Akiko Yosano’s Midaregami (Tangled Hair) caused a sensation when it was published early in the last century. Critics praised the Japanese poet’s deft lyricism while women lauded its feminine themes, leading one later reviewer to call her the Mary Wollstonecraft of Japan.
Local poet and filmmaker Hung Hung (鴻鴻) revives the work this weekend at Guling Street Theater (牯嶺街小劇場) and will direct Yosano’s words in a performance of music and acting. Billed as a shadow play, the show serves as the coda for this year’s Taipei Poetry Festival (臺北詩歌節).
“Tangled hair,” said Hung Hung, also the festival’s curator. “It’s a great image.”
In early 20th-century Japan the words “tangled hair” conjured up images of confusion, chaos and even madness. The phrase, however, is also an opaque reference to the state of a woman’s hair after making love — a sense of freedom that in Yosano’s deft hands grows to include the emancipation of women from a strict patriarchal society.
The “poetry performance,” as Hung Hung calls it, also incorporates poetry written by Hakka poet Tu-pan Fang-ko (杜潘芳格) who, similar to Yosano, explores female independence in traditional societies.
Hung Hung’s team of poets distilled Tu-pan’s work into a piece that seeks to preserve the lyricism of the original while adding musical and theatrical elements that visually highlight the original themes of “intimacy and [women’s] complicated external situations.”
The poetry for Midaregami is based on a script compiled and edited by local poet Hsia Hsia (夏夏) of Poetry in a Matchbox (火柴詩) fame and will be read by experimental theater actor Wu Kun-da (吳昆達). Two musicians will also perform live: accordion player Wang Yang-meng (王雁盟); and Wang Wen-hsuan (王文萱), who will play the samisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed lute used to play folk music) to complement the spoken poetry and shadow puppetry. The shadow puppets were created by shadow puppet director Shih Pei-yu (石佩玉) of the Flying Group Theater (飛人集社劇團).
Midaregami will be performed tonight at 7:30pm and 9pm, tomorrow at 3:30pm, 5pm and 6:30pm and Sunday at 4pm and 5:30pm at Guling Street Theater (牯嶺街小劇場), 2, Ln 5, Guling St, Taipei City (台北市牯嶺街5巷2號). NT$150 tickets are available through NTCH ticketing.
— NOAH BUCHAN
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
In his 1958 book, A Nation of Immigrants, then US senator from Massachusetts John F Kennedy wrote the following words: “Little is more extraordinary than the decision to migrate, little more extraordinary than the accumulation of emotions and thoughts which finally lead a family to say farewell to a community where it has lived for centuries, to abandon old ties and familiar landmarks, and to sail across dark seas to a strange land.” As an epithet, the book’s title is commonly associated with America and, in the face of the xenophobic rhetoric that has marked US President Donald Trump’s tenure,
It seems that even the filmmakers don’t know what happened in 49 Days (驚夢49天). After spending too much of the film building up the mystery and constantly introducing confusing elements, they wrap up the film in the last couple of minutes in the laziest way, with the protagonist actually uttering “nobody knows.” That is bloody annoying, having sat through over 90 minutes of disjointed and head-scratching storytelling. Billed as a horror flick featuring the chilling Taoist ritual of guanluoyin (觀落陰), or visiting hell, 49 Days was meant to scare the pants off viewers over Dragon Boat Festival weekend. Horror movies