By Catherine Diamond
This booklet explores the modern theatre of 9 Southeast Asian international locations. the writer examines modern functionality within the context of its historic precedents and indicates the way it has been formed by way of neighborhood cultural practices and socio-political forces. The nations lined are Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, and Malaysia.
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Despite the intention of the director and the Ministry to create a prestigious performance, Bacchae was a contentious choice in Malaysia. The plot, which centers on Pentheus being punished for not acknowledging Dionysus as a true deity, ran into problems with officials in the Ministry and almost every aspect of the play had to be compromised to allow the production to proceed. The authorities insisted that because Islam is the state religion and accepts the existence of no god but Allah, Dionysus had to be recast as a demigod, a move that undermined the central point of the play.
Mae Naak first appeared on stage during the reign of Rama VI (King Vajiravudh), when she was the first ghost to be featured in a play: “the plot basically involved an actress who played Mae Naak, a coffin and screaming people. 19 When a 1970s film version was shown, her angry spirit was said to have emerged from the screen and grabbed someone in the audience because the cinema owner had not made an offering to her before the show. 20 Among her recent stage manifestations was Mae Naak—A Love Story (2003), a three-act opera at the Thailand Cultural Center.
Fortune-tellers and vendors, selling everything from cold drinks to turtles and birds that one can buy and set free to obtain merit, congregate in its courtyard. Beneath tall broad takien trees wrapped in multicolored ribbons by devotees, the jerry-built shrine has walls lined with glass cases filled with women’s traditional dresses. Offerings of dolls, flower garlands, baby bottles, incense, makeup, cakes, and fruit are set before a seated figure whose face is covered in flakey gold leaf pressed upon it by her worshippers.
Communities of Imagination: Contemporary Southeast Asian Theatres by Catherine Diamond