Asian performance has been a feature of Royal Holloway ever since the Department opened in 1979. Since then its reputation as an internationally-significant site for the study of Asian performing arts has grown.
In 1991, 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, Theatre and Dance’s three main spaces for performance. It is the best example of a noh stage outside of Japan, and is 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; 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.