Broken electric fans, a lawnmower, a bedstead and a fuel tank — these are just some of the everyday objects, not to mention gadgets salvaged from junkyards, that come to life as penguins, a zebra, an octopus, a flamingo and other animals from around the world at Taipei’s Bopiliao Historical Block (剝皮寮歷史街區), as part of the Taipei Children’s Arts Festival (台北兒童藝術節).
Now in its 15th year, the annual event offers children and their parents a diverse lineup of theater, music, opera, puppetry acrobatics, exhibitions, film screenings and do-it-yourself workshops until Aug. 3 at a number of venues across the capital.
With this year’s focus on environmental protection and recycling, organizers want to expose young minds to different environmental issues and propose refreshing ways to look at limited natural resources and human-made waste.
The exhibition of installation art, for example, features works that make use of discarded items and stuff usually deemed as junk. From Catalunya, Spain, artist studio KataKrak helps to turn the exhibition space into a laugh-infested playground, bringing 26 colorful, interactive installation works of various sizes and in the shape of animals, which are composed of domestic appliances and mechanical parts.
Aiming to raise awareness of the importance of marine conservation, the Taiwan Environmental Information Association (台灣環境資訊協會) uses bottle caps collected by its members and volunteers during shoreline cleanup operations to piece together paintings and statuettes portraying marine animals.
Among the six paid international performances, 3-Legged Tale by Canada’s Theatre de l’OEil reveals life in a junkyward during changing seasons through the eyes of a three-legged camera that comes to life. The creative work shows the circle of life with all kinds of creatures.
What: Taipei Children’s Arts Festival 2014 (第十五屆台北兒童藝術節)
When: Through August 3
Where: Across Taipei
Admission: Tickets cost between NT$150 and NT$350, available through NTCH ticket outlets and www.artsticket.com.tw. Other activities are free of admission
On the net: www.taipeicaf.org
To encourage and support children’s theater productions and performances, each year the festival sends out a call for proposals. Winners are provided with funding for their productions. Starting last year, festival organizers no longer require troupes to submit finished scripts, but only project plans.
“This shift enables us to open up to much more diverse performances that are not script-based, such as music, dance and multi-media shows” says Liu Li-ting (劉麗婷), the associate executive director at Taipei Culture Foundation’s (台北市文化基金會) Department of Taipei Arts Festivals, which organizes the event.
The end results of last year’s change include O Theatre’s (O劇團) Nobody (墓園裡的男孩), which mixes live action, puppetry and 3D animation to tell the story of a little boy raised by a company of ghosts in a graveyard. HighSun Taiwanese Opera Troupe’s (海山戲館) Peacock (孔雀開屏) is a fun update of the traditional operative form designed for children aged three and up.
While the international performances are usually sold out within days, tickets for the local productions remain available. There is also an extensive program of free community performances and outdoor events that take place at various community centers, parks and schools across the city.
Highlights from the performance lineup for the community events include France-based company Anonima Teatro’s engrossing show in which puppets and toy cars are used to enact exhilarating car chase scenes from action movies. The performance by Spanish vaudeville duo Hermanos Infoncudibles will feature flamenco dance, music by Beethoven and a healthy dose of humor.