Drawing from Grotowski and beyond: Kuo Pao Kun’s discourse on audiences in Singapore in the 1980s
ABSTRACT Much has been researched on Kuo Pao Kun’s multilingualism and multiculturalism. However, the analysis of Kuo’s discourse on audiences remains largely unexplored. There is a need to understand the ways which theatre practitioners imagine audiences as it points to issues of subjectivity, audience participation and social engagement, especially in an economically-driven society like Singapore where people are often positioned as docile economic subjects. Among the many Asian and Western dramatists Kuo drew inspiration from, Jerzy Grotowski was pivotal. This essay examines how the latter’s ideas was crucial to how Kuo envisioned theatre and audiences.
KEYWORDS: Kuo Pao Kun; audiences and theatre; subjectivity; Jerzy Grotowski; cultural activism.
How Wee Ng is postdoctoral fellow at the University of Westminster, London. He has lectured at the University of Hull and SOAS, University of London. Research interests range from censorship in Sinophone cinema and television to issues of cultural intervention in Singapore theatre. Selected publications include monograph Drama Box and the Social Theatre of Singapore: Cultural Intervention and Artistic Autonomy (Nanyang Technological University Chinese Language and Cultural Centre, 2011), book chapter “Rethinking censorship in China: The case of Snail House (Woju)” (Routledge, 2015), and forthcoming articles on Sinophone intercultural theatre, Mainland Chinese television and Singapore theatre.