This chapter examines modern spoken Asian theatre's complex relationship with traditional and folk performance in the past century. Examples from India, Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia all point to a pattern of initial mixture of western and traditional forms in the development of a new form of theatre. It was then followed by an almost complete rejection of indigenous modes of total theatre and entertainment in pursuit of social critical and illusionist realism in the mode of Ibsen and Stanislavski, which limited modern theatre to the urban elite or, in the words of James Brandon, 'unpopular theatre' (1967: 39).1 By the second half of the century, influenced by western absurdist theatre and internal changes - independence (India and Southeast Asia), anti-American movement (Japan), liberation from authoritarianism (Korea) or awakening from cultural nihilism (China) - spoken theatre re-embraced indigenous performance.
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© 2016 selection and editorial material, Siyuan Liu; individual chapters, the contributors. All rights reserved.