and introduction of puppetry to Shakespearean stage, all function as intercultural symbolic references for Ong and Kishida’s Western audiences as the references to the Pan-Asian multicultural reference does for their Eastern ones.
Yong Li Lan highlights Shakespeare’s plays localisation uneasiness to Asian performance, 1 and the Ong’s trilogy’s consciously self-reflexity of the Asianness performance. In addition to its diverse functionality in global market, the establishment of idiosyncratic style a ‘fragment’ has garnered much scholarly interest:23 The potential attainment of Ong’s social ideals rests in the hands of his audience. The play’s language and cultural diversities imply Ong’s personal experience; expressing ideals through multiple symbolisms is imperatively necessary because society prevents actuality to be presented publicly. 3.2 A Tactic PlayMoving from Shakespeare’s Cordelia’s anticipation of a divided kingdom, when the acteur-directeur Ong Keng Sen highlights the missing daughter (Regan) is an approach that allows silence to speak louder than words, 4 the approach also applies to his silencing Second Daughter in scene 2 wherein Shakespeare’s King Lear Cordelia has her ever-attractive and less commonplace monologue and the self-explanatory lines (I.
i.94-102) that in Ong’s play cascades with aggrieved choreography that omits the role’s righteous quality, it is imperative to highlight that most of the critical analyses of Cordelia focus on the director’s costume and movement impersonation technique integration of Japanese Noh and Beijing opera into the play. Indeed, pan-Asian multicultural integration is significant in Ong’s Shakespearean trilogy Desdemona, Hamlet and King Lear, as he describes in one interview with Alette Scavenius that his core interest is re-imagining and scrambling culture, cultural authenticity, and cultural possession exercise.5 It is observed that the director’s motive of androgynous Cordelia silenced throughout the whole scene 1 an impressionistic deployment to suggest, firstly, that Younger Daughter’s strong stance of moral conscience results in possessing a male confidence in a female soul, and secondly, an allegory of Asian’s gender polarised politics which are both instrumental to its ultimate question provocation regarding prolonged political stasis.
Alongside with silenced mother/wife appearance when her Daughter struggles (Scene 4, 0:30:15-33:12; Scene 6; Scene 17, 0:50:53-51:15 and 2:07:00-08:30) and the solo, masculine Older Daughter who rule the kingdom seem to fall into the same study. Notwithstanding such direction, it seems that critics undertake Ong’s readily connotation to intercultural metadrama study disregarding the cinematic conventions that Ong also explores. Ong’s recapitulative adaptation of Shakespeare’s social justice on Lear’s breach of both ‘familial and kingly bonds’ pounces in various forms, a traitor with hidden base sin6 who rules the kingdom and, like the ghosts and the ghost of his Younger Daughter follows her tragic murder that foreshadows the play like the feeble beam that envelopes the whole play besets anxiety with deadly mistake that left Lear alone, “by the river of forgetfulness, I will sing about my days of glory” (Scene 8, 0:58:20-59:05) in the course of the play.
For example, Ong’s Fool appears in Scene 1 between the conversation of the ghosts of Lear, Older Daughter and Younger Daughter and Lear apprehensive giving away his kingdom, rendering an explanation of king’s nugatory, a havoc for the common people (Scene 1, 0:11-0:14). You know nothing about the babies out there dying of starvation and crying for milk. You know nothing about the mothers who cry because their breasts have run dry. As Lear asks what is starvation, the Fool goes, Another word for sorrow, another word for pain.
As the reader compares Ong’s Fool with Shakespeare’s Fool who focuses on cascading Lear’s misjudgement over his daughters, instead he should “Lend less than thou owest, … Learn more than thou trowest,” (I.v.118, 120) and his prophecies of a falling kingdom where ‘bawds and whores do churches build; Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion’ (III.ii.90-2), Ong’s theatrical King Lear uses the Fool to similarly question the absolute monarch throughout the play as Goneril said, “King is Power,”