"Latest in this search for a multiple cultural rooting is expressed by a new theatre training and research programme launched by the Practice Performing Arts School which has embraced 5 classical theatre cultures - Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Indonesian and European.
The thinking is actually quite straight forward: "Since no Chinese in Singapore could return to a mono-Chinese culture, nor an Indian Indian, Malay Malay, we should, each one of us, all go forward to embrace all the diverse cultures."
Which means, in this 3-yr professional programme, every student will be trained in Chinese Classical Theatre (Xi Qu), in Indian Classical Theatre (Bharata Natyam), in Japanese Classical Theatre (Noh) and Indonesian Classical Theatre (Wayang Wong). At the same time, European Theatre from the Greeks down will also be richly exposed to the students.
The interesting thing is that, no one has protested why the programme has not focused on one of Singapore's major component cultures. Maybe one reason for that is: Prior to this teaching programme, numerous theatre groups in Singapore have been energetically exploring the dialogue and synthesis between diverse theatre traditions.
These are clear examples of the result of a cultural orphan's considerations in the face of inevitable challenges thrown at them by the fast developing national, regional and global arts and cultural movement.
The opportunities and dangers of such a journey of artistic experimentation and cultural exploration merits serious examination and critique.
One possible problem is that while each citizen has a traceable history to pursue in his/her own racial and historical, the same connection can hardly be made in other the cultures they learn. Which means the cultures "alien" to one's own race are normally learned without life connections - present or past. As such, it is very likely that most of the people would learn "other" cultures with a sense of exoticism.
However, if they could somehow manage to transcend that problem, and go on to effectively suck milk from many mothers, the orphaning journey would then become a necessary journey of trials and tribulations leading to a richer multi-cultural heritage.
I would like to be able to report some results in 5-10 years time."
(Considerations of a Cultural Orphan: Choices and Challenges of the Singapore Theatre, Kuo Pao Kun, p. 293-295)
Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Forum (9-12 Oct 2000): Proceedings for Symposium (亞太傳統藝術論壇研討會論文集)
Publisher: National Center for Traditional Arts, Taiwan, 2002
ISBN: 9570108800, 9789570108804