Harry Potter, modern dance and Shakespeare are among the high points of this year’s Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival (高雄春天藝術節). Now in its fifth year, the annual event poses itself as southern Taiwan’s cultural extravaganza, outfitted with an extended lineup of 33 productions from 14 countries spread out across four sites over the course of six months.
For Wu Cheng-ting (吳正婷), director of the city’s Performing Arts Development Center, the festival’s main organizer, however, size doesn’t matter. What is important is to foster and cultivate audiences by presenting a comprehensive arts festival catering to all ages and tastes.
“We want to interest more people in the arts, but it can’t be achieved overnight. It takes many small steps to develop a new habit. The good news is that we have seen the number of festivalgoers increase by 15 percent to 20 percent each year,” Wu told the Taipei Times.
The festival begins tomorrow with a free concert performed in a meadow near the lake at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (高雄市立美術館). Two more outdoor concerts will follow next month, one of which is a tribute in sound to Tim Burton’s cinematic oeuvre through soundtracks created by award-winning composer Danny Elfman. The other concert, dubbed Hollywood in Kaohsiung — Magic Moments (哈利波特好萊塢十大魔幻電影音樂會), presents music from Hollywood classics such as Harry Potter, E.T., Back to the Future and Jurassic Park.
Nic Raine and Ted Sperling will take turns conducting the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra (高雄市交響樂團), and will be accompanied by the Kaohsiung Chamber Choir (高雄市內合唱團). The musical shows by the lake present a perfect excuse to have a spring picnic with family and friends in the meadow while revisiting their favorite clips and songs.
What: 2014 Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival (高雄春天藝術節)
When: Tomorrow through July 6
Where: Kaohsiung Cultural Center’s Chihteh Hall (高雄市立文化中心至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市五福一路67號), Da-Dong Cultural Center (大東文化藝術中心), 161 Guangyuan Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市光遠路161號), Lakeside grassland of Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (高雄市立美術館), 80 Meishuguan Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市美術館路80號) and Kaohsiung Experimental Theater (高雄正港小劇場), 99, Penglai Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市蓬萊路99號)
Tickets: Available online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at 7-Eleven ibon, FamilyMart (全家) FamiPort and Hi-Life (萊爾富) Life-ET kiosks
On the Net: www.ksaf.com.tw
Modern dance enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn that American choreographer and theater director Bill T. Jones and his dance company will arrive in April with Story/Time, Jones’ latest work which sees the 62-year-old maestro return to the stage, reading a series of autobiographical stories at a desk, as dancers move around him. Growing up black and gay in 1950s America, Jones has become known for his provocative choreographies that combine art with social and political concerns.
As 2014 marks the 450th year of Shakespeare’s baptism, local theater-goers are treated with Dunsinane, a sequel to the English playwright’s Macbeth that begins with the English army taking the seat of power and attempting to restore peace and order in a riven Scotland. Premiered in London in 2010, the production is a collaboration between the National Theater of Scotland and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Other theatrical highlights include Rosie Rose, a family-friendly contemporary circus performance by La Compagnie Opopop from France, and German theater company Familie Floz’s Hotel Paradiso, which uses masks, mime and physical comedy to tell a blackly comic mystery surrounding a small, family-run hotel.
For those with a soft spot for Taiwanese gezai opera (歌仔戲), this year’s lineup features Duan Xiu (斷袖), a work about gay love by Yi Shin Taiwanese Opera Troupe (一心戲劇團), as well as heavy-weight Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company’s (唐美雲歌仔戲團) latest production, I See You, Mr. Fox (狐公子).
In addition to the performances, a series of free lectures and discussions will be held by artists, critics and academics on various topics that range from Shakespeare’s plays to the art of bangzi opera, otherwise known as Henan opera or yu opera (豫劇).