New Ideas Theater Festival (新點子戲展) continues with its theme of experimentation this weekend when Tainaner Ensemble (台南人劇團) updates The Tale of the White Snake (白蛇傳), a classic Chinese story, with a Taiwanese-language adaptation called White Snake (白水) at the CKS Cultural Center's Experimental Theater (實驗劇場).
Tainaner Ensemble unites both physical and text-based theater and has been instrumental in pioneering a distinctive performance style called "the score of voice and body," — a style that can be seen as taking elements from both traditional and contemporary theater.
With recent productions of Western classics such as Antigone, Macbeth, Endgame and Lysistrata, Tainaner Ensemble has become one of Taiwan's most well-known troupes for exploring the possibilities of adapting Western canonical works into "Minnanyu," or Taiwanese. With White Snake the ensemble has put aside its Western sources in favor of a Chinese love story.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NTCH
White Snake tells the story of a white snake who, curious about the lives of humans, transforms herself into a beautiful girl and becomes apart of the human world. She then falls in love with a young scholar, who returns her love. The couple eventually marries and all is going well until a monk discovers the snake hiding behind the mask of the woman and eventually exposes her true identity to the young man. The white snake then transforms back into her former shape which scares her husband so much that he dies of shock.
The script is adapted from Taiwanese playwright Tian Chi-yuan's (田啟元) White Tide, which caused a sensation when it was first performed, because instead of having the white snake played by a woman, her character — and all the characters on stage — were played by men, the purpose of which was to allow Tian to explore themes of homosexuality. Though the current production doesn't deal with issues of sexuality, it does retain the vibrant Taiwanese of Tian's original.
The director of the production, Lu Po-shen (呂柏伸), updates Tian's original production by infusing it with songs to help move the narrative forward. "It's more like a song production. I asked a composer to write 14 songs — but [Tian's] words are our lyrics as well," said Lu. The addition of a chorus consisting of seven singers provides different voices to the work. But Lu is quick to point out that the performance is not a musical. "The original language used in the play lends itself to music, which is why we chose to adapt it to song," he said.
And it is Tian's language that Lu is most excited about presenting to Taipei audiences because it is both unique stylistically and most readily compliments the western works that his ensemble is so interested in staging.
What: New Idea Theater (新點子戲展): White Snake (白水)
Where: National Experimental Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場)
When: Today and tomorrow at 7:30pm, tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm
Tickets: All Taipei performances are NT$400 and tickets are available through NTCH ticketing
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
The Lunar New Year vacation had just ended when Alice Wu began to worry about COVID-19. Not long after, on Feb. 10, Wu — who didn’t give her Chinese name to speak freely for this story — received the first of several coronavirus-related sales messages through her smartphone. The pitch came from an acquaintance who represents Amway, an American multi-level marketing (MLM) company that’s been active in Taiwan since 1982. “I’ve only met her once, and I’ve never bought from her. If her sister wasn’t one of my daughter’s teachers, I’d probably block her,” says Wu, who lives in Taichung. MLM, sometimes
It’s difficult to watch Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, a four-hour Netflix series on the now-deceased convicted sex offender without a choking sense of outrage. How many girls had to suffer to get attention? How perversely twisted is the American justice system that a Gatsby-esque billionaire, friends with such powerful figures as Bill Clinton , Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, a longstanding donor to Harvard and MIT, could buy his way out of an almost certain life sentence for child sex abuse and trafficking? Filthy Rich arrives, of course, less than a year after Epstein, 66, died, officially by suicide, in a New