Asian performance cultures produce a rich diversity of interactions with the idea of Shakespeare embodied in his work—as classics of Western dramatic form; as the playwright with the strongest claim to universal appeal; as cultural capital; and as the supreme model of the English language.
The Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive—A|S|I|A—aims to share approaches to performing Shakespeare in East and Southeast Asia through a collaborative , multilingual online database and archive of materials. It is intended for scholars, practitioners, teachers, students and general audiences of intercultural performance and of Shakespeare. To expand awareness of how complex, evolved, and different these performances can be, A|S|I|A provides the following integrated components:
• streaming videos of full production recordings, presented with
• original scripts and script translations in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, that allow productions to be viewed in one language or multiple languages; and
• a searchable database of information on each production in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, drawn up in a collaborative process that brings performance cultures into interaction with one another.
The objective of the archive’s materials and tools as a whole is to provide the basis for an accurate, contextualized and comparative experience of Asian Shakespeare performances. (1) The individual and culture-specific choices in a production’s forms, references, staging strategies and approach to adapting Shakespeare’s play are clarified by being placed in relation to a range of other choices. (2) By making it possible to distinguish connections and singularities in performance treatments of Shakespeare’s plays, directions may be charted in a consolidated field of performance practices across the region’s languages and countries. Specific elements in the performance staging may be compared using the archive’s Pie charts of Art/Forms categories.
The A|S|I|A website itself represents an exploration of intercultural practices for the digital archiving of performance. Its four parallel language environments are fully equivalent throughout, and users can switch between them at any time. This design enables archival research in a single language, which is at the same time porous to and interactive with accompanying positionalities in the other languages. The integration of languages, and thereby language communities, within a single domain corresponds to and expands the intercultural performativity of the original productions, as well as of the communities who create, watch, archive and study them. Tools for facilitating the use of the archive’s materials in presentations, online learning and user interaction are under continuous development.
A|S|I|A is produced through collaborative work that engages the communities to which it belongs. The team includes people of different nationalities and ages, scholars, practitioners, translators, students, and technical experts. It would not be possible without the substantial support of the Singapore Ministry of Education, JSPS, and the unprecedented generosity of theatre companies and practitioners in our region.