Performance Workshop theater (表演工作坊) returns to the National Theater (國家戲劇院) this evening, when the troupe's latest production, Sand and a Distant Star (在那遙遠的星球,一粒沙) opens for a week-long run in the capital.
Under the artistic directorship of Stan Lai (賴聲川), Performance Workshop has become one of Taiwan's leading contemporary theater groups since being founded in the mid-1980s. As well as performing alone, the group has also collaborated with any of the nation's smaller theater troupes.
The group has set itself apart for other local theater troupes because of its reliance on social-political aspects and topical features as the basis for many of its productions over the years. Previous productions have included a reworking of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot as well as the locally written Love On a Two-Way Street (他和他的兩個老婆), a show that was simultaneously performed in Taipei and Shanghai. The group's most recent production was last September's popular social satire, She is Walking, She is Smiling! (永遠的微笑).
For its latest production, Lai's Performance Workshop is taking a rather distant look at life, however, and venturing into the realm of fantasy. Sand and a Distant Star is a farcical comedy about alien abductions and visits by UFOs.
Popular television hostess, Chang Hsiao-yen (張小燕), plays a street vendor who firmly believes that her husband's disappearance 20 years ago has something to do with visiting aliens who took him to their planet for research purposes.
Ever since her husband's disappearance the vendor has become fascinated with UFOs, alien abductions and astronomy in the hopes that she'll track him down one day.
Rumor has it, however, that he simply ran away to China, where he started a new life with a new family, a rumor the street vendor staunchly refuses to accept as true. Believing her mother's rather far fetched fantasies and interest in things alien to be a sure sign of madness, her daughter, played by popular stage actress Cheng Bao-yi (曾寶儀), sets out to cure her mother of her illusions by staging a fake UFO landing, which is when the fun, games and theater magic begin in earnest.
The Performance Workshop theater will present Sand and a Distant Star (在那遙遠的星球,一粒沙), from this evening at the National theater.
Tickets cost from NT$300 to NT$1,800 and are available from ERA Ticketing Outlets Nationwide or direct from the venue.
Evening performances will take place at 7:30pm tonight through May 17, with the show's sole matinee performance taking place at 2:30pm on May 18.
The theater troupe will be embarking on a nationwide tour beginning in Kaoshiung on May 24.