Sunday, May 4, 2008

RE: Wayang

JN wrote
at 12:15pm

dude it might be out of the scope of your discussion but chinese opera is wayy more alive in hongkong and china. The Wayang as we know it in a modern theatre with smoke and lights and lip-synced and all the pantomine physical comedy sorta thing with VCDs, KTV albums and major merchandising for the auntie crowd. Was at one of those shows (for work) and the audience is not particularly any better behaved, (nuff to make any western theatre director cry at the insult, can't hardly blame them though, think the audience is old enough to have their ears and bladders long gone)

but for the struggling Singapore wayang troupes, it i simply 7th mth for the Gods and Gods and random ah ma, ah pek alone.

HT wrote
at 12:22pm

You are absolutely right, I'm not construing Wayang to be a privileged form in Singapore. On the contrary, I am fully aware that Hong Kong and China's treatment of Wayang has been much more receptive. There is also a long history in Singapore about the professionalization of the early postcolonial wayang troupes, and the politics between indoors/outdoors as cultivated by a constructed NAtional Aesthetic that had severe repurcussians on the troupes. What I am inerested in is the cultural "space" wayang occupies today, partially museumified, partially ghettocized, but always in a trapartite relation to Getai (which is itself a fascinating phenomenon), and theatrical forms of representation. Wayang has had a rich and complicated history in Singapore that threatens to withstand categorization or convenient narrative. There are implications to what you say about "Wayang as we know it in a modern theatre with smoke and lights" - and this transitory phenomenon was not accidental at all.

JN wrote
at 12:40pm

'cultural "space" wayang occupies today, partially museumified, partially ghettocized'- hmmmm very interesting line and very true for singapore.
yup even wayang has gone mainstream. Is this part of your coursework, cos it sounds like a one hell of a project. Especially if your tracing it from its migrant roots of individual threads of culture (dialects, systems of community control) and against the colonial control. National Asethetic? gee, its almost a misnomer, like describing the beauty of sterile concrete. Still, lacking asethetic is still not no asethetic especially for a nation that once declared that 'we have no time for poetry' (LKY, 1967 speech).

I bitch. Nahhh sounds like your onto something :) sweet.

HT wrote
at 2:12pm

Haha, the history is so complicated I'm not going to be able to cover everything. What I'm probably aiming for in talking about the cultivation of a national aesthetic is nothing implicitly jingoistic. In fact, cultivation already implies intervention, and in the 1970s, the intervention of Confucianism as a discursive viability had real consequences for the funding of opera troupes in Sinapore, followed by the reguation, control and marginalization of certain kinds of Opera. It is a mistake to conceive of Wayang as a nominal essence, easily forgetting that it is intrinsically so diverse, bearing multiple histories under a single umbrella term. Wayang has come to signify partially through feats of spatial disciplining by the government as well as certain socio-political affiliations.

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