Asian Theatre and Dance–cfp

CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS: Adaptation, Translation and Acculturation in Asian Theatre and Dance
A Symposium at the Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance, Royal Holloway, University of London, 25 May 2018

Adaptation, and parallel adaptive acts such as translation (Jakobson 2000) and acculturation, are the foundation blocks for intercultural and cross-cultural projects (Chan 2012), but also have agency in developing national multicultural narratives (Leong 2014).  As Chan highlights, ‘adaptations serve as carriers of cultural subjects and formations’ (2014: 412).  Inevitably, acts of intercultural and cross-cultural adaptation are bound to the cultural-political sphere, to post-colonial and neo-colonial histories. Yet, they are as much a product of the personal and the national, as they are the communal and the global. Translation happens not only between texts but also within performance, articulating the commensurability or lack of understanding among actors representing contrasting world views (Lindsay 2007).

The expansive possibility of theatre adaptation makes endeavours to find an all-encompassing theoretical model futile.  As David Johnson has asserted, ‘translation and theatre locate its practitioners as non-centred points in an ever fluctuating network of activity’ (2011: 16).  Nevertheless, invoking Mieke Bal’s notion of ‘travelling concepts’ (2009), Kamilla Elliott invites the scrutiny of ‘conceptual threads across disciplines’ (2013:36) in practices of adaptation. By tracing these threads, Elliott suggests we might seek out the ‘middle way between totalizing grand theory and random local case studies’ (2013: 36).

This symposium seeks to trace the conceptual threads underpinning adaptation (including translation and acculturation) in contemporary performance that engages with “Asia” in the broadest sense. It explores the interweaving of conceptual threads at the national and/or global level, in multicultural, intercultural and/or cross-cultural spheres of practice. Specifically, it asks:

  • What are the conceptual threads underpinning contemporary theatre adaptation that concerns itself with the multiplicity of Asia?
  • What power relationships are brought into play in processes of adaptation?
  • In intercultural and cross-cultural contexts, where does adaptation end and neo-colonial appropriation begin?
  • What function does adaptation play in multicultural assimilation, or resistance to assimilation?
  • Can adaptation be a means to formal theatrical innovation?
  • How might adaptation be an embodied act that decentres the primacy of text?

Proposals for papers (15-20 minutes), lecture-demonstrations (25-30 minutes) or round table discussions with three or more speakers (30-45 minutes)  are invited that address one or more of these themes.  These can be sent to before 15 April.


Bal, M. (2009) ‘Working with Concepts,’ European Journal of English Studies, 13:1, 13-23.

Chan, L. (2012) ‘A survey of the ‘new’ discipline of adaptation studies: between translation and interculturalism,’ Perspectives, 20:4, 411-418.

Elliott, K. (2013) ‘Theorizing adaptations / adapting theories,’ in Adaptation

Studies: New Studies, New Directions, Bruhn, J., Gjelsvik, A., Hannssen, E. F. (eds.) London: Bloomsbury, 34.

Jakobson, R. (2004), ‘On Linguistic Aspects of Translation’, in The Translation Studies Reader, Venuti, L. London and New York: Routledge

Johnson, D. (2011) ‘Metaphor and Metonymy: the Translator-Practitioner’s

Visibility’ in Staging and Performance Translation: Text and Theatre Practice, Baines, R., Marinetti, C. and Perteghella, M. (eds.). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 9-30.

Leong , C.H. (2014) ‘Social markers of acculturation: A new research framework on intercultural adaptation,’ International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 38, 120-132.

Lindsay, J., ed. (2007) Between Tongues: Translation And/of/in Performance in Asia. Singapore: NUS Press.

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