Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Retreat to the countryside for a spot of drumming

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

It's a bit of culture and a whole lot of nature during U Theatre's two-day retreat and concert performance in Taroko Gorge this weekend.

PHOTO COURTESY OF U THEATRE

Get out for a mix of culture and nature this weekend with Taiwan's U Theatre (優劇場). The drum and martial arts inspired theater troupe has invited the public on a two-day walking retreat and concert performance in Hualien County (花蓮縣).

The catch is you need be registered in Hualien before 2pm today. If that's not possible there is still the option of catching a free, outdoor drum and drama performance in the natural setting of Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) on Saturday evening.

Although U Theatre holds annual outdoor shows at its rehearsal space in Laochuan Mountain (老泉山), in Mucha, this is the first year an over night retreat and accompanying performance has been organized and open to public. After the success of the outdoor concert The Heart of Taroko in 2004, the group decided to return to the same location. Rather than provide only a performance piece the troupe plans to bring the audience to the source of its inspiration.

"The natural environment is very important to us because it is the basis for the music we compose and movement we choreograph," said Chiara Hsiesh (謝曉婷) U Theatre activity commissioner. "The experience of walking and meditating in the mountains is the best way to share with the audience the importance of nature to U Theatre."

The event is restricted to 40 people and begins today at 3pm. After a long trek around Kuanyuan (觀原) discussion and dinner will precede an evening meditation. It's early to bed since breakfast is served early at 5am, followed by a morning hike in Shihmen mountain (石門山). After a rest at the Pilu Sacred Tree (碧綠神木) the day will continue with more silent, walking meditations around Taroko Gorge and ends with the evening concert, Big River.

The talks will be in Mandarin, but organizers stressed the retreat is open to the foreign community as well. Those who are interested can register by calling U Theatre at (02) 2938 8188 X 103. The cost is NT$2,460 and includes all meals and overnight guesthouse expenses, however, participants are responsible for finding their own way to and from the Taroko National Park Visitor Center (太魯閣國家公園管理處及遊客中心).

The Saturday evening performance is free and does not require advance reservation. The show begins at 6pm and a shuttle service will provide transportation between Hsincheng train station (新城火車站) and the Visitor Center from 2pm to 5pm and after the show from 7pm to 8pm.

If you fancy theater but don't feel like venturing too far from the air conditioner there are shows happening in Taipei city, including the launch of Assignment Theatre's 2005 Festival Season, Among the Forgotten. The festival opened last night and continues until Aug 20 offering a different production over four consecutive weekends. Assignment Theatre is known mostly for its political material, which focuses on social and political issues. It is the same troupe that brought a Soldier's Pay and the outdoor performance Taiwan's Faust to Taipei last year. Midnight Angel opens the festival and will be staged tonight and tomorrow.

All shows will begin at 7:30pm and will be staged at The Assignment Theater (差事小劇場) located at 9, Ln 18, Heping E Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市大安區和平東路二段18巷9-10號地下). Tickets cost NT$250 and are available at the door. For more information on the festival call (02) 2364 5124.

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