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Tradition and Modernity

Words / Huang SuhuaiTranslate / Wang Liansheng

The Practice Journal is in its third instalment now. Regardless of its viewership, trying our best to ensure the quality of the Journal would always make us find much meaning behind it. Till now, every issue has had a theme. And similarly for this issue, we are looking at the theme of “Tradition and Modernity”.

A while back, I saw that Xiaoyi had mentioned previously, “Don’t stop questioning yourself why you want to do (theatre), and don’t stop answering that question, even if you already have an answer for yourself.” Indeed, we often know how to question others, and forget to question ourselves. We often assume that once we stick to our original intentions, we would be able to sustain forever. Actually, there are many problems which are waiting for us to have a revisit. For example, the asking of oneself, “Who am I?” there may be a direct and simple answer, but there is also a possibility that one may never find an answer for it. In September this year, The Theatre Practice presented the Chinese Theatre Festival, and in its line-up, we explored how the society has enchained the female with our revisit of the legend of Mulan, and we also explored the meaning of freedom through a play inspired by the teachings of Zhuang Zi. The 1 Table 2 Chair experimental series and La Naissance, a puppetry performance from our Taiwan counterparts, also explored the concept of life through engaging tradition. From those before us, we have acquired their intelligence and strength. At the same time, they also fuel us in our creative pursuits. In our journey, we constantly question our identity. The influences that tradition and modernity have on us are subliminal. It seems that we are able to find the rationale behind our current mindsets and intellectual framework when we revisit our roots. And the experiments we have while creating modern theatre also then challenge us to see if we can break free from these pre-existing mindsets and frameworks, and or to reinvent those answers we think we already have.

The Practice Journal also aspires to provide one an avenue beyond the confines of a theatre for one to learn more about the journeys of theatre practitioners. I interviewed the three directors (Kuo Jian Hong, Liu Xiaoyi and Lim Chin Huat) of Threshold(1 Table 2 Chairs Experimental Series) and had a conversation with them about the meaning of tradition. I learnt a lot from this conversation, and realised once again that the process of debating and reflecting on issues is far more important than merely articulating your own perspective. I also interviewed Philippe Gaulier, who just conducted a class here recently, and consulted him on the philosophy behind the performing traditions of Western theatre.

As for external entries, we have theatre director, Li Xie, sharing with us her creation process behind the Newspaper Theatre community production, “News Busters!”. There is also Wang Liansheng’s reflections which he wrote after watching a recent staging of the masterpiece, Shun Kin. At the cultural exchange front, this issue also features an article by Mia Chee, where she shares her thoughts and experiences after having attended a SCOT training program in Japan this year.

It is yet another sumptuous feast this time round, and I invite you to slowly savour it. I certainly hope this issue will be a great read and provide much food for thought.

arrow  Continue reading on Issue 3 / July 2013:Tradition and Modernity