"Being in the 'small theater' scene may well be the first step toward mainstream theater," Ju Zung-chin(朱宗慶), chairman of the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center, said at the press conference for the opening of the 2002 International Theater Festival. He went on to cite the careers of Lee Kuo-shiu(李國修), artistic director of Pin Fong Acting Troupe, and Stan Lai(賴聲川), founder of the Performance Workshop, both of whom gradually rose to international recognition after showing their talent in
With this in mind, the CKS Cultural Center(中正文化中心), in cooperation with Huan Shii Theater Group(歡喜扮戲團), Taiwan's only group of sextagenarian storytellers, puts on the 2002 International Theater Festival as a way of looking for the next big thing. The month-long festival will include workshops, a book fair, photo exhibitions and theater performances.
Stressing the importance of vocal expression and body language in theater performance, the festival has invited local and foreign groups famous for these skills. "In choosing local groups for the festival, we were faced with the embarrassing situation that few groups in Taiwan can really compare with the international groups we invited such as Odin Teatret," said Peng Ya-ling(彭雅玲)of the Huan Shii Theater Group(歡喜扮戲團). "But at Ju's insistence, we chose the very best in terms of vocal expression and physical
methodology," she added.
Off Performance Workshop, the younger and experimental branch of Performance Workshop, whose dialogue-free dance adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear caught the organizer's attention, will team up with Sun Son Theater, acclaimed for their dynamic drumming-integrated group dance, in a new version of the show, Drumming with Lear. "We were invited to join the festival because of our minimalist approach to stage setting and props and the fact that we put more emphasis on physical expression," said Lee
Jian-chang (李建常), Off Performance's director.
Among the foreign groups are France's Voix Polyphonique, whose Le Roti L'imperatrice shows an amazing array of energetic vocal techniques, which keeps the audience well awake despite its minimal use of light and props.
After Voix Polyphonique kicks off the event next weekend, there are more international groups to come. Danish group Odin Teatret will stage five performances, including Traces in the Snow, in which actress Roberta Carreri will demonstrate how, for the past 30 years, she has trained actors to make a character come to life on stage.
Other foreign performers will include Birute Mar, Sagliocco Ensemble and Birgitte Grimstad, who will probably cooperate with Taiwan's U Theater.
Tickets for the shows are available at the venue or through Acer ticketing outlets for NT$500. For more information, visit the festival's Web site at http://www.ntch.edu.tw/service/festival.