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After Appropriation Author(s): Craig Latrell Source: TDR (1988-), Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter, 2000), pp.

44-55 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 29/03/2014 03:04
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After Appropriation
Latrell Craig

We tend to thinkof "intercultural transfer" or "artistic borrowing" primarilyas a one-way phenomenon,somethingdone "by" the West "to" other thisphenomenonhas (at rhetoric cultures.'Much of the critical surrounding with an accusatory Western least in theatrecriticism) tone, popular culture as a sort of over local cultures, pictured helpless juggernaut,rolling taking what it wantsand in the processruining and hofragile indigenousartforms mogenizingall culture,turningthe world into a lowbrow combinationof and Disney. In thisview, Westernculture(elaborating Baywatch upon Edward Said's [1978] famousconstruction of Orientalism)is inevitablydepicted as crassand unstoppable, while Easterncultures are represented as refined, delito the West. The favored termicate, passive,exotic,and spiritually superior with the West painted as a bellicose male (plundering, nology is military, and as a defenseless (and, by implicaraping)and Asia represented pillaging, be tion, female)victim.Thus, the dynamicof colonialismmust necessarily betweenWesternartists and Easternforms, and playedout in any interaction in cultureis represented the "traffic" as irrevocably one-way. In thisarticleI examine the representation of intercultural in current transfer theatrecritimoreflexible, and locallybased model. cism,and advocatea different, One example of criticism based in the binaryoppositionof Westernand Asian culturesis John Russell Brown's (1998) article"Theatrical Pillage in Asia: Redirecting the Intercultural Traffic."Brown likens directorsPeter Brook and ArianeMnouchkine (two of the past decade's mostvisiblepractitionersof intercultural to "raidersacrossa frontier," that transfer) remarking clothesas theirloot and tryto wear themas if to the "theybringback strange manner born" (1998:9). The authordecriesthe use of artistic forms from other cultures on two levels:he feelsthat"foreign" forms cannotexpress the realities of contemporary Westernsociety;and, the presenceof Westerners in other cultures ruinsthe forms inevitably theydesireto explore-they "leave wreckage behindthemas theyspreadknowledgeof ancienttheatres amongjournalists and tour promoters" (I I). In describingthe dynamic of intercultural borrowing,Brown repeatedlyemploysthe language of war and violation, intercultural as "looting," as if non-Western characterizing experimentation were one-of-a-kind to be playedwith, performance genres objects,too fragile Asian theatresas adapted, or otherwisehandled by outsiders.He portrays "defenceless from another and deniestheverypossiagainst predators society," of exchange,saying thatit "cannotworkequitably in two directions bebility tween two verydifferent societiesand theatres: West and East, modernand
? 2000 The Drama Review 44, 4 (T168), Winter 2000. Copyright and theMassachusetts Institute New York University of Technology.


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45 After Appropriation

anddisadvantaged" if ancient, words, (12). In other economically advantaged artistic between cultures be cannot it borrowing accomplished "equitably" atall. shouldn't happen Brown's solution to cultural is to advocate of only theborrowing pillage thelessvisible ofnon-Western elements suchas audience-stage performance, or acting theuse ofimprovisation (for styles relationships, example, during Such he are the"most and[will] do feels, performance). borrowings, practical theleast harm" to the"target" cultures. Yet Brown doesnotseemto recognizethat these formal elements areas much ofa distinct expressions sensibility as anyother of a theatrical to form: condemn the ofcertain aspect borrowing of while others himin non-Western performance places aspects permitting ofcultural theposition whichelements areappropriate gatekeeper, deciding for artistic andwhich must be left alonefor the experimentation byforeigners to undisturbed. "natives" practice inYetitis noteven Brown's so much as hismethod ofrepresenting argument that is so troubling. in a long tercultural transfer Hisis thelatest ofremarkstring articles which have over thepast decade, ably similar-sounding appeared including those Rustom Patrice Gautam and Carl Pavis, Bharucha, Weber, by Dasgupta, These allforeground andperpetuate of others. writers and many images inequality in interculturalism, victimization on theperceived ofthephecentering politics tothenear ofany nomenon exclusion other considerations. here One caninclude suchrepresentations as Pavis's(1996:13)description ofWestern culture as i. Scene the1995profrom culture" to non-Western ofidentity") and duction "cultures Broken Birds: (as opposed "Disneyland of Weber's ofWestern as "a second cultural colo- An Epic Longing,con(1991:28)characterization export nization." Evenwhen writers admit the that intercultural transfer anddirected possibility might ceived byOng in take cultures other than our the is still as a KengSen,Singapore. own, phenomenon described place when Balme asserts one,as for primarily political example Christopher (following (Photo byLilenUy; cour"The Empire SalmanRushdie'sfamous writes Theatre Works back") in his book tesy phrase Ltd.) of
theStagethat"theatrical is in Decolonizing syncretism mostcasesa conscious, to fashion programmatic strategy a new form of theatre in thelightof colonialor postcolonialexperience" interculturalism (1999:2). In short, is portrayed as something thatcan onlybe "explained" of powerbetween Eastand West,and the by inequities ultimate effect of suchcriticism is to keep thespotlight focused on the West--"their" attemptsat firmly mustbe motivated interculturalism by "our" former colonization.The idea thatartists in othersocieties of Western be usingelements fortheir culture might own reasons is rarely entertained. But why should we deny to other cultures the same sophistication and multiplicity of responseto influences that we to "foreign" grant ourselves in works? Why shouldwe assume viewingnon-Western that intercultural transfer is primarily a politically based, one-wayphenomenon-a cultural monologue rather thana dialogue?While it's truethattheglobalizationof Western culture meant (by whichis usually Americanmovies,television, has music,and fashion) in one way or another affected in nearly everyculture the world (and has no doubt accelerated the pace of the processthrough which this intercultural transfer), happensis likelymore complicatedthanthe simple victim-victimizer narrative described above. Why not with the assumption start thatothercultures are not

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of of Westernideas and images,but activemanipulators just passivereceivers is not simply a one-wayproand thatintercultural such influences, borrowing as Western such farmoreinterestingly artists, tion in Singapore (1870cess,but something dialogic? Just Ariane as directors Peter Peter Mnouchkine, Sellars, Brook, Julie Ping Chong, 1940) concerning Japanese of foreign art elements takeformal and/ornarrative women whowere tricked or Taymor,and manyothers them in theirworks,so too non-Westernartists formsand recontextualize into forced prostitution in novel,sophistireinvent influences and self-consciously Western in Singapore knowingly (karayuki-san) are for reasons that bothpolitically sometimes humorous and andother Southeast cated, ways-and parts of motivated. Asia at the endofthe19th and artistically (including syncretism Examplesof interculturalism and its resulting Produced "hybrid" or "fusion" forms)are everywhere.Such forms by century. formof music abound (forexample) in Indonesia,fromthe popularJakarta Theatre Works Ltd.,BrowithitsPortuguese, Middle Eastern, and Indian(film ken Birdswasperformed calleddangdut, music)inof with conventions realism to television sitcoms Western at FortCanning fluences, blending Park, clown. As Laurie Sears characters such as the transvestite Javanese-influenced Singapore,1-18 March have kulit "traditional" forms such as wayang has pointedout, even supposedly 1995. (Photo by Lilen Uy; traditional characters with been and Theatre Works commodified, modified, wayang co-opted courtesy of Indonesianplayon television and in comic books. Contemporary appearing Ltd.) wrightssuch as Nano Riantiarno blend elementsof Western realismand and references to mythiccharacters Brechtiandevices withJavaneseludruk Yet thelack of a critical from theRamayana. alongwiththeattracvocabulary, to recogtivesimplicity of thebinary-opposition model,have made it difficult in thesetransactions. nize-let alone analyze-exactlywhatis occurring thatone fruitful in thevisualartssuggests Recent criticism maybe approach in For example, betweencultures. to takea morelocalizedview of theinterplay of the CentreforCrossNicholasThomas (Director his 1999 book Possessions, the artsof examines NationalUniversity), CulturalResearchat the Australian view thecolonizer/colonized as his starting settler colonies,taking pointneither ofglobalization, "whichsupposethat arttodayis defined norpopularnotions by

BrokenBirdswasinAlku & spired bythebook ProstituKarayuki-San:


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47 After Appropriation the linksbetweenall parts of the world" (1999:8). Thomas'sis a morespecific and dialogicpointof view of thesecommunities. His book, whichhe characterizes as "anthropological art history," examines the of both colonial workings and indigenoustraditions of art through local responses, ratherthan "sociological abstractions" (18). Takinga similar point of view in her study of Javanese wayang kulit, Sears shows how "the actions of local [Javanese] 'as situated intelligentsias, social agents,' were impelled by theirown logics and needs and how these activitiesintersected, obstructed,or occasionally meshedwithDutch efforts to representand control and hisJavaneseliterary toricalproductions"(Sears 1996:15). In theirrecognitionthatculturalexof aesthetic a variety as well as localizedpolitical changeis a dialogueinvolving factors,these critics point the way to a more sophisticatedapproach to interculturalism. To take a verysimpleillustration of the way non-Western artists interact withWestern the Minangkabau traditional musicensemble at thetourforms, istcenterin Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, includesin itsprogram a vercasually sion of a Britishdisco hit (the ever-popularRiverofBabylon by Boney M) the disco beat to fitconventional playedon the gongs,considerably altering In doing so, the musicians are in effect Minangkabaurhythms. changingthe form of disco musicas much as theyare beingchangedby borrowedWestern it; the resulting hybrid contains elements of both Western disco and music,but it is by no means a politicallyinspired Minangkabautraditional product. Far fromabandoning or taintingformerly pure local forms,the musicians are assimilating new influences, and in the processinterSumatran what theyborrow. Such complicated interactions betweenborrower preting and borrowedare the rulerather thanthe exception, and narratives of passivhave little ityand neocolonialism place in thiskindof creative activity. The act of borrowing itself who is doingit) is an essentially cre(no matter ativeand artistic and one that deserves to be examined as an aesthetic one, phenomenon rather thansimplyas a demonstration of (or reactionto) political MarvinCarlson(1996) has pointedout,thereare manydifferpower.As critic ent relationships betweenthe culturally familiar and the culturally and foreign, thisis reflected in the greatdiversity of artistic Such borrowings borrowing. of themostvisibleand sometimes elements rangefrom appropriation superficial of an unfamiliar form and staging forexample)to deeper (costumes techniques, at syncretism, and theyrepresent different aesthetic attempts goals on the part of the artist/creator. What follows are analyses of threedifferent of intertypes

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CraigLatrell cultural transfer some of the different levels of borrowing illustrating possible betweencultures as well as therolethat local cultures playin suchborrowings. transfer occurswhen an artist Perhapsthe mostfamiliar typeof intercultural borrows from a outside her own culture and inperformance techniques genre sertstheminto new performance contexts withoutregardto indigenousculturalmeanings. This is thesortof contextless whichhas been vilified borrowing as looting,plunder,or pillage,and which is typicalnotjust of such worksas Brook's Mahabharata and musicvideossuch (1989) but of television advertising, as those ofJanetand Michael Jackson. Yet thisphenomenonis by no means limitedto Westernartists. To illustrate, I am going to draw examplesfroma called Broken An EpicLonging, Birds: in Singapore in 1995 production presented and directed TheatreWorks, by thatcountry's majortheatre company, by Ong director of TheatreWorks and latera colleagueof mineat the Keng Sen, artistic National University of Singapore.More recently, Ong has created a "panAsian" KingLearin Japan, a wide variety of Asiantheatre forms, incorporating and he has also directed at New York'sPublic Theatre. Broken Birdswas inspired Accordingto the program, by the book Alku & Prostitution in Singapore Karayuki-San: (187o-1940)(Warren 1993) concerning or forcedinto prostitution Japanesewomen who were tricked (karayuki-san) in Singaporeand otherpartsof Southeast Asia at the end of the 19thcentury. The piece was performed outdoorsat FortCanningParkin central Singapore, on a long, slopinglawn, with the structure of the old fort as a backserving behind which a drop. Huge video screens framedthe performance space, danceroccasionally in shadow-puppet and on which a video performed style, of a fictionalized interview witha surviving was projected.Ninekarayuki-san teen actorsparticipated, identical movementsequences frequently performing and lines simultaneously or sequentially, in a crossbetweenactingand dance. The piece consisted of fragmented and scenescombined gestures, impressions, in a nonlinear described fashion, subsequently by one of the actors(a student of mineat the NationalUniversity of Singapore) in a "review"as: Characterised non-realistic idiom with by an essentially performance non-linear and temporal structures. The interest was in creating a formal workwitha message, andjuxtaposing formal theatrical elearranging ments, action,gesture, architecture, character, encompassing repetition and text,as well as exploring thefrontier betweendance and theatre. From theprocessof creation to reception, from form to content, theinfluenceof postmodern aesthetics was clearly discernible. (Tang 1998) As one mightguess fromthisdescription, Broken Birdsowed more than a casual debt to Westernexperimental and critical conperformance techniques element cepts.Postmodern borrowing notwithstanding, nearly everytheatrical of Broken Birdswas derivedfromtechniquesthatevolved in the New York theatre scene duringthe I96os and '70s and have since become off-Broadway Westerntheatre. are commonplacein experimental Many of thesetechniques enumerated in Richard Schechner'sarticle"Six Axioms forEnvironmental Theatre" (1968:41-64). The use of the exterior space at Fort Canning Park, forexample,illustrates Schechner's Axiom #3: "The theatrical eventcan take transformed place eitherin a totally space or in 'foundspace.'" The lengthy sectionof Broken Birds different scenesand monologuesenactedsiinvolving multaneously in differentsections of the performance space followed Schechner's dictumin Axiom #4 that"Focus is flexible and variable,"and in factcontainedexamplesboth of what Schechnercalls "multi-focus" and "local focus,"i.e., manyeventshappening at once, and eventstaking place which only some of the audience can hearand see. The heavyvisualemphasis of the

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49 After Appropriation

thananyother areno moreimportant is arelement, piece,in whichactors in Schechner's Axiom#5,"Allproduction ticulated elements speakin their own language"("Whyshouldtheperformer be anymoreimportant than other elements?" asksSchechner). Schechner's of actorproduction concept in whatBonnieMarranca as-visual element wasfurther calledthe developed ofImages" ofthe1970s, in works "Theatre created thediothers) by(among rectors Richard Foreman andRobert andthegroup MabouMines. Wilson, decontextualized without to syncretize them withlocal fashion, attempting theatrical vocabularies which there are in the (of several), precisely Singapore samewayWestern borrow artists elements ofnon-Western andpresent forms themas aesthetic As withseveral decoration. of Ong's other experimental ricaldevices, anddeliberately naivein itsattempt to see whatnewmeanings couldarise from these devices in them an Asian context. Yetstripped byplacing in this cultural andhistorical contexts list ofwhich would (a partial wayoftheir include ofthe1970s, free Vietnam, love,counterculoff-off-Broadway hippies, and '70s minimalist andsculpture), these ture, music, painting, performance no have more to a audience than themovetechniques meaning Singaporean
Birds was simultaneously in itsuse of Western theatpieces,Broken sophisticated DirectorOng borrowed theseand othertechniques and presented themin a

absent itsautochthonous thesrimpi most often serves as a generic meaning, sign ofexoticism to theWesterner, these theatre alsoserved experimental techniques first andforemost as signs to theSingapore in this caseoftrendiness, audience, andintended seriousness. in I am calling what fact, sophistication, Perhaps, trendiness here served someofthesame function for as exoticism Singaporeans doesfor theWesterner, attitudes toward andimages of embodying generalized the"other" anddemonstrating that one is "in theknow."Thisis particularly in Singapore, where as William in hisbook Theatre Peterson important argues andthe Politics in Contemporary Western culofCulture Singapore (forthcoming), ture is simultaneously scorned andheldup as a model ofexcellence tobe emulated.In thistypeofborrowing, whatis important thecreator is (whether Western or non-Western) is notwhatthenovelelement in itsoriginal meant butwhat it nowsays aboutthecreator andtheaudience, andin this context, thefunction oftheimported haschanged. sense, technique Yet in addition to theimportance ofborrowed elements as signs, thephenomenon ofborrowing itself is attheroot ofartistic andgrowth. Artists change areattracted to novelty, andlikemagpies take what looks or they bright flashy or interesting without about theintended As Schechner really caring meaning. haspointed for an artist notto steal, it'shard if out,"On theindividual level, it'suseful for their ofskills or ifit suits. Thatis what artists do. Funrepertory arebricoleurs" Thisis notto deny that encoded in damentally, they (1996:45). suchborrowings areattitudes toward other cultures rederision, (for example, thedesire to position in relation oneself to one'sown culture), sentment, and that canbe setwithin thelarger context ofcultures themselves they redefining to modernism, or as is most often thecasetoday, theglobal influaccording ences ofWestern television andfilm. Butitis perhaps lessthan to enlightening see these in terms ofa discourse about relations borrowings only power among cultures. thecodings and the discourse are theindividual Overshadowing artist's aesthetic in this casethedesire to innovate motivations, with byplaying newtechniques, or byfinding an unfamiliar formal element around which to construct a newobject or performance. In theattempt to incorporate bricolage intothediscourse ofmodernity andinterculturalism, it is important to rememberthat itis as much an artistic as a political artists arenotmorally obstrategy: to present the"other" in a digested andcontextualized andin ligated fashion, fact to do so defeats theaesthetic oftheborrowing. purpose Calling bricolage

mentsof a Javanese dance have to the casualWestern tourist. Andjust as, srinmpi

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Craig Latrell

5. & 6. Teaterjenjang Padang's production of Robohnya SurauKami, Festival InIstiqlaldakarta, mance elements incorporated West Sumatran from randai. (Photo courtesy of Teaterjenjang)
donesia, 1993. The perfor-


of removing the artistic realmaltothe discussion from "pillage"has the effect and imposing a simplistic on a complicated narrative gether process. transfer concerns a production of My second example of intercultural in Bahasa Indonesia by Teater Koma, one of ArthurMiller's The Crucible Jakarta's leading theatrecompanies. This productiontook place at Taman IsmailMarzukiartscenter, in 1992. The Crucible in this (called Tenung Jakarta, is a verygood exampleof garden-variety theatrical realism, production) operand atingaccordingto a linearnarrative, involvingrecognizablecharacters, Realism as a theatrical utilizinga well-knownset of conventions. genrehas existedformanyyearsin Indonesia.After inJakarta's itsintroduction colonial Western-educatedIndonesian playwrights theatres, began by the I95os to write theirown realistic,socially based dramas.The Indonesian National Academy of Theatre, foundedin 1955, began teachingrealisticactingand as Moliere, Gogol, and Chekhov stagingsuch Westernclassic playwrights such as Sartre. the along withmore modernplaywrights Today its successor, Institut KesenianJakarta in 1992 as Fulbright (where I servedon the faculty Senior Lecturer), continues to teachrealistic actingalongsidemoretraditional Indonesian performance styles. Young actors study the principles of a wide variety ofWestern Stanislavskian actingtechniqueand perform playsin while at the same timestudying translation, indigenousIndonesiantheatrical the archipelago. When Indonesianactorsperform a genresfromthroughout work of realism, and indeed,autheybelieve thattheyare actingrealistically, diences seem to accept the actingas "real." Yet to the outsider, theiracting resembles therealistic to whichwe as Westerners are accusbarely actingstyle tomed. Realism in the contextof contemporary Indonesian acting clearly meanssomething different thanit does in a Western context. In Tenung, as well as in manyotherproductions of dramatic I have realism attended in Indonesia,the actingtendedto veer unerringly towardthe melodramatic, by which I mean the depictionof strongemotionssuch as anger, I use the word "depiction" advisedly here,for guilt,and self-recrimination. based on mydirecting workwithIndonesian students, acting theyare generally farmoreinterested in showing thanin actually the called-for emoexperiencing tion in a givenscene. While mostWestern realism-based stress theories acting the utilizationof the actor's personal emotions as a basis for evoking the character's to Indonesian actorsthe production of "real" emotionis emotions,

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Appropriation After 51 forthefireworks, muchlessimportant thanitsportrayal-the actorgoes directly affecting largeemotionsin orderto swaythe audience even ifthe emotionis forthe situation too intense being enacted.Overblownemotionscome out of actorscome to the edge as and frequently nowhereand disappear just abruptly, all attempts behavior at natural of the stageforimportant moments, foregoing to show offtheiremotionalprowessin an almostoperaticway. One sees this all dramatic television but also in virtually notjust onstage, productions. style actorsand acting here.EitherleadingIndonesian There are two possibilities of realism are performing theatrical students badly,or else thewhole apparatus Indoneinto something transformed realistic distinctly actinghas been subtly so radically from whatwe recognizeas realism sian. In fact, thisactingdeparts thateach society the possibility an entirely new genre,raising as to constitute as socion such things what can pass as "realistic," deemsforitself depending Given that towardemotionand pre-existing etal attitudes styles. performance of emotionis frowned the open expression upon in manypartsof Indonesia in have one expectedthataudiencesand actorsalike might (particularly Java), would avoid emotionally lendingactingthe same hyperbolic acting,thereby seen at otherformalsocial occasions and emotionalrefinement (halus-ness) of this avoidance of the showing of ceremonies. Yet perhaps it is because and even such emotionsare permissible in that emotion life strong everyday of in the otherness the a setting gives the setting: sought-after performance inare of the utmost to emote,and such expressions participants "permission" to audiencemembers. terest This actingstylemay well be the productof a blendingof Westernand Indonesianperformance more traditional styles, lyingsquarelybetween the would accountfor characteristics of both. Such syncretism two and exhibiting Indonesian theimpression thatWesterners acting, might gleanwhilewatching familiar and yet odd about the style.Actingin much thatthereis something is simplynot intendedto Indonesiantheatre-dance (but not all) traditional made flesh, but inis seeinga character foster the illusionthatthe spectator Guide the character, steadto represent showing-as the editorof The Cambridge than a realessence rather out-its toAsian Theatre (Brandon1993:II18)points in traditional In lightof the factthatmanyof the characters isticportrayal. or gods, it is difficult to imagineanare eithermythical figures performance that othersortof actingstyletakingroot in Indonesia.This is not to suggest do not emotions in forms of dance-drama traditional experience performers of emotioncountsforless thanits (theydo), but thatthe directexperiencing

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Craig Latrell

Thus thesetraditional, portrayal. representational performance styles comprise a vocabularywithinwhich the tenetsof realismhave been reinterpreted by Indonesian actors and audiences. In termsof Carlson's scheme of interIndonesianrealistic culturalism, acting could be describedas a formwhere "The foreign and the familiar createa new blend, which is then assimilated intothetradition, (1996:83). becomingfamiliar" In thiscase, the elements of Westernactingstyles have been studied, borand combinedwithpre-existing local styles rowed, reworked, reinterpreted, to produce somethingwhich is novel yet recognizableto local audiences. What may have originally debegun withthe kind of contextless borrowing in thefirst scribed and undergone a sea changeinto examplehas herepersisted in fact, thatcan be used to express local realities. something Perhaps, superficial borrowing of the first kindmustprecedeany sortof deeperreworking of a borrowedform:perhapsthe borrowedformmustbegin to lose some of its and semiotic before it can be adaptedor combinedwithlocal novelty potency forms on a more profound level. Both kindsof borrowing--contextless and to the way art develops and changes,and syncretic-are equally important both are examplesof how artists withnew waysof expressing reexperiment alitiesthrough of unfamiliar theintroduction formal elements. If thefirst of formal or stylistic two examples have to do withtheborrowing and how theymaymove from to syncretism, the lastextechniques, bricolage of technology and staging, ample has to do withthe incorporation specifically sound equipmentand the shape of the performance space. Althoughtechnoare not necessarily logical elements alwaysWesternin origin,theyfrequently 7. Randaiperformance, serveas emblems of modernism, and in thisrespect to servea function similar Palito lingkaran, showing the more purelyformal elementsdescribedabove. For example,those who In- have attended Sumatra, Nyalo,West in Southeast of indigenous theatre Asia have likely performances donesia, 1997. (Photo by noticeda propensity fortheuse of soundamplification This is parequipment. CraigLatrell)

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53 After Appropriation in tourist true butevenin village venues, ticularly performances amplification is common. This is nowhere moreapparent thanin performances ofWest Sumatran randai ofdialogue, andmartial artsmusic, (a fusion religious poetry, derived where theuse ofmicrophones hasinevitably led to alterations dance), in staging. In randai thedialogue scenes-which contained a good formerly dealoffootwork, andfrequent ofposition around the bodily swaying, changes in a moreor lessstationary space-now tendto be performed performance fashion in order to accommodate theactors' useofmicrophones.2 Even withthesmall of movement amount that in these remains scenes, in many there comes a time where theactors must performances stopanddiscordsor tendto faulty Thisofcoursehas entangle microphone equipment. hadtheeffect ofchanging boththenature ofthese scenes andtheaudiencewiththescenesbecoming muchlessstylized and performance relationship, dance-like. the inconveniences the and that the miinvolved, Despite changes it has now becomeunthinkable to perform without necessitate, crophones sheer volumeand thesemiotic outamplification, appealof theequipment artistic considerations. Soundequipment, which is usually notat all weighing from theaudibility comeswitha certain cachetand necessary standpoint, to the audience that the is and randai group up-to-date fully equipped, "says" andso ithasevolved intoa necessity. In this theartistic borwayitresembles ofthefirst, contextless in that itsimportance liesin what is signirowing type to makeup forthe relative of fiedto the audience.Perhaps immobility scenes which are set scenes, randai's dialogue (in fight aside) microphones havebecome with one critic the action-oriented, increasingly noting seriously influence ofSylvester on thelength Stallone andflashiness ofthefights. In this ofsoundequipment hascoincidentally way,theintroduction yetprofoundly the which in turn has to accommodate the form, reshaped adapteditself equipment. Similar occurwhenthevenues in which is traditionally randai adaptations One ofrandai's most is thecircular performed change. uniquecharacteristics described within whichthedrashape(calledthelingkaran) by thedancers, maticportions of theperformance takeplace,withtheaudiencegathered around itsperimeter. As I havepointed outelsewhere (seeLatrell 1999),this circular hasnumerous functions andmeanings in randai, as wellas servshape and it bindsrandaiin innumerable ing as a potent symbol, waysto West Sumatran culture. is an expression oftheMinangkabau senRandai's lingkaran in which andreturn essential and this cohesion, sibility, unity, play parts, shape and theaudience-performance it dictates bothexpress andreinrelationship force thesevalues.Randaihastraditionally been performed in thiscircular on thevillage andeventoday festivals randai configuration square, go to great a circular area. Yet aside from or festival painsto create performance village is increasingly on theproscenium-style randai performances, being performed in civiccultural centers of whichtakeas their model stagefavored (many Western theatre or temporarily erected for occasions structures) special (restauhasserious forthemeaning oftheform anditsplacein society. implications Once theform's randai's essential is performance spaceis altered, circularity also disrupted, as spectators can no longer form a circlearound theperforand thedancers themselves find it difficult to perform mance, in a circle. In thecaseof adaptations theatre basedon therandai by contemporary groups form former Teater thecircular (suchas Padang's Jenjang), shapeis actually in favor discarded ofa single or doublelineof dancers, the radically altering traditional between viewer andperformance as wellas itssymbolic relationship connections to thesociety. Yet audiences at these reconfigured performances to thelossofthelingkaran-instead ofsitting or standing frequently respond
rantopeningsor weddings,forexample). This changein performance venue

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Latrell 54 Craig in rowsdirectly in front oftheperformance, likea Western audiaudience, ence members to reconstruct the circular themshape by arranging attempt selves in a semicircle around theperformance. In this reestablish at waythey former leastsomeof randai's relations to society and the circle's symbolic Once again, therelation between theintroduced element andthe meanings. theatrical form is complex andreciprocal, rather than Local simply one-way. attitudes andcustoms take overglobal As cultural historian precedence politics. Clifford "Distinct to merge into'the James says, waysof lifeonce destined modern world' reasserted their in novel difference, [have] (1988:6). ways" intercultural transfer as appropriation, or plunder, or Describing pillage, it as in an exercise the has effect of all neocolonialism, seeing only making suchinteractions seemthesame, what we already think we know confirming abouttherelative andnon-Western societies. Yet as FoupowerofWestern reminds cault is more andprovisional than a us,power localized, complicated, victim-victimizer narrative would and to this narrative to allow, simple apply intercultural transfer thereciprocal essence of (as is frequently done)is to miss these Performance basedon interactions between is cercultures relationships. tainto proliferate in theforeseeable future. It is bothmoreinteresting and morerespectful to try andperceive thecomplex in which non-Western ways forms reinvent themselves in thefaceofglobalculture thanto try to make these reinventions conform to a simplistic andpossibly outdated narrative. Notes
borrowing, I mean of course including in a work of art forms,techniques, or I. By artistic technical elements thatoriginated outside one's culture. 2. This has also been noted by KirstenPauka in Theater & MartialArtsin Sumatra(1998).

B. Balme,Christopher theStage:Theatrical and Post-Colonial Drama.Oxford: 1999 Decolonizing Syncretism Clarendon New York:Oxford Press. Press; University ed. Brandon, James, TheCambridge Guide toAsianTheatre. Press. 1993 Cambridge: Cambridge University Brown, JohnRussell "Theatrical the Intercultural Traffic." 1998 New ThePillagein Asia: Redirecting
atreQuarterly 14, I (NTQ53):9-19. Carlson, Marvin "Brook and Mnouchkine: Passages to India?" In The Intercultural 1996 Performance Reader,edited by Patrice Pavis, 79-92. London: Routledge. Clifford, James


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in Travelers andTourists andConverging Interests: Theatre Traders, Journal

at Hamilton He has Associate ofTheatre College. Craig Latrellis currently Professor and Corat theNationalUniversity also taught ofSingapore, University ofDenver, in Indonesia, Latrell holds A former Senior Lecturer nishCollege Arts. Fulbright ofthe haveappeared in Asian a DFA from theYale School publications ofDrama. Recent AsianStudies Center Southeast Asia, edited (University forSoutheast by . Forshee, 1999). Berkeley, ofCalifornia, 8. BrokenBirdswasperon a long, sloping formed lawnat FortCanning the structure Park,with of the old as a serving fort (Photo byLilen backdrop. of Uy; courtesy TheatreWorks Ltd.)

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