There is no publicly funded Shakespeare in the park here in Taipei, so local theatre companies have conspired to do it on their own. This weekend, Taipei Alien Dramatic Society (TADS), an armature foreign troupe based in Taipei, will stage Twelfth Night. And the best news of all for many foreigners, this great comedy will be performed in English.
Calling the play "one of Shakespeare's great gender-benders," director Lori Solbakken has decided to play it on a '60s theme, with a black JFK as the Duke of Orsino, a Jackie O-style leading lady, a bongo-toting beatnik as the fool and there's even a drag queen thrown in for good measure.
And the novelty doesn't stop there. "You know, reading the play, we all felt that it was very obvious that Shakespeare wrote Sebastian as a gay character, but it's never been played like that before," commented Solbakken. "There's also a lot of singing and dancing. Actually, we've done it as a musical."
Given Twelfth Night's tangled skein of interwoven plots and deluded lovers, there is plenty of comic potential. Moreover, Solbakken is producing it along with a crew of natural comedians, ie English teachers, who make up the majority of TADS members. Actors hail from England, Ireland, the US, the Philippines and Sierra Leone. Though some are making their stage debuts, several have come to TADS from the foreign-resident troupes that have been grouping and regrouping around Taipei for years.
What Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Who Taipei Alien Dramatic Society
Where Whashang Arts Complex (華刪藝文特區); 1 Pa-te Rd., Sec. 1 (八德路一段1號)
When Tomorrow Aug. 26 and Sunday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 pm
Tickets NT$150 with one bottle of Heineken
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