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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.67, No.1, 23 ~ 44, 2021
Shakespeare and Asian Cultural Diversity: Encounters between East Asia and Southeast Asia on Shakespearean Stage
Younglim Han
This study discusses the ways that Shakespeare’s stories have captured the imaginations of East Asians and Southeast Asians on stage. Encounters between East Asia and Southeast Asia on Shakespearean stage place an emphasis on relevance and inclusivity within the stories. Their encounters are designed to speak to the extraordinary moments that call for multicultural and multilingual Asian productions. This study presents as exemplary cases two productions: Desdemona (2000) and Lear Dreaming (2012). Their retellings of Othello and King Lear are suggestive of what human beings resort to in order to maintain power over others, but at the same time give prominence to psychological and humane themes. These two Asian versions spring from the interest in stories about powerful families in conflict who are driven by ambitions, loyalties, and vendettas, while making decisions that affect each other. Desdemona and Lear Dreaming reinvent Shakespearean stories being told with new Asian twists and turns. Their stage practice is bound up with the ultimate examination of how Asian performing artists and Shakespearean characters are intertwined. Encounters between East Asian and Southeast Asian art forms have a direct bearing on how Asian cultural diversity is depicted on stage. They value the traditional contents of Asian performance styles, but at the same time go beyond classical values by employing modern technology such as visual and graphic arts. The integration of traditional and modern staging modes is set to redefine what Shakespeare’s stories mean to our own time and how they are relevant to contemporary audiences.
Key Words
Asian Cultural Diversity, Desdemona, Lear Dreaming, Shakespeare, Shakespearean stage
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