualaman offers insights into how court dance traditions have been maintained through the patronage of successive rulers and the constant recultivation of the art form. These practices are then contrasted with contemporary Javanese dance outside the courts, with reference in particular to the work of the celebrated dancer, choreographer and artist Bagong Kussudiardja and other modern dance performers and performances. The discussion suggests that much modern dance is in thrall to the market, that is has become a performing art for sale. In contrast, a case is made that good choreography should not only be beautiful and attractive but also present rasa or soul, the essence of the Javanese aesthetic. More importantly, dance should also bear meaning and be related to life.

In: Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia, Volume Two

Abstract

Music, dance and ceremonies associated with Kaili royalty depict the presence of ethnic-specific genres and the exchange of tangible and intangible heirlooms (pusaka) with neighbouring kingdoms. Located in Central Sulawesi, Kaili lands (ngata Kaili) experienced the formation of distinct kingdoms at the periphery of four historical centres, namely South Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, the Sulu Zone and Maluku. With shared practices as an ethnicity (Kaili) and idiosyncrasies with distinct courts, dialects and lineages, Kaili kingdoms maintained a legacy of traditions serving as status signifiers in honour of nobility circles (maradika), and a heritage signifying local customs of each court and links to other kingdoms. The Kaili heritage experienced changes together with the transformations of the Indonesian political climate after independence in 1945, particularly during the national process of centralisation and standardisation of the performing arts during the New Order (Orde Baru) era (1967–1998), and once again during the process of decentralisation of government operations that gave a greater autonomy to the performing arts after 1998. In view of the dynamic, evolving and adapting role of Kaili performance traditions associated with the nobility, this chapter analyses the forms in three diachronic eras: the Kaili kingdoms before 1945; the centralised national Indonesian government after 1945; and the decentralised neo-royal provincial government in Central Sulawesi after 1998. The chapter considers the following as examples of performing arts development for each era: the Kaili vaino mourning song in remembrance of deceased royalty and the balia healing ritual forms performed for royalty; royal links of the kakula gong-row heritage; and the pajoge maradika royal dance form.

In: Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia, Volume Two

Abstract

This chapter provides a prolegomena and general frame for the volume Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia: Pusaka as Performed Heritage. It considers emic and etic gazes upon court music of the region. Five selected strategies for engaging court music – the descriptors of the chapter’s subtitle – consider such themes as agency and appropriation. Examples and data come from historic/nation-state sites including Khmer/Cambodia, Java/Indonesia, Lan Xang/Laos, Malaya/Malaysia, Sulu/the Philippines and Siam/Thailand. The domestication of the South Asian Ramayana is a particularly rich resource for pan-Southeast Asian heritage and history; diachronic examination also includes nationalised and staged performances of Balinese and Philippine forms. European court musics under colonial and non-colonial circumstances also receive attention.

In: Performing Arts and the Royal Courts of Southeast Asia, Volume Two