Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Promoting the play as a textual experience

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

A scene from Depressed Inflatable Doll.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TAINAN JEN

Fresh from its premiere of Sonata of the Witches: The Macbeth Verses (女巫奏鳴曲 馬克白詩篇) at the National Theater's Experimental Theater in Taipei last weekend, Tainan Jen Theater (台南人劇場) will be presenting two more new plays on its home turf.

A Promise of An 18th Birthday (18歲的約定) will premiere this weekend and Depressed Inflatable Doll (充氣娃娃憂鬱C) will premiere next weekend. Both works are the result of the drama training program that has been an integral part of Tainan Jen's work over the years. In both cases, the directors are graduates of a drama workshop that began in 1999 and is currently in its fourth year. The cast of Promise is drawn exclusively from students of the Fourth Drama Workshop.

According to a statement issued by the Tainan Jen Theater, the release of these and other plays is largely designed to redress the dearth of original material being written for the stage. According to Lu Po-shen (呂柏伸), the director of Sonata of the Witches: The Macbeth Verses and the artistic director of the theater group, Tainan Jen feels strongly about the imbalance between the physical and the textual in Taiwan's contemporary theater.

In an interview during rehearsals for Sonata in Taipei, Lu said that it was texts, which create a dramatic tradition.

"Without texts, the theater is totally ephemeral," he said. "We cannot create a dramatic tradition unless we have dramatic texts, classic dramatic character and so forth. It is a common complaint in drama circles that while plenty of young people are eager to tread the boards, few want to engage in the relatively unglamorous work of writing plays."

While Promise is actually an adaptation of a Japanese work, designed primarily to provide a play with roles for nine female actors, Lu feels that its program of training and support for young talent might go some way to providing texts for what may one day become a local theatrical tradition.

Depressed Inflatable Doll is an original work.

Performance Notes:

The plays will be performed at Tainan Jen's homebase, located at 85 Shengli Rd, Tainan (台南市勝利路85). Tickets cost NT$250 and are available from Tainan Jen by calling (6) 274 7605, or through Eslite bookstores in Tainan. More information can also be obtained from the group's Web site at www.tainanjen.org.tw.

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