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© 2020

Touring Variety in the Asia Pacific Region, 1946–1975

Book

Part of the Transnational Theatre Histories book series (TTH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Jonathan Bollen
    Pages 1-23
  3. Jonathan Bollen
    Pages 85-114
  4. Jonathan Bollen
    Pages 199-207
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 209-250

About this book

Introduction

Aviation extended the horizon of international touring across Asia and the Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s. Nightclubs in Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Taipei presented an international array of touring acts. This book investigates how this happened. It explores the post-war formation of the Asia Pacific region through international touring and the transformation of entertainment during the ‘jet age’ of aviation. Drawing on archival research across the region, Bollen investigates how touring variety forged new relations between artists, audiences, and nations. Mapping tours and tracing networks by connecting fragments, he reveals how versatile artists translated repertoire in circulation as they toured, and how entrepreneurial endeavours harnessed the production of national distinction to government agendas. He argues that touring variety on commercial circuits diversified the repertoire in regional circulation, anticipating the diversity emerging in state-sanctioned multiculturalisms, and driving the government-construction of national theatres for cultural diplomacy.

Long before the Asian-intercultural theatre wave of the 1980s, Jonathan Bollen’s deeply researched study shows how touring variety acts and cabaret shows were already remaking the political and cultural economies of the Asia-Pacific. Bollen’s socio-historical analysis explores variety in the Cold War era of popular music, accessible jet travel, live television, and the paradoxical dynamics of racialized containment policies and economic expansionism.

Peter Eckersall, The Graduate Center CUNY, USA.

 

Variety theatre, cabaret and dance flourished in the renovated industries of postwar commercial entertainment. From Melbourne to Manila and Tokyo, comics, musicians, and dancers informed popular imaginaries in nightclubs, stage spectaculars, radio, and television. These excitingly mobile cultural energies were also key agents of popular Cold War diplomacy in the region, and Bollen’s ground-breaking study shows how television, the civilian aeroplane, and the cruise liner all became cultural ‘containers’ delivering to the various peoples of the Asia Pacific region the thrills of modern cosmopolitan tourism.

Veronica Kelly, FAHA, University of Queensland, Australia.

 

Bollen provides fresh and original insights on issues of migration, exile, and place-making in music, popular entertainment, and performance. Interweaving the intricate narratives of artists from the Asia Pacific region in the 1950s and the 1960s, Bollen also directs us to reflect on how ‘touring variety’ in the mid-twentieth century reverberates in the present. … This is a must-read, not only for theatre and performance scholars, but also for historians, ethnomusicologists, and researchers in the area and cultural studies.

Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines.


Keywords

Asia Pacific Audience Performers Nation Diversity Hong Kong Manila Melbourne Singapore Taipei Sydney Tokyo Nightclubs Travelogue

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of the Arts and MediaUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

About the authors

Jonathan Bollen is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include performance and desire, popular entertainment, regional touring, productions of Australian plays, and digital methods for research.  

Bibliographic information

Reviews

“Long before the Asian-intercultural theatre wave of the 1980s, Jonathan Bollen’s deeply researched study shows how touring variety acts and cabaret shows were already remaking the political and cultural economies of the Asia-Pacific. Bollen’s socio-historical analysis explores variety in the Cold War era of popular music, accessible jet travel, live television, and the paradoxical dynamics of racialized containment policies and economic expansionism.” (Peter Eckersall, The Graduate Center CUNY, USA)

“Variety theatre, cabaret and dance flourished in the renovated industries of postwar commercial entertainment. From Melbourne to Manila and Tokyo, comics, musicians, and dancers informed popular imaginaries in nightclubs, stage spectaculars, radio, and television. These excitingly mobile cultural energies were also key agents of popular Cold War diplomacy in the region, and Bollen’s ground-breaking study shows how television, the civilian aeroplane, and the cruise liner all became cultural ‘containers’ delivering to the various peoples of the Asia Pacific region the thrills of modern cosmopolitan tourism.” (Veronica Kelly, FAHA, University of Queensland, Australia)

“Bollen provides fresh and original insights on issues of migration, exile, and place-making in music, popular entertainment, and performance. Interweaving the intricate narratives of artists from the Asia Pacific region in the 1950s and the 1960s, Bollen also directs us to reflect on how ‘touring variety’ in the mid-twentieth century reverberates in the present. … This is a must-read, not only for theatre and performance scholars, but also for historians, ethnomusicologists, and researchers in the area and cultural studies.” (Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines)