Asian Theatre

Widely recognized as the finest university-based center for the study and practice of Asian performance in the world, the Asian Theatre program’s international reputation attracts students from Europe, Asia, the Pacific region, and North America. We offer students an extensive Asian theatre curriculum taught by three full-time Asian Theatre faculty members, and frequent short-term guest-taught workshops in a wide variety of Asian theatre genres. The program’s centerpiece is our yearly training residency, in which students have the exciting opportunity to undergo long-term, intensive training in a traditional Asian theatre form with renowned master artists of the genre, who provide rigorous training in semester-long movement, voice, and instrumental courses, as well as individualized instruction in the performance of specific roles and  instruments. Currently the theatres of China, Japan, and Indonesia are regularly featured in a four-year cultural rotation that often includes an additional Asian culture; frequently-taught forms are jingju, kabuki, kyogen, nohrandai, and wayang kulit. Residencies culminate in an English-language production of a representative major play, presented on the Kennedy Theatre Mainstage. These master-artist training residencies essentially “bring the field to the university,” enabling a multifaceted, integrative course of study that is truly unique. They have also produced some of the most outstanding Asian theatre productions to be seen outside their respective countries of origin. Since 1923, the Asian Theatre program has produced numerous world-premiere English-language productions of traditional and modern Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Korean, Indian and Thai theatre, as well as original, experimental works based on or influenced by research and training in specific genres of Asian theatre – some the work of Asian Theatre directing candidates.

We offer more Asian Theatre courses and integrate more Asian Theatre training and performance than any other program in the US, with undergraduate and graduate courses in Asian, Chinese, Japanese, and South and Southeast Asian theatre history, theory, dramatic literature, and performance practice (e.g., acting, directing, puppetry), as well as multiple individual-study options. Our award-winning faculty is widely recognized around the world for their scholarship, creative work, and residency design and direction. To date the program has produced over ninety masters and doctoral graduates in Asian theatre, who are now working in Asia, North and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa, as college and university teachers and administrators, and as theatre professionals.

We believe strongly in partnering with the community and regularly present scenes and lecture-demonstrations at schools, libraries, and other community institutions; in addition, several productions have toured the neighbor islands and the U.S. mainland. Our unique English-language productions of traditional Asian theatre are appreciated in their countries of origin, as well—three jingju productions have toured China at Chinese invitation, and the randai productions, the only instances of traditional randai being performed outside of Indonesia, have been invited to tour Sumatra.

Specialized Asian Theatre graduate degree programs are offered at the MA, MFA, and PhD levels.