Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Life’s a battle — onstage and off

The ninth International Theatre Festival opens in Taipei this weekend with the first two of 10 productions about adversity and the struggle for survival. The festival will keep the National Theater and the Experimental Theater busy on most weekends through Dec. 1

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Peeping Tom’s production of Vader opens the International Theatre Festival at the National Theater in Taipei tomorrow night.

Photo courtesy of Oleg Degtiarov

Everyday life can be a struggle, whether on an individual level or nation-state, and many of the questions posed by the 10 productions in this year’s International Theatre Festival are ones that modern societies around the world are grappling with, even if the context of some of the plays is historical: aging populations, drug addition, eavesdropping, the scars of war and the quality of leadership.

The programmers at the National Theater Concert Hall (NTCH) say the game of life has become a battlefield, where security can be a trap, but art can be a weapon that can help audiences confront their realities.

The festival opens tomorrow with two shows, Vader (Father) by the Belgium-based Peeping Tom troupe on the main stage and The Nanyang Intelligence Bureau (南洋情報交換所) by Taiwan’s Oz Theatre Company (柳春春劇社) and Malaysian Au Sow-yee (區秀詒) upstairs in the Experimental Theater.

Vader, which premiered in 2014, was the first of a family trilogy that includes 2016’s Moeder (Mother) and will finish up with next year’s production Kind (Child).

The play is set in the visiting room of a nursing home for the elderly, where the memories — or hallucinations — of an old man threaten to turn the realities of daily life into fantasy or nightmare, as the gap between perception and reality among the other residents and the home’s staff mirror the decay in the bodies and minds.

The show runs about 90 minutes, with no intermission, and will be performed in English, with Chinese surtitles.

The Nanyang Intelligence Bureau is the tale of a secret agent, crafted from excerpts of mythologies, historical texts, journals, novels, Malay poetry and other sources, a story that travels through time from the 1930s. Every movement could be a clue, every sound a code, as Au explores the relationship between physical body and movement.

Performance Notes

WHAT: Vadar

WHEN: Tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm

WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: NT$570 to NT$2,500, available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at convenience store ticketing kiosks

WHAT: Nanyang Intelligence Bureau

WHEN: Tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm

WHERE: Experimental Theater (國家實驗劇場), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$600, available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com and convenience store ticket kiosks


The program, which will be performed in a variety of languages, with Chinese surtitles, is about 75 minutes long. It comes with an advisory that there will be strong lighting and sound effects.

Of the other eight programs in the festival, two are already sold out: The Ventriloquists Convention, written by Dennis Cooper and directed by French-Austrian artist Gisele Vienne, and The Dress (瑪莉皇后的禮服), a story inspired by the biographies of Japanese “comfort women,” by NTCH artist-in-residence, Inred Liang (梁允睿), and the Red Theatre Group (紅潮劇集).

God Knows (神農氏), a 120-minute long exploration of the pain of life and drug addiction by playwright Birdy Fong (馮勃棣) and Baboo, the director-in-residence of Shakespeare’s Wild Sisters Group (莎士比亞的妹妹們的劇團), will take to the main stage for three shows starting on Oct. 12.

The same weekend will see Later (再約), a production by Our Theater (阮劇團) and Lee Ming-chen (李銘宸) at the Experimental Theater.

Written by Chen Hung-yang (陳弘洋), Later grew out of Our Theatre’s “The Farm of Plays” project in 2015. It examines relationships in today’s world, where television, the Internet and social media battle for our attention.

On Nov. 2 the NTCH’s flagship production of Theodoros Terzopoulos’ Yerma opens on the main stage.

This show is Terzopoulos second international collaboration on Spanish author and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1934 play about a woman who cannot conceive and how that defines her life and the choices she makes.

Yerma, along with Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba, make up Lorca’s trilogy about women’s struggles with life and death.

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