No matter how successful, beautiful and intelligent they may be, unwed women in Asia have to contend with derogatory stereotypes and epithets such as "Christmas cake," a reference to the cake Japanese eat on Dec. 25 and throw away on Dec. 26, and "New Year's Eve noodles," which refers to bachelorettes aged over 31.
At weddings they are matched up with potential partners by well-intentioned friends and at other family gatherings are questioned as to why they've remained single.
Yan Mei-chen (顏美珍), the creator and director of Flora, has been on the receiving end and feels that other single women can relate to her experience. The assumption that single women are always on the lookout for potential partners is one of many misperceptions that Yan addresses in her latest production being staged by Workshop in Heaven Theater (黑門山上的劇團) this weekend at the National Experimental Theater.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF WORKSHOP IN HEAVEN
"People living in the city have a particular image of women," said Blanca Chung (鍾欣怡), the production's promoter. It is an image, Chung says, that many women often feel uncomfortable with.
The play is directed to those 20- and 30-somethings who place career over relationships and the frustration often felt because they are expected to "get married, have a family [and] stay at home."
Yan, a career-minded women over 35, who is unwilling to compromise her freedom of creativity for a relationship, dispensed with words for her performance and focuses on gestures - movements that Chung says will speak to Taiwanese women.
"In European or American modern dance, they have different body language because of culture and history. And in Japan, there are even several different modern [styles of] dance within that culture," she said.
Chung said Yan drew inspiration from the work of respected European choreographer Pina Bausche.
However, whereas Bausche, who will perform in September at the National Theater, employs a combination of snippets of dialogue with action, the creators of Flora forgo dialogue altogether. Doing so, says Chung, enables the audience to become totally engrossed in the actors' movements.
Focusing on movement also has its practical purposes; it appeals to a wider audience.
"The last time we were in Bengal for a theater festival, we performed a play in Chinese that seemed to be lost on most of the audience," Blanca said.
The performance has separate plots; the first tells of a country girl who moves to the big city and matures through her experiences.
The second reveals the ways in which men pick up women and how the movement of men changes in the presence of women. The third investigates the relationship between a mother and daughter.
"Usually, a dance group finds dancers and [teaches] them how to act. But this time, because we are a theater group, we are teaching actors how to move," she said. "Our director is not a choreographer [but] a theater director."
To perfect the motions on the stage, Yan invited movement director Chou I-wen (邱怡文) and dancers from Cloud Gate Theater (雲門舞集) to help produce the play.
What: Flora (種一個女人)
Where: National Experimental Theater, Taipei
When: Today and tomorrow at 7:30pm and tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm
Tickets: NT$400 and are available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artstickets.com.tw
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
In the regular drumbeat of arrests of alleged Chinese spies, one case last month stood out. It did not involve the US or another rival of China, but Russia, whose security services accused a prominent arctic scientist of selling classified data on technologies for detecting submarines. Meanwhile a court in Kazakhstan in October convicted the Central Asia nation’s preeminent China specialist of espionage, a move widely interpreted at the time as a warning against increased meddling by the superpower next door. Both men maintain their innocence and if China is spying on Russia, Moscow is surely doing the same. Even so, the fact