This introductory chapter explains that within the multifaceted fabric of traditional, modern, and contemporary performance, what connects the productions discussed in the book is an overarching concern with perceptions of “contemporary modernity.” It explores the cultural dimensions of contemporary modernity as it is expressed on Southeast Asian stages. In addition, the book analyzes a range of influences on Southeast Asian dramatists from outside the region, be it the collaboration with foreign colleagues, the incorporation of foreign techniques and texts, the provision of foreign financial assistance, the quest for international recognition, or the availability of alternative models to local practice. In order to understand the changes the theatre is undergoing, one must also include the alteration in its audiences, the shifts of location, composition, expectation, and aesthetic criteria.
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