Thu, Aug 29, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Experience life on the edges

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Performing Arts Center Director Austin Wang, center in hat, poses with some of the artists who will be taking part in the Taipei Fringe Festival at a news conference in Taipei on July 2.

Photo courtesy of the Taipei Performing Arts Center

The 12th Taipei Fringe Festival (台北藝穗節), which opened on Saturday last week, is a testament to enthusiasm and endurance on the part of the organizers, the artists and audiences.

Inspired by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, which just wrapped its 72nd year, and the OFF Avignon Festival in France, which began in 1967, the Taipei Fringe is about alternative offerings to the annual Taipei Arts Festival (TAF). Like its counterparts, the Taipei Fringe schedule runs somewhat concurrently with the longer TAF, but includes a much wider variety of programming and venues.

While the Taipei Fringe cannot compare — yet — with its European counterparts in terms of size or international scope, it is not doing too badly.

Running through Sept. 8, this year’s fringe encompasses 128 programs, 131 local and international groups and artists, 34 venues, and a total of 532 shows or events. Morning, afternoon and evening, there is something going on, be it music, theater, dance, comedy/cabaret, free workshops or that undefinable category known as “other.”

On average there are more than two dozen events per day: There are 38 shows on the schedule for today, tomorrow there are 35.

For the performers and artists who want to be in the fringe, the only qualification is being able to get your application in on time. It is as simple as that; no auditions, no selection committee or juried admissions process.

That means the performers can range from university drama or dance clubs to professionals wanting to showcase a new work or a solo project.

“Taipei still provides artistic freedom and a platform where applications are neither judged nor rejected,” Taipei Performing Arts Center Director Austin Wang (王孟超), told a news conference on July 2.

The venues are equally disparate, ranging from the Nandou Theater, the Dadaocheng Theater, the Red House, the Bopiliao Historic Block and buildings at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park to the non-traditional sites such as temples, coffee shops, dance studios and art galleries in residential areas, even a yacht.

By spreading the venues out around the city, organizers hope audiences will be encouraged to explore the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

Organizers decided to continue an experiment they tried last year — offering a two-hour time-slot at one venue, which means the performers or groups have to set up, perform and pack up within two hours. This year’s venue is at the Bopiliao Historic Block.

Six performers/groups took up the challenge, including Hong Kong’s Gabby So (蘇子情), a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. So will stage her one-woman play about a spy in search of home, In Search of Last Name (流芳).

Tonight’s offerings include So’s show, Girl’s Notes II (少女須知 [中]), part of a series of feminist solo works about being a female/feminist by Su Pin-wen (蘇品文), a dancer and the artistic director of Kua Bo Dance Theatre (看嘸舞蹈劇場) who is often mistaken for a man because of her name; and Bedtime Stories About Morality (床邊故事:關於道德) by the theater collective Puzzle House (拼圖屋), a play about the choices one makes in life.

In addition, tomorrow and Friday next week will see “Film and Beer Friday,” with screenings of classic movies.

While there are many free events, ticket prices for the others range from a few hundred New Taiwan dollars to more than NT$1,000.

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