Director's Message


Less than a year since our inaugural meeting in Singapore, I am happy and proud to report that we are well on our way to the next gathering of the Asian Dramaturgs’ Network! As we gather momentum for ADN Meeting 2017, we are also excited as well as honoured to be part of the established TPAM (Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama) 2017.

There are many reasons why an ADN gathering at TPAM is a vital step forward for us. This 22-year-old annual performing arts event boasts an assembly of stellar and critically-acclaimed directors, choreographers and artists presenting, discussing and communing in a vortex of performances and works-in-progress. What better environment than this to spark off and continue the dramaturgical discourse that we started in Singapore!

More than that, TPAM has indeed a proud history of being a platform and showcase for emergent and urgent performing arts as well as artistic and creative individuals in the Asian region. This is a vital part of ADN’s mission in our interrogation of dramaturgy and the dramaturg, where we actively situate these concepts and theories in a regional frame. 

Our inaugural meeting in Singapore called attention to the exigent practice and theory of dramaturgy that may be unique to the region. This call in turn saw a gathering of dramaturgs, arts practitioners and scholars from the region to discourse in a focused manner on what it means to practice dramaturgy, what it means to dramaturg and was there such a ‘thing’ as  ‘Asian dramaturgy and the dramaturg’. 

As implied in our inaugural theme of Mapping Out, In & About, we at ADN initially had one question: “Who out there in Asia practises dramaturgy and what does the dramaturg do?” This led to rich and profound excavations – and provocations ­– that in turn led to what does dramaturgy ‘do’ and the notion of the dramaturg as a concept. 

It was clear that cultural, social, historical and political diversity in the region gave birth to a myriad of dramaturgical thinking and practices – presently and historically. As much as we were modest in our ambitions to just recognise the thinkers and doers of dramaturgy in the region for ADN Symposium 2016, the fruits of mere mapping out who’s who and who’s doing what meant we could now move on to do a bit more fine tracing in the next ADN instalment.

And so with ADN 2017 we hone in synergy with TPAM and the Yokohama Dance Collection to focus on the dramaturgy of and dramaturging the performing body. Specifically, we delve into the mechanics as well as mental machinations of dance as bodily and intellectual performance practice. We sharpen our focus even more when we present panels on feminist and gendered performances to mine dramaturgical thinking and action in these two potent and often controversial themes. As body, text and media intersect, we also highlight redefinitions of intercultural and interdisciplinary processes that are present in our practices.

On a broader vista, ADN also wants to commit to the Asian in our ‘A’ as we try to investigate the roots and traditions of earlier dramaturgical thinking and practices inherent in our performance traditions and conventions in Asia. This exciting new venture hopes to invest in a less interrogated history of dramaturgy in Asia that might have developed and nurtured through different definitions and terminologies. We then zoom in on specific practices of our host country Japan, where we turn to local dramaturgs and arts practitioners for their take and strategies on working out dramaturgy in performance. For more details on these panels, do visit the Programme page.

As much as ADN is slowly becoming – we hope – a meeting of diverse dramaturgs and arts practitioners, the network is never without a team of individuals who actually pave the platform ripe for meeting. For this I owe my gratitude to Centre 42 (Singapore) for their unflinching support logistically, materially, administratively; not forgetting the much needed emotional as well as intellectual rallying. Last but not least my very thanks to TPAM, especially Hiromi Maruoka and Masahiko Yokoburi, who also believe in our mission to bring dramaturgy to the fore – considering that the very idea of dramaturgy is one of compelling covertness and invisibility! 

From the humid and saturated tropical backdrop in Singapore’s productive and meaningful ADN Symposium 2016, please join us under the crisp skies of Yokohama for an even more brilliant ADN Meeting 2017.

ADN Director
7 December 2016