Brandon's guide to theater in Asia by James R. Brandon

By James R. Brandon

From India to Japan, the theater of Asia spreads out like a super kaleidoscope. There are dance-dramas, ballets, masked pantomimes, operas, operettas, shadow-plays, puppet-plays, and extra. you'll discover not just actors and actresses, yet based and exquisitely costumed court docket dancers, musicians, singers, and chanters. you are going to pay attention songs and heroic narratives and flights of poetic discussion. Drums will thud and gongs will increase. all over you cross, the colours, attractions, and sounds will fluctuate vastly from position to position. however it isn't really effortless to find the place theaters are, what sorts of performs are being staged, or the hours, days, and seasons of functionality. The objective of this consultant is to assist the visitor in Asia locate and luxuriate in fascinating dwelling theater. The author's own event and wisdom of theater in Asia could be an necessary source to the vacationer who cares approximately theater, yet understands little approximately Asia.

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In other parts of Asia two or three clowns suffice; in Zat Pwe eight, nine, or ten clowns hold the stage in sequence, and they are usually superb performers. An average Zat Pwe troupe will have 100 or more members who will perform during the evening both a Pya Zat and a Zat Pwe play, in that order. Stars are idolized throughout the country. Major troupes are: Kenneth Po Sein Troupe, Shwe Mandhabin Zat Pwe Troupe, and Shweman Tin Maung Zat. Yokthe Pwe**, Burma's marionette play, has a history that goes back five hundred years.

I once caught a whole week of Honanese opera; it simply bowled me over. Performances are rare in Taiwan but you might be lucky. Local Taiwanese Po-the-hi*, glove-puppet plays, are performed in temple courtyards and in the streets. It is said three hundred troupes roam the island. They play three or four days in one location before moving on to the next. Two puppeteers, three musicians, and a couple of flash-powder technicians combine forces. Children love the crude, knockabout, blood-and-thunder tales of heroic warriors pitted against frightening monsters.

Where to Go Phnom Penh In recent years three commercial Lakon Bassak theaters have been open intermittently. By good fortune you might, just possibly, encounter a performance of one of the classical dramatic forms at the Theatre Municipal. A small collection of dance masks, costumes, and shadow puppets can be seen at the National Museum, near the Grand Palace. Les Corporations Cambodgiennes, just behind the Museum, is a national organization that encourages traditional artists. For sale are papier-mâché dance masks, rubbings of stone reliefs from Angkor depicting Apsaras dancing nymphs, and models of pin peat instruments superbly cast in bronze.

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