Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - Page 13 News List

The arts, from kid-friendly to fringe

Fans of theater, dance and performance art are in for a treat with this summer’s trifecta of festivals

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER


With the commencement of the summer holidays, the Taipei Children’s Art Festival (台北兒童藝術節), which opened last week, is providing a remarkable range of entertainment for the young and young at heart. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this event has proven enormously popular once again, performing to full houses throughout its first week. The official program runs until Aug. 2.

Adults can indulge their artistic proclivities with the outstanding program that makes up the Taipei Arts Festival (台北藝術節), which opens on Aug. 12 and runs through to Sept. 6. Tickets are already selling fast, and several shows are booked out. The festival prides itself on bringing cutting-edge international performances to Taipei, but if the program feels too mainstream, an alternative is the mayhem of the Taipei Fringe Festival (台北藝穗節), which opens on Aug. 29 and runs until Sept. 13. As many of the shows will be in small venues, tickets for popular acts are likely to go fast.

The second Taipei Fringe Festival was officially launched earlier this week at an event at which 60 of the 80 participating groups each presented a 30-second sketch of their shows. As the policy of the fringe festival is to admit all comers, the quality was necessarily uneven, ranging from the polished to the inept. A knife-juggling act almost led to a press photographer being impaled by an errant blade.

The styles of performance are equally varied, ranging from serious experimental theater to schoolroom sketches, from folk dance groups to break dance teams, from the stridently political to the humorous and even risque. There is belly dancing, flamenco and Punjabi dance. There is something for everyone.


WHAT: Taipei Fringe Festival (台北藝穗節)

WHEN: Aug. 29 until Sept. 13


WHAT: Taipei Children’s Art Festival


WHEN: Now until Aug. 2


WHAT: Taipei Arts Festival (台北藝術節)

WHEN: Aug. 12 until Sept. 6


The total of 246 performances will be scattered over 14 venues, and artistic director Wang Wen-yi (王文儀) of the Taipei Culture Foundation (台北市文化基金會) said that this was an opportunity not just to nurture performance groups, but also to develop alternative art spaces, so in addition to well-known locations such as Guling Street Theater (牯嶺街小劇場) and Taipei Artists Village (台北國際藝術村), venues like Paris Night Club (夜巴黎大舞廳) in Ximending, normally associated with performance of a totally different kind, have agreed to open their doors for the festival.

While there was probably more enthusiasm than talent on display at the official launch event, Taipei Fringe is an opportunity for smaller performance groups or individual artists to go before the public. Wang said that a new departure this year is the inclusion of a critic’s corner with its headquarters at the South Village (南村落) cafe off Shida Road (師大路), where reviews by professional critics and comments by audiences can be posted.

But before the free-for-all of the fringe, there will be the remainder of the Taipei Children’s Art Festival and the Taipei Arts Festival, both also organized by the Taipei Culture Foundation. The former is in its 10th year, the latter in its 11th, and both events already have an established following.

This year’s Children’s Art Festival is in particularly celebratory form, having, said Carrie Kao (高筱嘉), the marketing manager for the Taipei Culture Foundation, greatly expanded the opportunities for children to appreciate and engage in performance art.

While most of the festival’s paid performances are already sold out, this year’s festival includes an extensive program of free community performances.

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