Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance
A wayang kulit performance by Ki Enthus Sumono, 5 September 2015
The Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway, University of London provides a supportive framework for research, teaching, mentoring, external consultation, performance activity, public engagement, networking and dissemination of research in this vibrant field. With a nucleus of the Handa Noh Theatre, the Centre offers numerous opportunities for dialogue among Royal Holloway academic staff and postgraduate students with visiting practitioners and academics.
The Centre does not limit its definition of Asian theatre and dance to ancient art forms such as noh or wayang kulit, but addresses the contemporary arts in Asia and in Asian diasporas (including theatre, dance, live art and performance art); intercultural arts; performances derived from or inspired by Asia; intermedial arts; media representations of Asian performance; Asian performance artefacts such as masks, puppets and costumes; European arts as practiced in Asia; and Asian arts in global contexts, among other areas.
Building upon interdisciplinary networks established by the Asian Performing Arts Forum, the Centre runs externally-advertised seminar series and sponsors and co-sponsors lectures and workshops. It also hosts performances, oversee the Noh Training Project UK, works with parties wishing to make use of the Handa Noh Theatre, supports and advises student activities and clubs and has relations with other international centres for Asian theatre and dance. Oversight from the Centre enables a coordinated approach to research, teaching, performance and other activities in Asian performing arts at Royal Holloway.
Royal Holloway’s reputation as a nationally-significant site for the study of Asian performing arts has been recognised since at least 1991, when the College received the gift of a stage for the performance of noh theatre from the Japan Festival Committee and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. This stage is housed in the Handa Noh Theatre, one of the Department of Drama and Theatre’s three main spaces for performance. It is the only permanently-standing noh stage in Europe, and a unique cultural asset of the College.
Since the 1990s, Royal Holloway’s strengths in the field of Asian performing arts have grown with:
- the appointment of academic researcher-practitioners (Matthew Cohen, Ashley Thorpe and Prarthana Purkayastha in Drama and Dance; Anna Morcom, Shzr Ee Tan and Tina Ramnarine in Music);
- a British Academy postdoctoral scholar in Geography (Amanda Rogers, now Senior Lecturer at Swansea University);
- visiting professors (Naohiko Umewaka, Jatinder Verma);
- honorary doctorate awardees (Akira Matsui, Akram Khan);
- the acquisition of a gamelan orchestra by the Department of Music in 2004 (taught by visiting lecturer Simon Cook and offered as both a curricular and extra-curricular activity);
- co-founding of the Asian Performing Arts Forum, established in 2010 as a strategic partnership with Roehampton University and the University of Reading;
- the hosting of an international conference on Asian Performing Arts with CHIME (European Foundation for Chinese Music research) in 2011;
- the hosting of the Noh Training Project UK since 2014; various student clubs and activities such as Royal Holloway Bhangra;
- and numerous PhD students conducting research in such diverse areas as Thai classical dance, Indonesian contemporary theatre, Chinese opera, applied theatre in Singapore, Korean musical theatre, Indian folk performance, Japanese puppetry, South Asian diasporic dance, Thai Buddhist drama and Shakespeare in Japan.
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