Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

A chapter on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “Reconfiguring Folk Performance for the Contemporary Stage: Sintang Dalisay and the Igal of the Sama-Bajau in Southern Philippines” by Professor MCM Santamaria of the UP Asian Center and Dr. Ricardo Abad has been published in The Folk Performing Arts in ASEAN, edited by Narupon Duangwises and Lowell D. Skar, and published in 2016 by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. 

In the book chapter, Professor Santamaria and Dr. Abad examine Sintang Dalisay, “a theater production based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, first staged in 2011 in a Philippine Catholic University. It used the igal, the folk dance tradition of the Sama Bajau, a Muslim community in Southern Philippines, as a key movement motif” (301).

“The manner of telling the above familiar tale is the distinctive aspect of the production. Set in Sampoerna, an imaginary Muslim community in the Philippines, and conceptualized as a form of community theater, the play is told using dance, chants, and live music, most of which stem from the igal and, when needed, from other indigenous performance traditions” (303).

The book chapter “argues that reconfiguring and staging folk performance must contend with issues of cultural and political representation, not all of which can be resolved in a single production” (301). In addition to the authors’ views, the chapter is supplemented with “reviews released in the press, internet posts, and academic papers written about the production” (302). “Critical reactions followed showings of the play. Some of these were positive and others negative” (310).

The chapter ends with the challenges pertaining to artistically representing communities. Drs. Santamaria and Abad write that “first, how does one face the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism that is intolerant of multiple views of Muslim culture?” (320). “A second challenge to intercultural theater comes from Orientalism, more specifically Orientalism by Orientals [...] In this homogenization, groups of people are lumped together in convenient categories and described in uniformity” (321). “A third challenge to reconfiguring folk performance is what may be called ethnographic conflation. The phenomenon can be defined as “a condition whereby a piece of fiction is confused as a piece of ethnography” (Santamaria, 2014)” (322). Last but not least “how do we handle the potential asymmetries of intercultural work? As creators based in the dominant center, how do we ensure that our partners from the marginalized field are given equal voice in the processes of creation?” (322).

Professor MCM Santamaria has a Doctor of Law in Political Science from Kyoto University, Japan. His research interests include Performance Studies, Politics, Japan and Southeast Asia, and Sama-Bajau studies. He teaches several graduate courses at the UP Asian Center that cover Japanese Culture and Society, Philippine Artistic Expressions, Southeast Asian Culture and Society, and Theater and Society in East Asia, among others. View his faculty profile. Dr. Ricardo Abad is chairperson of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. He has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Fordham University, New York. View his full profile

The Folk Performing Arts in ASEAN may be purchased online at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre

The UP Asian Center offers M.A. programs in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Get an overview of these programs. The Asian Center also houses a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. It has published several books and monographs, and hosts or organizes various lectures and conferences.