The first ever collection of Southeast Asian Plays will have its launch at the National Gallery of Singapore on 29 September, 7.30pm. Some of the playwrights will be at the event and there will beÂ staged readings from students at LASALLE College of the Arts in association with the Select Centre.
Southeast Asian Plays is edited by Aubrey Mellor and Cheryl Robson, andÂ is a unique collection of plays by eight playwrights, both new and established, from countries in Southeast Asia including Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia. Covering topics as diverse as the global financial crisis, religious faith, the sex trade, corruption and exploitation, these plays provide insight into the differing concerns of those living in a part of the world which is experiencing profound change.
The is a FREE event DO BOOK.
In his introduction Aubrey Mellor writes:
This volume is a snapshot of the rich variety of performance work that in many cases is only beginning to be written down. Though now in English, there is little in common in these eight plays from seven very different nations in a region connected mainly by geography. Until the founding of ASEAN, in 1967, Southeast Asia (SEA) was known to the world as the East Indies. Covering 11 nations and 626 million inhabitants, over more than 4.4 million square kilometres, the southeast of the continent plunges into the sea, diversifying into many thousands of islands and languages as it reaches into the Pacific. One of the largest and fastest-growing economies of the world, with a combined annual turnover of 2.8 trillion US dollars, it contains arguably the richest variety of arts, customs, cuisines and landscapes â€“ and distinctively defined peoples. However, this part of the world is under-represented, especially in theatre and dramatic writing, and its vivid diversity deserves to be known beyond its splendid beaches and tourist spots. In collecting a first volume of Southeast Asian playscripts we prioritised material that other countries (including SEA) might be interested in performing, with an aim to introduce not only the writers but also the cultures that produced them.
Publication is not a necessary goal in the performing arts, and theatre scripts are merely blueprints for productions, especially in this region. As elsewhere, second productions and revivals are rare, so publication becomes important to preserving some of this ephemeral art form and to allowing play texts to find a wider international readership. Though some of these works were written and performed in English, a playâ€™s origins are of course defined by language, e.g. a Vietnamese play is written in Vietnamese etc. Consequently the huge majority of new dramatic literature in this flourishing region remains unknown outside of language borders; even within countries plays are not readily circulated, as they are not commonly published in their original (often local) language, and are further neglected in translation. The development of skilled literary translators in the region is happening slowly, but the focus is primarily on poetry and fiction.
It is exciting to discover the other forms of play-making that exist in this region… it is no accident that this collection includes many plays by women, and this is a sign of the equity that has emerged as a feature of these ancient- yet-young nations. Nations that are growing in pride, in industry, investment and in tourism, in innovation and in cultural originality.