The beginning of spoken theatre in Asia: Colonialism and colonial modernity

Maki Isaka, Anita Singh, Matthew Isaac Cohen, Siyuan Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on the beginning of modern theatre in Asia by comparing two paths that led to theatrical modernity: (1) India and Indonesia as examples of nations under western colonization and (2) Japan and China, which modernized under the threat of global colonialism, a situation known as colonial modernity. Within the latter pair, China also differed from Japan in the sense that while it was never colonized, it was forced to open concessions in port cities with large western settlements. A comparison of the two models yields drastic differences, as spoken theatre in colonies started with settler theatres, colonial education and local commercial ventures, whereas the colonial modernity model witnessed local elites seizing on western-style spoken drama as a tool of enlightenment for the mostly illiterate populace. Within this group, Japan's new theatre received full blessing from the ruling class to stage the rising empire, while China's port cities such as Shanghai also witnessed limited theatrical productions by western settlers and in church schools. China also learnt western theatre through Japan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Asian Theatre
Pages402-406, 410-412
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781317278856
ISBN (Print)9780415821551
StatePublished - Feb 4 2016


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