This anthology presents three new translations representing an aspect of modern Asian drama as yet unavailable to readers in English: the community-based theaters of Taiwan, working in Chinese languages beyond Mandarin. Community theater (shequ juchang) contrasts with the more mainstream theater that has emerged in Taiwan from the 1980s onward—a theater dominated by male playwrights, centered in the capital city of Taipei, and, despite its roots as an experimental “Little Theater Movement,” increasingly commercial and professionalized. Community theater, conversely, maintains the more fluid line between professional and amateur that initially characterized contemporary Taiwan theater; it exists primarily outside of the capital, in regional cities like Tainan; and the driving forces, artistically and administratively, are women. The content of the plays in this anthology reflects that particular gendering of the community theater. Stories of women dominate in Wang Chi-Mei’s One Year, Three Seasons and Peng Ya-Ling’s We Are Here. Hsu Rey-Fang’s The Phoenix Trees are in Blossom also has significant female roles, both fictional and historical.
To connect with the local communities, these playwrights seek stories from within those communities, and then contextualize those stories within the larger historical narratives of Taiwan, itself already a “local” element within the broader Chinese culture. Through these dual foci of gender and locality, stories of the women of Taiwan emerge as meaningful elements of Taiwan’s modern history. These plays go beyond the walls of the theater spaces, to educate the local, national, and—through translation—international communities about those significant, but often hidden, stories. Well-researched by the playwrights through texts and interviews, these plays can serve as primary documents for courses in Taiwan history and culture, and comparative women’s and gender studies, in addition to literature and drama courses.
Distributed for Cornell University East Asia Program
Editor: Weinstein, John B.;