Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Singaporean Director Ong Keng Sen--Beyond Cool

On January 12, I had the opportunity to hear the incredibly brilliant and beautiful Singaporean director of The Silver River, Ong Keng Sen, speak at the University of Michigan Center for Southeast Asian Studies about Collaboration across Borders in Art and Culture. He has received international acclaim for epic theatrical presentations that bridge cultures, making theatre a transcultural, transdisciplinary, collaborative art. He is very interested in the politics and negotiation of cultural expressions and collaborations that cross cultural boundaries, and using traditional and contemporary art to forge a new multicultural pan-Asian identity across international lines, asserting a new Asian asthetic in contemporary theatre.

I am always writing about APAs creating culture, multicultural living, pan-Asian alliances, and teaching our children about both their Asian heritage and their place in American history. However, it had never occurred to me that Asians in Asian countries might have some of the same concerns. I think that we APAs sometimes try to distance ourselves from contemporary Asians in Asia because we are tired of always being mistaken for foreigners or because we think of Asian culture as old and out of date. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, we could be part of something bigger than “Yul Kwon wins Survivor” and “Rosie O’Donnell said ‘ching chong ching chong.’”

Check this out from “Theatreworks asks, What is Asian in this age of globalisation, internationalization, modernisation and urbanisation? Its work exists on the tension between modernity and tradition; local and global. It hopes to rethink what is Western, what is Eastern, what is first world and what is third world: Do these dichotomies continue to make sense in the new millennium? Representing the continuum between tradition and contemporary, the work is unafraid to be exotic and yet conceptual. Theatreworks' aesthetics projects the hybrid identity of the modern Asian and embrace the multiple realities.”

How cool is that? You should also check out

So much beauty and brilliance in one week, I’m about to have a heart attack.

Also check out Frances Kai-Hwa Wang's
Harry Potter, Asian-American Living, and Raising Our Children with Culture(s)--Multiculturalism as a lifestyle choice, not an abstraction or afterthought and

A Visit to the Hilo Longs Drugs (or Why I love Hawai’i)