Kyogen : An awesome tradition seeking a future

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We need to remind ourselves about what we lose when we live our lives at the speed we do. Traditional art forms – like kyogen – certainly should have that effect on us today.

At a time when traditional performances – be they wayang kulit, Hokkien puppet theatre or bharatanatyam – cling to the fringes of our society as TVs and smart phones clamour successfully for our attention, we must seriously enquire how these traditions can be saved.

Religious and festive performances are easier in this sense. The racy getai shows that mushroom during the lunar seventh month come to mind, but for performances that require decades of training and discipline, it’s a bit of a pickle contending with easy, modern entertainment.

And when you’re talking about a traditional performance theatre that can trace its roots back to the 14th century, perhaps there’s more at stake.


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