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.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Performing Arts Center
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.
Photo courtesy of circus PS
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.
Photo courtesy of Our
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).
Photo courtesy of Gabby So
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.
This year the organizers chose to have the tickets sold through the www.artsticket.com.tw Web site instead of leaving it up to the individual performers and groups to decide how and where they wanted to sell tickets. That means that tickets can also be bought at Eslite ticket desks and convenience store ticketing kiosks by accessing the artsticket.com site.
The festival has a good Web site, with Mandarin and English links (www.fringefestival.taipei/index.aspx).
Since it is almost impossible to see everything on offer, and there is always the fear of missing out on something great, for the second year there will be an “Instant Fringe Encores” program featuring the works of Fringe Award winners.
The winners will be announced on Sept. 14, and on Oct. 4, the names of the five encore programs will be announced.
The encore programs are scheduled to run from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10 at the Bopiliao Historic Block and Wellspring Theatre. Information on the shows will be posted on the festival’s Web site on Oct. 4.
If this all sounds like too much: Too many shows, too many choices, too much information to process, don’t worry, organizers have thought about this as well.
The two Wednesdays in this year’s Fringe were designated as “Stress-Free Wednesday,” with workshops (NT$399) by Herbartist (賣艸人家) and LSY (林三益).
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
For more than a century, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has been connecting the north and south of the nation. Between 1912 and 1926, the rail network was expanded to the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung. Even though the number of people living in Taiwan has grown massively — it has more than tripled since World War II — a combination of population outflow in certain places, and a greater range of transportation options, has led to the closure of several TRA stations. One of the most-visited retired stations is in, and named for, Kaohsiung’s Cishan District (旗山). Until the late
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there
It’s difficult to watch Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, a four-hour Netflix series on the now-deceased convicted sex offender without a choking sense of outrage. How many girls had to suffer to get attention? How perversely twisted is the American justice system that a Gatsby-esque billionaire, friends with such powerful figures as Bill Clinton , Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, a longstanding donor to Harvard and MIT, could buy his way out of an almost certain life sentence for child sex abuse and trafficking? Filthy Rich arrives, of course, less than a year after Epstein, 66, died, officially by suicide, in a New