Saturday, July 31, 2010

IFTR Congress , Munich, Germany (25-30 August 2010)

Just returned from Munich, Germany, where I attended the Congress of the International Federation of Theatre Research, presenting on the first Indies Art Evening (The Hague, 1916)as a watershed event in the history of cultural internationalism. The basic argument I outlined will be in my book Performing Otherness: Java and Bali on International Stages, 1905-1952 (Palgrave, Nov 2010).

There were only a handful of other papers addressing Southeast Asian theatre and performance.

Barbara Hatley spoke about Yogyakarta's lively contemporary performance activities, including the Pasar Kangen (saying that his both sells and celebrates nostalgia) and the many locally based groups that construct community in a relaxed and happy atmosphere and and connect to a global audience via the www, facebook and so on. She focused particularly on Teater Garasi, and its resistance to essentialism (in Waktu Batu) and presentation of alternatives to Islamic modernism (in Its third major piece, titled Tubuh Ketiga (referencing Homi Bhabha's idea of the third space), is based on Tarling Dangdut in Indramayu. Barbara asked that while the piece nomimally deal with conflicted bodies, will it be received in 'party mode'? Tubuh Ketiga is still in rehearsal so it is difficult to say. It is due to tour Java in the autumn of 2010.

In addition to Barbara's presentation, Monica van der Haagen (formerly Monica Wulff) returned to the subject of her PhD research in the New Scholars Forum to show her performance installation addressing Losari-style topeng, Mata Hari and a deconstruction of colonial film of the Dutch Indies.

In the Asian Theatre working group, Kirstin Pauka discussed the reasons behind the decline of cross-gender performance in randai while Kaori Okado, an ISI Solo trained dancer, discussed her MA thesis topic of langendriyan.

There were also presentations in the conference from Catherine Diamond (on the popular theatres of bangsawan and cai luong), Lim How Ngean (on Malaysian tradition-based choreographer Azanin Ahmad) and meLe Yamomo (on opera in SE Asia).

The big issues of the conference revolved around the large-scale research projects of Erika Fischer-Lichte (on interweaving theatrical cultures) and Chris Balme (on global theatre history). There was much discussion about the use of 'intercultural theatre' and whether this was still a useful rubric for thinking about theatrical productions that combine different styles or forms associated with different cultures. Opinions varied, naturally.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Straits Times

I spent a day in September of last year looking at digitised back issues of the Straits Times at Singapore's national library. Now I've learned that the library has provided - free of charge - this same service on the world wide web. Content is even showing up on google. Above is an image from the paper of Raden Mas Utomo's dance group, which performed in Singapore in 1949, a year before it played London. Note that it has water marks on it - preventing it from commerical use, but still making it very valuable to researchers and the curious.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rahayu Supanggah and the Kronos Quartet

Ran into this nice, short video about last summer's workshop of Indonesian composer Rahayu Supanggah and the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet.

The site of the workshop was the Bali Purnati Center for the Arts, and perhaps not surprisingly the resultant piece is titled Purnati.

Doesn't seem like Kronos will be recording the piece. Reports have not been very positive from friends who have heard the result. For a first public play-through see also:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teater Tetas

Learned recently from a PhD student of mine working on Indonesian theatre that Teater Tetas, a theatre group from Jakarta, is appearing in the Contacting the World festival in Manchester.

As it turns out, another Indonesian group, CuciOtak from Pasuruan, also is appearing. Perhaps a first - at least here in the UK. I can't recall two Indonesian teater groups appearing side-by-side in an international festival. (With the exception of course of specifically Indonesian-themed festivals.) Has Indonesian teater come of age? Or is this just a fluke?