Chen Wu-kang (陳武康) and Su Wei-chia (蘇威嘉), two of the cofounders of the all-male dance collective Horse (驫舞劇場), have known each other for 15 years. They probably thought they knew each as well as could be — until they teamed up with Hong Kong director Edward Lam (林奕華) to stage Horse’s spring production, Relationship Between Two Men (兩男關係), at the Experimental Theater in Taipei.
The hour-long show, a mix of theatre and a dance duet, explores emotions, friendship, sexuality and power.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Chen compared the creative process of working with Lam to going into psychotherapy.
“We’ve known him a long time and have been looking for a way to work together ... The first thing he asked us was ‘Can you two kiss each other?’ — but in the end we don’t kiss,” Chen said. “Wei-chia and I know each other so well — 15 years — we’re on the same wavelength, but he [Lam] kept asking so many questions. It felt like a couple going to a psychiatrist — sometimes we went together, sometimes separately, which created some suspicion.”
They worked on the show for about five months, both in Hong Kong and Taipei, he said, adding: “I was so ready to dance after all the talking.”
Lam thought the show should be just about the two friends, Chen said, though he worries that “some people may think it’s a bit masturbatory or narcissist.”
“I’ve never tried this before — being me [on stage] — it’s so real, so just the two of us. Sometimes I’m me, sometimes I’m him; I have to keep saying my name, like ‘Wu-kang’s family’ or ‘Wu-kang this,’” Chen said. “In the beginning I was worried where all this talk would lead to — but in the end it leads to dance.”
What: Relationship Between Two Men
When: Today at 7:30pm and tomorrow at 2:30pm, April 26 to April 28 at 7:30pm and April 29 at 2:30pm
Where: Experimental Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)
Admission: Tickets are NT$600, available at NTCH box office or online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
Additional Performances: May 25 and May 26 at 7:30pm and May 27 at 2:30pm at Wei Wu Ying Center for the Arts (高雄縣衛武營藝術文化中心籌備處), 449-1 Nanjing Rd, Fengshan Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市鳳山區南京路449-1號). Tickets are NT$400, available online at www.artsticket.com.tw and 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
Asked if such a deeply personal creative process had had an impact on him and Su, Chen said it had.
“I’ve learned a lot about him [Su]. It feels like the journey I took around Taiwan — Taiwan is much more complex than you think,” he said. “I’ve started taking more time to wait, wait until the silence has passed by. Before if there was a silence I would just say ‘fuck’ or start to smoke a cigarette. Now I wait.”
In addition to the shows in Taipei this weekend and next, there will be three shows in Kaohsiung next month.