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20240429|Critical Curatorial Practices in the 21st Century: Public Space, New Media and Geopolitics


Where are the people? People’s theater in Inter-Asian Societies

Publication Date|2022-11-01

Press|National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University Press



Where Are the People?

How Could the People’s Bodies Voice Themselves in the Form of

Theatrical Aesthetics?

At That Time, the Audience Really Stood Up.

In this evening, theater practitioners initiated the conversation with physical action. They engage with contemporary issues through their unique performance styles. From a discursive context, they enter the scene of resistance and undertake the labor of performance. Their performance is not just the preface to a series of dialogues, but also a witness to thirty years of People’s Theater.

“People’s theater” belongs to the people.

It is the theater created by the people and speaks for the people as it has appeared in history in diverse forms.

People theater in Inter-Asian Societies began to grow in a cross-region, which included Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Busan, Maputo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hualien, Taichung, and Taipei. Through the writings and images written down by theatrical artists from these spaces, we can figure out the body aesthetics that carry historical conflicts and the experience to find the form and channel of expression, and continue for work of thinking and creation.

“People Theater” is nothing but a rehearsal for a revolution.

This book has reviewed and reflected on the half-century development of people’s theater in inter-Asian societies, demonstrates how the theatrical practitioners and artists in different communities strived to open various spaces, dealt with the censorship from the authoritarian regime to the neoliberal societies, and experimented with diverse aesthetics and local objects to address political issues.


“It is a collection with the premise that can motivate our critical thinking with bodily energy. It reflects how we realize the statement—‘Viewing as participating; audience as actors.’It is also a book where some keywords constantly appear, like resistance, politics, the oppressed, and conversation. With its humming buzz and murmur against the present situation, it is a collection of words refusing to remain silent.”— Lin Hsin IAssociate Professor at the Institute of Applied Art, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University

People’s Theater Practitioners

Asian People’s Theatre Festival Society (Hong Kong)/Assignment Theatre (Taiwan)/Centre for Applied Theatre, Taiwan (Taipei)/Grass Stage (Shanghai)/Langasan Theatre (Hualien)/Makhampom Theatre Group (Ching Dao/Bangkok)/Oz Theatre Company (Taipei)/Philippine Educational Theater Association, PETA (Manila)/Shigang Mama Theater (Taichung Shigang)/Teater Kubur (Jakarta)/Teatro em Casa (Mozambique)/Theater Playground SHIIM (Busan)/Trans-Asia Sisters Theater (Taiwan)/WANG Mo-lin (Taiwan)/Wiji Thukul (Solo)/Yasen no Tsuki (Tokyo)


Lai Shu-Ya /Director, Centre for Applied Theatre, Taiwan

Chen Chieh-Jen/Artist

Chen Hsin-Hsing /Professor, Graduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies, SHU

Chou Hui-Ling/Professor, Department of English, NCU

Hsu Jen-hao/Associate Professor, Department of Theater Arts, NSYSU

Kuo Li-Hsin/Professor, Department of Radio & Television, NCCU

Shih Wan-Shun/Associate Professor, Department of Taiwan Literature, NTHU

Yao Lee-Chun/A Director of Body Phase Studio–Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre (GLT)

Characteristics of this book

1.Beyond the geographical limitations of Taiwan and East Asia, combined the context of Inter-Asian societies and Third-World society, appreciate the theater work methods that are intertwined with folk culture and community traditions, and promote the practice of public theater.

2. This book focuses on depicting network relationships in specific historical periods, and explores how the cooperation and interaction of troupes in these heterogeneous regions occurred. And how do these interactions affect the characteristics and forms of popular theater organizations in the transition of different policies?

3. What this book looks back on is not only the continuation and development of troupes but also the sudden change or gap between new people theaters and old people theaters.



5 Opening Night

10 Mapping People’s Theater

13 PREFACE Make Inquiries among the People: A Kind of On-site Performative Archive

LIN Hsin-I

19 PREFACE Where Are the People? How Could the People’s Bodies Voice Themselves in the Form of Theatrical Aesthetics?

Joyce C.H. LIU

27 EDITORIAL NOTES Flowing Histories of People’s Theater in the Inter-Asian Context

Qi LI and Zikri RAHMAN

Part I

Heralds of Resistance: Inter-Asian People’s Theater In the Early Days

35 PETA’s GOLD: Gaming the Nation, Changing Asia


55 Transnational Networks, People’s Theater and Radical Opposition in the New Order Indonesia


71 Moving History: Representation of Teater Kubur Performances from the New Order Regime to Post-Reformation in Indonesia

Ratu Selvi Agnesia and Dindon W.S.

85 Sejarah Yang Bergerak: Representasi Pertunjukan Teater Kubur Dari Orde Baru hingga Pasca Reformasi di Indonesia (Indonesian)

Ratu Selvi Agnesia and Dindon W.S.

97 A Transformative Theater of Dialogue: The Makhampom Theatre Group’s Negotiation of Thailand’s State of Repression

Richard BARBER

115 Angura Afterlives: On Sakurai Daizō’s Theory of “Tent Theater”


141 Review: Beyond These Words

AU Sow Yee

Part II

Emancipation of Body: The Origin and Transformation of

People’s Theater In Taiwan

147 People’s Theater in Taiwan: A Flooded History

HAN Jia-ling

177 The Presence of the Oppressed

WANG Mo-lin

185 Can Theater Transform the World? Reflections on the People’s Theater in Asia


197 Theater and the Worship Ground: Langasan Theatre


207 Return to the Theater of the Oppressed: Trans-Asia Sisters Theater’s Empowerment, Organizing and Mobilization

Hsiao-Chuan HSIA

213 Between Acting and Realities: Towards a Self-reflexive Practice of Shigang Mama Theater

LEE Show Shin

221 Review: Little Theater and the People

WU Sih-Fong

Part III

Outspreads: Practices of Peoples Theater In Our Time

231 The Background and Activities of Theater Playground SHIIM

BAEK Dae-hyun and HONG Seung-yi

241 연극놀이터 , 쉼의 설립 배경과 활동 (Korean)

BAEK Dae-hyun and HONG Seung-yi

249 Grass Stage at the North Gate of Foxconn: from World Factory to the Five-year

Theatrical Practice of Workers’ Theater

ZHAO Chuan

261 At the Boundaries of Body, Society, and Theater

WANG Chu-yu

273 Yuquan Training: A Perspective in the Practice of Oz Theatre Company

LIU Hsin-hung

279 A Self-interview: Of Teatro em Casa and Glimpses of Mozambique’s Theater


287 Review: People’s Theater, A Total War Towards the Theater Institutions

KUO Liang-ting


295 Biographies of Editors, Authors and Translators

305 Introduction to People’s Theater Practitioners

313 Glossary of English-Chinese/Original Terms


Qi Li

Qi Li is a Ph.D. student in Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies in National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University. She came to Taiwan out of curiosity, then got a journey full of adventures. Her ongoing projects focus on life stories of the small theater practitioners, the technologies of mobility and governance in contemporary conditions, and the political-economic transitions on both sides of the Taiwan Strait over the last half-century. She writes articles and reviews for independent media and research institutions based in different countries. She was the coordinator of “Where the People Are…Workshop on People’s Theater in Inter-Asian Societies” in December 2018.

Zikri Rahman

Zikri Rahman has consistently embarked on collaborations with educational and cultural activist groups in various socio-political projects through Buku Jalanan, a rhizomatic network of street library movement he co-founded in the year 2011. Operating as a loose cultural and knowledge workers movements, it focuses on decentralizing the modes of knowledge production. Other than that, he is also affiliated with Pusat Sejarah Rakyat, independent archival research and documentation focusing on Malaysia and Singapore’s people’s history. With LiteraCity, he initiated a literary and cultural mapping project in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Currently pursuing his postgraduate studies in Social Research and Cultural Studies in Taiwan, Zikri is also a writer, independent researcher, translator, and podcaster for various ephemeral platforms.

Joyce C.H. Liu

Joyce C.H. Liu received her Ph.D. degree in Comparative Literature in 1984 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Currently, Dr. Liu is the Director of the International Center for Cultural Studies, and a full-time professor at the International Program in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and the Director at the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University. Her research focuses on geopolitics, biopolitics, border politics, internal coloniality, unequal citizens, epistemic decolonization, and artistic interventions. She has published six books, 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, and chapters and coedited nine books. She is leading two ongoing joint research projects: “Conflict, Justice, Decolonization: Critical Inter-Asia Cultural Studies,” awarded by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan (2018-2022), and “Migration, Logistics, and Unequal Citizens in the Global Context” (2019-2022), awarded by CHCI-Mellon Foundation.


YAO Lee Chun

Theater director, producer and festival director, film researcher and curator.The director of Body Phase Studio since 2007 and has been as Director of Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre (GLT) since 2008.


HSU Ping

A documentary photographer. Over the past three decades, he has consistently documented the diverse phenomena of the post-Martial Law Taiwan and on/off the stage of modern theaters.


Ratu Selvi Agnesia/A young female theater researcher active in Jakarta.

Glecy Cruz ATIENZA/A Professor at the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

AU Sow Yee/A guest writer for the online magazine No Man’s Land; Co-founder of Kuala Lumpur’s Rumah Attap Library and Collective.

BAEK Dae-hyun/A producer and an actor for the works of SHIIM.

Richard BARBER/A theater worker and independent scholar working as the co-director of Free Theatre in Melbourne, Australia and advisor to the Makhampom Theatre Group in Thailand.

Assane Alberto CASSIMO/A coordinator and founding member of Associação Teatro em Casa.

CHUNG Chiao/A playwright, theater director, poet, and the artistic director of Assignment Theatre.

Dindon W.S./The Director of Teater Kubur.

Muhammad FEBRIANSYAH/A lecturer at School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.

HAN Jia-ling/A history and rural education scholar and activist.

HONG Seung-yi/Currently working at Theater BAKK.

Hsiao-Chuan HSIA/A Professor at the Graduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies, Shih Hsin University.

KUO Liang-ting/An adjunct lecturer at the Chinese Department of National Chung Cheng University.

LEE Show Shin/An artist from community people’s theater and a family care worker.

LIU Hsin-hung/The main participant of Yuquan Training since 2015.

Adaw Palaf LANGASAN/The founder and director of Langasan Theatre.

WANG Chu-yu/A contemporary artist, performance artist, and curator based in Mainland China.

WANG Mo-lin/A theater director, performance artist and cultural critic Robin WEICHERT (Tokyo).

Robin WEICHERT (Tokyo)/A teacher of Hosei University, Tokyo.

WU Sih-Fong/A theater Critic, Associate editor of Performing Arts Forum (Macau).

ZHAO Chuana/A writer, theater maker and curator who creates alternative and socially engaged theater in China. Also, he is the founding member and mastermind of the theater collective Grass Stage since 2005.


BAEK Jin-sol/A student of master programme of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan.

Kris CHI /M.A. of National Central University Department of English.

Victor FUNG Tsz Ching/A freelance translator graduated from Department of English, City University of Hong Kong.

LEONG Jie Yu/A Master’s degree in English Language Studies from the University of Malaya.

LIANG Chun-wen/Graduated from Department of English, National Central University.

LO Chun Yat, Timothy/M.A. of the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Ting University.

Shu-Chuan LIN/M.A. of National Chung Hsing University Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and freelance translator.

IP Po Yee/M.A. of the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.

Jonathan S. PARHUSIP/Ph.D. of the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.

Kin TONG/A translator and researcher on psychoanalysis theory.

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