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How do we account for a sense of centre and periphery when we think about and study theatre and performance from an international perspective? Is an ‘international’ perspective at all possible? Or is every performance irrevocably determined by its tangible ‘here’ and ‘now’, making everything else peripheral? And to what extent are questions of centrality determined by the dominant cultural or economic paradigms? Or is a multifocal international perspective consciously created in opposition to such hegemonic models?
Eugene O'Neill's Desire under the Elms (1924) has been adapted twice into traditional Chinese theatre (xiqu), or into Sichuan opera (chuanju) and Henan qu opera (henan quju) to be specific. A close reading of the adaptations reveals that the traditional theatre has been in a persistent search for intercultural perspectives, which at the same time also proves self-reflective. All through the two Desire adaptations there runs a significant indigenous vein, bringing to the American play a mixture of historical memories and contemporary experiences peculiar to China. Both scripts mirror the current spectacle of dramatic encounters between heterogeneous elements – native and foreign, traditional and modern – producing unceasing collisions and fragmentary images in the process. They nevertheless suggest the possibility of reaching a plateau where boundaries are crossed and seemingly incompatible elements merge. The kind of selective assimilation of modern Western thoughts and dramatic techniques evidenced here bring about a new turn in the traditional Chinese theatre.
This article analyses various approaches to the transposition of Chinese xiqu performance into moving-image media in terms of preserving xiqu's aesthetic aims. Pre- and post-Cultural Revolution filmic examples, as well as contemporary television serials, are discussed. I argue that within a ‘cinema of attractions’ rather than a realist line of inquiry, ‘filmed theatre’ continues as a viable and valued stream of access to xiqu performance for contemporary audiences.
Within the context of canonization processes, the career course of the British television dramatist Dennis Potter presents a unique case. Potter's career illustrates an instance of a dramatist also acting as a multifunctional media figure, who superseded the ‘typical’ primary makers of reputation (e.g. critics and academics) in shaping the perceptions of his work and in promoting his dramatic standing. Potter's authoritative power was facilitated by the infancy of television reviewing and television drama in the early 1960s. Given the innovative nature of his dramas, often extremely controversial, the reputation he achieved was largely the effect of his acquired fame as a media figure and, particularly, the evaluative criteria he himself established as a pioneering television critic: an expertise he further exploited as major commentator on his own work, all of which not only conditioned the reception of his works, but also influenced their eventual critical acclaim.
The Italian theatre company Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, led by Romeo Castellucci, began its passionate incursion into Italian theatre in the 1980s. Through an analysis of their most challenging critical texts and manifestos, as yet unpublished in English, this paper will examine the theoretical foundations of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio's oeuvre and the profound implications of the iconoclasm of their performances, and propose new means of deciphering their work. During the 1980s the company forged new linguistic and visual theatrical techniques, which were further developed through the 2002–2004 project, Tragedia Endogonidia. I argue that the relevance of their early work lies in their theoretical and practical widening of the parameters of representation. Excerpts from manifestos and texts written by Romeo and Claudia Castellucci, along with critical texts related to their work, are unless otherwise indicated translated into English by the present author.
This overview of theatre research in the Nordic countries presents some characteristic features that can be traced in recent scholarly publications. After explaining what ‘Nordic’ means in this context, the first section describes the marks that the general theoretical development in the field has made among notable Nordic scholars, especially in research on contemporary performances. ‘Artistic research’ is the Scandinavian equivalent to ‘practice as research’ and this branch of research has recently advanced very quickly and along various organizational lines. The writing of theatre history, especially on the controversial issues of the 1930s and 1940s, are investigated in the next section. Finally, the establishment of national theatre histories has proved to be highly political, especially in Sweden, where three histories of Swedish theatre have been published in four years. In conclusion, the author expresses his optimistic view of the future of theatre studies in the Nordic countries.