Tuan Hui-min (段惠民) came across Wheat Wave Chorus (麥浪歌詠隊) while rummaging through bookshelves for something to read.
The oft-neglected story about a club founded in 1946 by students from National Taiwan University (台大, Taida) and National Taiwan Normal University (師大, Shida) immediately caught the veteran theater activist’s eye. A few months later, Choirs for Tomorrow (無路可退), Taiwan Haibizi’s (台灣海筆子) latest play, began to take shape.
“Wheat Wave Chorus consisted of Taida students arriving from China and Taiwanese students from Shida. They toured southern and central Taiwan, introducing Chinese folk songs to locals and picking up Taiwanese ballads. They were Chinese and Taiwanese who wished to break boundaries and foster mutual understanding,” said Tuan, who co-directs the play with Lin Hsin-i (林欣怡).
For the past 10 years, Taiwan Haibizi has worked in close collaboration with Japanese director and playwright Sakurai Daizo, the foremost advocate of tent-theater, a type of left-wing theater that originated in Japan in the late 1960s, a time of social unrest.
“Ten years ago when I first came to Taiwan, the relationship between the two countries [Taiwan and Japan] was post-colonial. Taiwan has entered a new phase. It is forming its viewpoints about its history and future and its relations to China, Asia and the rest of the world,” said Daizo, who now spends much of his time promoting political theater in China.
The play begins with the death of a homeless man named Lao Fei (老廢). His hobo friend A-Q (阿Q) discovers that, 60 years previously, Lao Fei was a Chinese student named Hung Shan (紅善) who was a member of Wheat Wave Chorus.
WHAT: Choirs for Tomorrow (無路可退)
WHEN: Tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30pm
WHERE: Fuhe Riverside Park (永和市福和河濱公園) in Yonghe, Taipei County
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$400 in advance and NT$450 at the door. A limited number remain for tonight’s performance. Call 0922-606-094
ON THE NET: blog.roodo.com/taiwanhaibizi
The group members’ ideals and dreams were crushed by the April 6 Incident (四六事件), when police raided the two universities. The event, which occurred in 1949, is often viewed as the beginning of the White Terror era.
“Sixty years later, we’ve lost faith and a spiritual birthplace to return to. We have to keep our eyes wide open because there is no clear path either in front or behind,” Tuan said.
Located in a parking lot adjacent to the weekend flower market at Fuhe Riverside Park in Yonghe (永和) and built by volunteers, the play’s venue is a two-story tent that contains a stage and seating. Detailed directions can be found online at blog.roodo.com/taiwanhaibizi.