Scholars and educators interpret and introduce the world of Asian Shakespeare.

Shakespeare, Asian Actors and Intercultural Spectatorship

This essay by Li Lan Yong (National University of Singapore) reflects upon the interculturality of spectatorship.

         How do we relate to what we watch, when a performance foregrounds and implicates the particular cultural position from which we are watching, with its values, habits, and limitations, all of which define what we are able to see?

What part does the spectator play in the staging of an encounter between Shakespeare and Asian forms and worldviews?  view essay »


Shakespeare, Performance, and Autobiographical Interventions

Originally published in the Shakespeare Bulletin: A Journal of Performance Criticism and Scholarship 24. 2 (Summer 2006): 31-47.

An essay by Alexa Alice Joubin (Pennsylvania State University) about Lear Is Here, Wu Hsing-kuo's solo adaptation of King Lear.

         The idea that Shakespeare belongs to the world has become a cliché. When examining the global and “worldly” Shakespeare, instead of focusing on cultural and national appropriations, we must now ask: does Shakespeare also belong to the individual readers, actors, directors, re-writers? Can Shakespeare be linked to the personal, the autobiographical mode of interpretation, and the local modes of reading? How might an actor’s performative, autobiographical readings contribute to the epistemological formations of “Shakespeare” and adjust the storied biographies of the actor and Shakespeare’s characters on- and offstage? How does the medium contribute to and limit autobiographical performances of Shakespeare?  view essay »


Hamlet in China: Translation, Interpretation and Performance

This essay by Ruru Li (University of Leeds) focuses on the adaptation of Hamlet and its relationship to the history of China.

         Of all Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet has attracted the most Chinese translators, with no fewer than twelve different translations into Mandarin having been published since 1922. The earliest of these marked the first time a complete Shakespeare play had ever appeared in Chinese. Before then, the only version of Shakespeare available to Chinese-speakers had been in the form of loose translations––and subsequent stage adaptations––based on Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare.

In Shashibiya: Staging Shakespeare in China, I offer readers a diagram (Li Ruru, 2003, 116) illustrating that when foreign plays are introduced to China the translators, adapters, scholars and theater practitioners all bring their own personal and societal history as well as a shared cultural legacy into the composition of the works that are performed on stage. I contend that Shakespeare in China is as much a story about China as about Shakespeare. This experience is evident in the translation, interpretation and performance of Hamlet, the history of which not only highlights the influence of the politically sanctioned literary theory on the Chinese understanding of this great tragedy, but also reflects the complex responses of Chinese people towards a century of radical changes in their society and culture.   view essay »