Excavations, Interrogations, Krishen Jit & Contemporary Malaysian Theatre
Edited by Charlene Rajendran, Ken Takiguchi and Carmen Nge
Excavations, Interrogations, Krishen Jit & Contemporary Malaysian Theatre recounts the interventions and interactions of Malaysian theatre doyen and arts leader Krishen Jit (1939–2005). Best known for his cross-disciplinary takes on the avant garde and unflinching engagement with the differences and ruptures of multicultural identity, Krishen saw theatre’s critical function as inseparable from daily life. Krishen's keen collaborations across a range of arts institutions, organizations, and practitioners made him a key figure in Southeast Asian arts conversations, inspiring performers, academics, and audiences alike with his spontaneity, warmth, and desire to understand the people he worked with. A stanch supporter of deeply local yet internationally engaged art, Krishen wrote the longest-running theatre criticism column in Malaysia’s main newspaper, co-founded the theatre company Five Arts Center, and chaired the theatre department at Akademi Seni Kebangsaan.
A touching and insightful dedication from fourteen arts professionals, Excavations combines personal narratives and critical analyses to shed light on Krishen’s process, character, and lasting impact in contemporary theatre practice. This richly illustrated collection traverses writings and conversations, and even serves up some homemade caramelised carrots, in its exploration of Krishen’s professional and personal legacy.
“As I have never met Krishen, I keep looking for his legacy in the writings he left behind and the discussions about him. These not only provide knowledge of who he was, but also a better understanding of the past, present and future of Malaysian theatre and performance. This book offers valuable discussions on Krishen’s contribution to theatre and raises critical questions for Malaysian art.”
— Fasyali Fadzly Playwright, Theatre Director, Writer, Educator, ASWARA – Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage), Malaysia.
“Krishen Jit continually challenged himself, trying new approaches to feed his inquiry of theatre. In Skin Trilogy (1995), he gave himself the greatest challenge when he decentralised the director’s role and interrogated relationships between artists in performance, thereby generating space for critical encounters between culture, art and the self. This publication revitalises that sensibility and provokes the reader to experiment and excavate.”
— Soon Choon Mee, Theatre Director, Researcher, Lecturer
“Krishen Jit sparked my imagination as a young artist, with his stories of Penang, Indonesia, Philippines and New York. He inspired a whole generation of Singaporean younger artists to imagine beyond our paltry realities, and see the human being as a large ocean of possibilities. This edited volume is a potent reconnection with Krishen and a timely journey through some of his ideas for today.”
— Ong Keng Sen, Artistic Director of TheatreWorks, Singapore Founding Festival Director of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (2014-2017)
About the Authors
Charlene Rajendran is a theatre educator, researcher and practitioner who is currently Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education - Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. As performer, writer and director, she has collaborated with a range of practitioners in devising and facilitating dialogical theatre processes. More recently she has been dramaturg for interdisciplinary and intercultural arts projects that engage with issues of culture, subjectivity and agency. She is also engaged in researching pedagogies of play in arts education. Her doctoral dissertation examined the work of Krishen Jit and his stagings of difference in modern, multicultural Malaysia, and she has published a range of articles in this area.
Ken Takiguchi is a dramaturg and translator. With a PhD from the National University of Singapore (NUS), he currently teaches intercultural theatre in Asia at the Tokyo University of the Arts. His areas of interest are theatre translation, intercultural theatre and cultural policy in East and Southeast Asia. Ken lived in Malaysia and Singapore from 1999 to 2016 and has participated in numerous intercultural productions. He is a founding member of Asian Dramaturgs’ Network and co-director of Theatre Makers Asia, an online archive project developed by NUS. He was named Cross-Cultural Champion of the Arts at the 2002 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
Carmen Nge is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Creative Industries, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). She has been writing about Malaysian culture and specifically the visual arts, for the past ten years. She has written numerous art essays for books, journals and art exhibition catalogue texts; she also co-edited a book, Ismail Hashim: Essays, Interviews and Archives (2015) with artist Wong Hoy Cheong, and was a regular contributor to Off The Edge magazine from 2004–2010. She teaches broadly in the subject fields of Malaysian media and culture, critical thinking, science fiction, and games design at UTAR.
Size: 260mm x 210mm
Published: April 2018
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