Shakespeare in Asia: Introduction

June 20, 2010

Written by Peter S. Donaldson, MIT

Co-authored by project co-founders and co-directors Alexander Huang and Peter Donaldson

While Shakespeare and Asia have been connected on stage and screen for centuries, Asia-related performances in Asia, the Americas, and Europe are currently experiencing an exciting new wave of creativity. Such encounters have generated extraordinary artistic and intellectual energy, leading to the transformation of traditions that has worked in both directions at once.

The center of creativity in Shakespeare performance is shifting from Europe and the U.S. to Asia, where directors such as Ninagawa Yukio, Suzuki Tadashi, Ong Keng Sen, Wu Hsing-kuo, and many others experiment with combinations of traditional and contemporary theatre, new strategies for working across languages and genres, new ways of reaching diverse audiences.

These works are widely recognized as among the most innovative and distinguished in the world; they are changing how we understand Shakespeare, serving as a forum for theatre artists to deal with such contemporary questions as national and Asian identity, and reshaping debates about the relation of East and West.

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