Tang Shu-wing’s Titus Andronicus 2.0 and a Poetic Minimalism of Violence

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

This extraordinary Hong Kong production of *Titus Andronicus* has been invited to the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival at the London Globe

Redacted from Howard Choy, “Toward a Poetic Minimalism of Violence: On Tang Shu-wing’s Titus Andronicus 2.0.” Asian Theatre Journal special issue edited by Alexa Huang, 28.1 (Spring 2011): 44-66.

(To watch the performance of Titus Andronicus 2.0 please click here.)


Tang Shu-Wing’s approach in Titus Andronicus 2.0 (Hong Kong: Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, 2009) shows his rejection of sensationalist and consumerist presentations of the violence in the script. Tang’s minimalism de-dramatizes violence via the narrative form of tale-telling, and then poeticizes it through the performance of the poetic body, creating a profound and thought-provoking production. Shakespeare’s most modern insight into the hellish darkness of humankind’s inhumanity is undoubtedly his invention of violence, be it expressed as war, vengeance, murder, rape, or any other form of cruelty and hatred. The questions left behind by the dramatist are: Which dramatic language is the most appropriate for presenting violence to today’s audience? Mimetic realism, stylized formalism, parodistic absurdism, or some other approach? Is violence actable? Are victims of violence representable? The issue is both ethical and aesthetical. And in the global context of geodramatics, between “Western” and “Eastern” productions, what kind of theatrical presentation can lead to an effective societal representation of violence? How can Asian theatre traditions enrich the exploration of the problematics of artistic (re)presentation of violence? Titus Andronicus, the most violent play attributed to Shakespeare, shows us how violence exercises its mighty power through human desires. It is a breathtaking thrill that has reemerged in recent decades to require us to rethink the present human condition in the world of violence. When the ancient Roman story was retold by Taiwanese, Japanese, and Hong Kong theatricians in the new millennium, Shakespeare was violently reinterpreted in Asia. (more…)