Fri, May 20, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Experimental theater puts its best foot forward

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Golden Bough Theater presents All in One, and other plays.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

The New Idea Theater Festival began last night at the National Theater of the CKS Memorial Hall with the first of three pieces by Taiwan's leading experimental theater troupes. Performances run tonight through June 5, in Chinese and Taiwanese.

Putting arguably the festival's best foot forward is one of Taiwan's more established experimental troupes, Golden Bough Theater (金枝演社), presenting All in One (三合一).

It has given free reign to their players to script three vignettes that focus on friendship, love and death and the result is an evening of surprisingly mature and cohesive theater. This is experimental, and it works.

Stage veteran Wu Peng-feng (吳朋奉) is joined by Lin Pei-an (林浿安) Shi Dong-lin (施冬麟) and Indian actor Chongtham Jayanta Meetei in vignettes that are mixed with French and Indian influences. In one scene, Wu's character visits a friend he hasn't seen in a while who is writing a desperate letter to the love of his life and contemplating suicide. The scene is set to the Edith Piaf song Lucien and has Wu performing a rough transliteration of the lyrics from French to Taiwanese.

Meetai, in his scene, gives a memorable performance as a Hindu devotee who encounters a god. His musical use of Hindi overcomes what might otherwise be a language barrier.

In the decade since it was founded, Golden Bough Theater has made a name for itself by performing everywhere from formal theaters to small-town night markets throughout Taiwan. Their style is marked by a fusion of modern theater elements with traditional Taiwanese opera.

Audiences who caught Golden Bough players performing My Dinner with Shakespeare last month will recognize the troupe's preferred modus operandi in All in One; a series of scenes with a joining theme that are both far out and grounded in reality.

The coming two weekends will see another two of Taiwan's experimental troupes tread the boards. Xitian Society Musical Workshop (西田社劇曲工作坊) will present Portrait of Love next weekend and Dramatic Idea (劇點子工作室) will follow with Who is Planning a Scheme the following week. All in One runs tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm with a

2:30pm matinee on Sunday. Portrait of Love has similar showings next Thursday, May 26 through May 29 and Who is Planning a Scheme will run June 3 to June 5 at 7:30pm, with matinees on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 at 2:30. All performances are at the Experimental Theater of the National Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場), 21-1, Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21-1號). Tickets for each performance are NT$400 or NT$960 for all three and available at the CKS Cultural Center or on the Web at www.artsticket.com.tw. For more information, call (02) 3393 9888.

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