The Theatre of Essence in the Making: The Secret Art of EX-Theatre Asia’s Actor Training Approach

Tsu Chung Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chongtham Jayanta Meetei is a native Manipuri of India and currently the Artistic Director of EX-Theatre Asia based in Miaoli City, Taiwan. When he first came to Taiwan in 2005, he experienced culture shock, language barriers, and all kinds of miscommunication. As an immigrant artist in Taiwan, he felt alienated and frustrated in the beginning. In order to assimilate himself into local customs and cultures and to re-establish himself as a theatre artist in Taiwan’s theatre circle, he began to grope for an actor training method and a theatre vision which could be rooted in Taiwan, yet have Asian and even global resonance. This search quickly became an existential quest for his roots in the rich cultural storehouse of Manipur and India. In addition to his Manipuri and Indian theatre roots, Jayanta also strived to integrate classical Asian theatre, Taiwan traditional theatre, Western realistic theatre, postmodern physical theatre, and other theatre forms into his brand of theatre aesthetics. He ended up naming his enterprise the “theatre of essence.” As time went by, the idea of the theatre of essence has become the cornerstone fundamental to Jayanta’s artistic endeavors and visions. In this paper, I first examine the question of “essence” in Jayanta’s career as a theatre artist and explore the definition of the theatre of essence as proposed by him. Next, I look into the use of the rasa theory and other related theories of the Nāyaśāstra in the theory and practice of Jayanta’s theatre of essence. I proceed to analyze Jayanta’s dramaturgy, theatricality, and actor training method. Then, I discuss his theatre vision and critically appraise his theatre of essence in the making. Lastly, I draw a conclusion about Jayanta’s initiative of the theatre of essence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-269
Number of pages39
JournalConcentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar


  • Chongtham Jayanta Meetei
  • EX-Theatre Asia
  • rasa
  • the Nāyaśāstra
  • the theatre of essence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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