“In Our Two Selves”: Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig on Japanese Theatre

  • Min Tian
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig have been venerated together as two of the founding fathers of modern European theatre. They had much in common in their ideas on theatre, and they shared a keen interest in Japanese theatre. Having known nothing about Japanese performance, Appia had a stimulating experience of the real, but ultimately rejected it. Having gained a knowledge of virtually every aspect of Asian theatre, Craig, however, had a nightmarish experience of the real and rejected it from the outset. Consciously averse to the real, Craig could only relish in his imagination the time-honoured tradition of Asian theatre that was, for him, unknowable and dangerous to know and absorb. Appia’s and Craig’s views of Asian theatre were racially and culturally predetermined and confined. Craig, more conversant with Asian theatre than Appia was, went even further in his negative—seen from our contemporary globalized perspective—approach to Asian theatre than his German “self.”


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Tian
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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