The National Theater Concert Hall (NTCH) has pulled together an eclectic program of 22 productions, with a total of 68 shows, for this year’s Taiwan International Festival of Arts, grouped under the theme Unlimited Classics Around the Globe.
The eight theater pieces, six dance shows and eight concerts or recitals feature homegrown troupes such as Tang Mai Yun Taiwanese Opera Company (唐美雲歌仔戲團), ? Q Theatre (二分之一Q劇場), WCDance (林文中舞團), Dance Forum Taipei (舞蹈空間) and the National Symphony Orchestra (國家交響樂團) and acclaimed companies such as Cheek by Jowl from the UK, the Switzerland-based Compania Finzi Pasca, Ballet Flamenco Eva Yerbabuena from Spain and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt as well as renowned Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian. In all, 22 countries will be represented.
There seems to be at least one show with something to appeal to everyone, whether you are a fan of Taiwanese folk singer and activist Kimbo (胡德夫), who is at the Concert Hall on Feb. 21 or a classical music lover — be it Chinese, Indian or Western — there is When Bianzhong Meets Organ (當編鐘遇上管風琴) on Feb. 28, The Music of India (來自印度的天籟) on March 22 and A Musical Feast (英倫盛宴) by National Symphony Orchestra (國家交響樂團) on March 28.
There are modern dance collaborations, a Kun opera/installation piece, Taiwanese puppet theater and a circus-style show that pays homage to Russian writer Anton Chekhov — Finzi Pasca’s DONKA — A Letter to Chekhov (華麗夢境 — 給契訶夫的一封信) at the National Theater from March 14 to March 16.
Given that the NTCH’s marketing team began promoting the festival even before tickets went on sale in November last year, plus the fame of some performers and the uniqueness of the productions, a few shows have already sold out. These include a NTCH commissioned play based on author Kenneth Pai’s (白先勇) 1983 novel Crystal Boys (孽子); calligrapher Grace Tong’s (董陽孜) collaboration with choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava and five other artists, Sao (騷); Josef Najd and CCn d’Orleans’ Woyzeck, ou l’ebauche du vertige (伍采克); and Y2D Production and Chameleon Production’s Leo (李奧先生幻想曲).
That tickets for the last three went so fast is no surprise; they are all being staged in the small Experimental Theater, which seats about 150 to 200 people depending on the staging configurations.
However, Crystal Boys selling out the National Theater so quickly is a tribute to both to Pai and director Tsao Jui-yuan (曹瑞原) and his cast. The show looks like it will be the NTCH’s most successful special TIFA commission to date.
If you missed buying a ticket for Leo, you still have a chance to see the show, although you have to go to Chiayi. The show will be at the Chiayi Performing Arts Center on March 18; tickets are just NT$400.
Ticket prices range from NT$500 up to NT$6,000 depending on whether the show is in the main halls or the two smaller venues and whether it is a homegrown production or an import. Seats are going quickly for several other productions, such as Yerbabuena’s Lluvia at the National Theater from March 28 to March 30 — there are only a few tickets left in the NT$500 (student) and NT$700 ranges.
Le Theatre de Aimer’s Les Ecorches (愛情剖面) is a play based on two other plays: French playwright Pierre de Marivaux’s Disputes (1744) and Brition Sarah Kane’s 1998 Crave. Though written more than 250 years apart, they both focus on the essence of cruelty in life. The 60-minute-long Les Ecorches will be performed in Mandarin at the Experimental Theater from Feb. 28 to March 2. Tickets are NT$600 and the Saturday matinee is sold out.