Oscar Wilde once said he regarded “the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” It is with that sense of sharing the human experience that Taipei Players was founded in 2008 by two expatriate Canadians seeking an outlet for English-language theater in Taiwan.
This weekend in Taipei the group will be holding its fourth production, An Evening of Shorts III, comprised of four comedic shorts each between 10 and 30 minutes long.
For Brook Hall, who directs one of the shorts, there “was a gaping hole in the lack of contemporary theater in Taipei, especially for an English-speaking audience” before Taipei Players was founded. “My day job is working with various Taiwanese theater companies,” he said. “It’s hard enough to be a Taiwanese theater company in 2010, but there is no pre-conceived notion or path whatsoever for a foreigner-run operation.”
He credits Taipei Players founders Mandy Rovenda and Sarah Zittrer for being “unbelievably passionate about getting the word out, getting people motivated and finding what was necessary to launch the company last year.”
The piece he is directing, The Game, by Dennis Noble, was written in the 1970s and is “near and dear” to his heart. Hall saw the play when he was still in high school but doesn’t want to say too much about it: “I hope audiences get to experience the same thing I did when I first saw it,” he said. “There are certain plays that you will remember 24 hours, a week, maybe even a month later, and I think this is one of them.”
Another of the plays being shown, Room 69 by Bruce Ward, features actress Katie Partlow who has been studying for her MFA in acting at Taipei National University of the Arts (國立臺北藝術大學) since 2008. She has been in all of the Players’ previous shows and said that it “provides a different voice for the English-speaking community in Taiwan.”
In Room 69, which is based on a recovering homosexuals group meeting, she plays Doris, a woman having problems with her sexual identity. “She is driven by her anger, her passion and her internal fears,” said Partlow. “I can’t say that I have quite the amount of energy that Doris has, but I really admire her passion, even if it’s misplaced. It’s fun to play such an angry woman.”
Brandon Thompson, frontman for indie-rock group Sons of Homer, stars in the only monologue of the
night, Matt Mayerchak’s The Great Outdoors, in which the character pursues the woman of his dreams on
Actor Thomas van Niekerk narrates in The Wedding Story, by Julianne Homokay, which has Zittrer facing off against Ben Cunningham in a not-quite fairy-tale romance. The play itself is a comedy, but in rehearsal things got taken to another level when Niekerk flubbed the line “It was a real ego boost to have snagged up a hot stud 11 years younger than she,” and said instead “It was a real ego boost to have snagged up a hot 11-year-old stud,” to the chagrin and shocked laughter of the cast.
This is one of the charms of live theater — that it is not prerecorded, but raw, influenced by the moods of both cast and audience, by the talent and foibles of the actors and the response of those watching.
“Coming to see theater in general gives everyone involved a sense of being in the moment,” said Partlow. “You can’t download us and watch us later. You’re either there in the theater laughing hysterically or you’re not.”
WHAT: Taipei Players, An Evening of Shorts III
WHEN: Tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm
WHERE: Guling Street Avant-Garde Theatre (牯嶺街小劇場), 2, Ln 5, Guling St, Taipei City (台北市牯嶺街5巷2號)
ADMISSION: NT$300 in advance or NT$400 at the door
DETAILS: Advance tickets can be purchased from both Toasteria locations, at 2, Ln 248, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路四段248巷2號) or 1, Ln 72, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街72巷1號). The performances contain adult content and are not recommended for audiences younger than 16
ON THE NET: www.taipeiplayers.com
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