Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 19 News List

A festival for our 'little friends'

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei's Clown-mime Group performs Angel's Smile Monday evening at Daan park.


When the Department of Cultural Affairs took over the Taipei Children's Arts Festival in 1999, the idea was to "just let the children have fun in the summer" said Tina Chen (陳慈銘), community services division chief at the Department of Cultural Affairs. After two years of moderate success, however, they decided to redesign the festival in hopes of garnering a larger crowd.

The result: a festival dedicated to theater arts with a whole array of activities that are both educational and fun. Last year some 300,000 children and their parents attended performances in Daan park, and this year organizers anticipate an even larger turnout for their open-air concerts.

To commemorate the 120th anniversary of the founding of Taipei, and to teach children the significance of their cultural heritage, some of the plays and puppet shows incorporate the historical development of Taipei into their storylines, while others provide updated versions of familiar fairytales and folklore. Interactive drama classes taught by trained professionals that are aimed at giving children hands-on experience in basic theater techniques are also offered throughout the month-long festival.

In addition to getting kids out of the house and away from the TV or computer screens, the benefits of the arts festival, Chen said, are a lifetime of positive memories. "You can't believe what it is like to see these kids, who, for maybe the first time, sit together laughing and clapping with thousands, even tens of thousands of other children. Their interaction with the actors is wonderful. If this kind of experience can happen three, four, or five times in a child's life then, it will make a big impression on their future."

This year the cultural affairs department is extending its regular line-up of accomplished local troupes to include four European groups from France, Poland, Bulgaria and Slovenia specializing in children's puppet theater, and will perform at various venues around the city.

The opening ceremony is tomorrow in Daan park, beginning at 7pm with a song-and-puppet performance to follow immediately afterward. A detailed schedule of performance dates, times and venues along with a brief synopsis is available online in both English and Chinese at

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