Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Farewell at 30

The River-gauche Theater Group celebrates its 30th birthday with a series of performances, forums and film screenings

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Scenes from Shimmery the Stars, (2011).

Photo Courtesy of Hsu Pin

It was 1990 and Taiwanese society was undergoing an intense phase of democratic development amid surging social and political forces after the end of Martial Law. The Wild Lily Student Movement (野百合學運) saw thousands of students gathering in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to demand the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government advance political reforms.

Fast-forward to Taipei Dignity (台北尊嚴), an artist’s salon open to artistic and creative endeavors, stage director Miguel Li (黎煥雄) developed a performance which reflects on the relationship between politics, social movements, theater and art.

“We were usually on the periphery of social movements. But from time to time, we got sucked into it,” recalls Li of the River-gauche Theater Group (河左岸劇團).

The production later came to be known as Shimmery the Stars 1991 (星之暗湧1991) and was restaged again by Li in 2000 and 2011. The latest version will open tonight at the Fruit Wine Building in Huashan 1914 Creative Park as part of the troupe’s 30th anniversary celebration.

It is also Li’s last production with River-gauche, which the director co-founded in 1985 when he was a student at Taipei’s Tamkang University.

Now the director of Mr. Wing Theater Company (人力飛行劇團), Li has returned to River-gauche every now and then to produce works because of the troupe’s “purity.”

Shimmery the Stars, having been inspired by a group of real-life Taiwanese anarchists who advocated drastic methods such as assassinations and terrorist acts against the Japanese colonial government, is a curious choice. Although it might resonate with Sunflower movement advocates, one can’t help but wonder how the work can be updated to address contemporary issues.

Performance Notes

What: Shimmery the Stars, 2014 (星之暗湧2014)

When: Tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30pm, Monday and Thursday at 8pm, Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 at 7:30pm

Where: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Fruit Wine Building 2F (果酒禮堂2樓) 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)

Admission: NT$650, available at NTCH box offices and online through

But Li believes Shimmery the Stars doesn’t need to change with time. For him, it tackles timeless themes of fighting against oppression.

“[The] work isn’t an attempt to make a political statement or identify with a particular political belief … It simply wants to conjure up the spirit of the 1920s, which has never disappeared,” the director says.

A main force behind the experimental theater movement in the 1980s, River-gauche became known for its literary approach and poetic aesthetics, but has been less active for the past decade as its core members have gone their separate ways, forming new theater groups or venturing into different creative territories.

Apart from the performances, several of River-gauche’s founding members as well as theater veterans including Wang Mo-lin (王墨林), Angelika Wang (王耿瑜) and Cho Ming (卓明) will hold forums tomorrow and on Sunday. Documentaries of the troupe’ oeuvre will be shown this and next weekend. Both film screenings and forums take place at the Fruit Wine Building. Admission is free.

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