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Communities of ImaginationContemporary Southeast Asian Theatres$
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Catherine Diamond

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835842

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835842.001.0001

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Durians, Diversity, and Independence

Durians, Diversity, and Independence

The Malaysian Theatre Stages Its Multiethnic Heritage

Chapter 9 Durians, Diversity, and Independence
Communities of Imagination

Catherine Diamond

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter demonstrates how the theatre scene in Kuala Lumpur reveals the many layers of interaction and exclusion at work in Malaysian society. While English fluency aids the country in global affairs, it runs counter to any attempt to develop a national identity based on the Malay language and culture. Malay theatre strives to strengthen indigenous ties to the land among Malays. Meanwhile, Malay literature has been mostly indifferent to representing ethnic minorities. Theatre and literature have been commandeered into the process of allegorizing a particular national identity and subordinating the role of minorities. A paradox then emerges: since the Malay theatre has been given the “important” task of contributing to Malay national culture, Malay playwrights are no longer as free as they were in the 1970s to explore the variety in Malaysian life.

Keywords:   Malay theatre, Malaysian society, Malay literature, English fluency, ethnic minorities, national identity, Malaysian playwrights, Kuala Lumpur

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