What makes theatre modern?: an interview with Kuo Pao Kun by Quah Sy Ren
KUO Pao Kun and QUAH Sy Ren (Translated by WONG Chee Meng, edited by C. J. W.-L. WEE and QUAH Sy Ren)
Kuo Pao Kun (1939-2002) was often regarded as the doyen of Singapore theatre. The interview reveals how his theatre practice in the 1960s-1970s worked through Chinese theatre (in both its spoken and more traditional sung forms), Brechtian theatre (with its alienation effect) and modern Russian theatre (in its naturalistic form) in the attempt to form a flexible modern Chinese-language theatre in Singapore that could intellectually engage with the city-state’s economic-development imperatives during the height of the Cold War. This interview is an extract from a longer interview conducted by Quah Sy Ren in 2002.
KEYWORDS: Kuo Pao Kun; Chinese theatre; Russian naturalism in theatre; theatre in Singapore; non-realist theatre; economic development and theatre
C. J. W.-L. Wee is Professor of English at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has held Visiting Fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India and the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University, among other institutions. Wee is the author of The Asian Modern: Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore (2007) and is a co-editor of Contesting Performance: Global Sites of Research (2010).
Quah Sy Ren is Associate Professor of Chinese literature at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His publications include Scenes: A Hundred Years of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913-2013 (2013), Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese Theater (2004) and Keywords: Critical Terms for Chinese Literary Study (co-authored; 2013). He is also editor of several anthologies of Singapore Chinese-language literature, and the general editor of The Complete Works of Kuo Pao Kun (2005-12).