The venue is free, anyone who signs up can perform and artists get to keep box-office proceeds as revenue. It is no wonder that Taipei Fringe Festival (台北藝穗節) has gained popularity among young artists and increasingly become an important platform for new and experimental performance.
This year, with at least 543 shows by 130 groups from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, Russia and the UK that are spread over 35 venues, the seventh annual Taipei Fringe Festival is at its largest yet, encompassing a wide array of performances. Quality inevitably varies, from bad and tedious to eccentric, daring and imaginative, due to the festival’s open nature.
To theater director, producer and performer Lin Hsin-i (林欣怡), who starts her three-year tenure as the festival’s associate curator this year, the city-funded event is more than a free platform. It also has a special role to play in Taiwan’s theatrical scene.
“Since Taipei Fringe is a government event, and not an event created by artists, we have to take the question, ‘Why do we need the Fringe Festival?’ more seriously,” Lin points out.
“To me, the important thing is how to create a Fringe community developed for artists, by artists. It is something I hope I can help to achieve,” she says.
To engage artists more, the festival organizers will replace the yearly big opening pageant with several parades tomorrow between 2pm to 6pm. They will travel through all 35 festival venues, where artists and groups have been invited to perform and attract crowds.
Noted for having a wide variety of cafes, shops and art spaces, the Fringe is expanding this year by taking shows onto water. Comedy Club (卡米地喜劇俱樂部), among others, will stage an all-star standup comedy show on a commercial yacht, which can accommodate 50 people, moored at the Dadaocheng Wharf (大稻埕碼頭).
What: Taipei Fringe Festival
When: Tomorrow through Sept. 14
Where: 35 venues across the city
Admission: Tickets vary between NT$150 and NT$999 depending on performances, available at NTCH ticketing outlets, online through www.artsticket.com and at 7-Eleven ibon, FamilyMart (全家) FamiPort and Hi-Life (萊爾富) Life-ET kiosks
On the net: www.taipeifringe.org
Apart from the buoyant stage, a few relatively remote spots will provide an artistic getaway from the urban hubbub. Renovated from a 60-year-old house, Mountravel Studio (關渡山行巷弄劇場) is a multi-purpose venue built into the hill in Beitou District (北投).
Meanwhile, in Hushan (虎山), a mountain located in Taipei’s Houshanpi (後山埤) area, Miculture Foundation for Arts and Culture (微遠文化藝術基金會) will present a makeshift artists’ village at an abandoned temple, a collaborative project with a group of artists. On Sept. 6, party organizer Smoke Machine Taipei will team up with White Fungus (白木耳), an art project based in Greater Taichung, to hold an electronic party-cum-sound art event at the place, which begins at 3:30pm and lasts for five hours.
FESTIVAL WITHIN A FESTIVAL
In a new attempt to bring more diversity and possibilities to the Fringe, participating groups are now allowed to not only put on performances but create their own curated events.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, BDSM Company (皮繩愉虐邦) has put together a mini festival featuring bondage/domination and sadomasochism (BDSM) shows by bondage artists from Taiwan, Japan, Russia and the UK.
In another part of the city, Comedy Club has arranged several comedy nights with stand-up comedian Hiroshi Shimizu and multi-award winning mime artist Tezuka from Japan.
Among the broad variety of performances, Lin notices that many young artists have tried to reflect on and respond to Taiwan’s current sociopolitical climate.
“But they don’t directly address specific issues and events such as the occupation of the Legislative Yuan. Rather, they choose to tackle more abstract concepts like the essence of violence,” Lin adds.