Big show for little kids

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Page 12

The Starry Garden (銀河.魔豆.星花園) is the 24th original production by the children’s theater company IfKids (如果兒童劇團), and builds on a foundation of expertise in creating elaborate shows with plenty of color, music and dance, as well as a moral lesson, that are fun for the whole family. In addition, The Starry Garden includes an aerial show in which performers hover above the stage, performing spectacular acrobatics as part of the story, taking children’s theater to a whole new level.

The story of The Starry Garden is set on another planet where two tribes, one terrestrial and the other airborne, battle continuously over limited resources. Although the setting is fantastical, the issues of war and peace, of sharing, and of the environment are all raised, ensuring that children come away from the show with more than just a smile on their faces.

“The show lets children consider why conflict can arise between people, and also how conflict, when it arises, can be resolved in a wise way,” said the show’s director, Francis Shen (沈斻) said.

“We hope that after children have watched the show, they will be able to think about these issues in their own way, and find their own answers.”

IfKids regularly brings in top class talent to give its shows a uniquely professional touch. Shen himself has a huge reputation in China as a theatrical innovator and was the designer of the Window of the City element of the Shanghai Expo in 2010. The show’s musical director Erik Ubels brings his expertise of writing music for cinema, and Wang Yi-sheng (王奕盛), who has directed the multimedia for some of Taiwan’s most demanding theater groups, including many productions for Cloud Gate (雲門舞集), provides state-of-the-art multimedia.

The special attraction for The Starry Garden is the aerial show, which IfKids’ PR staffer Ruby Tu (杜晏汝) said was the first of its kind in Taiwan.

“The cast had to work really hard in order to manage to fly gracefully, do somersaults and speak their lines while suspended above the stage.”

The Starry Garden has plenty of spectacle and a positive social message. IfKids founder, comedian, actor, TV show host and playwright Chao Tzu-chiang (趙自強), said that the aim of this production, as with all of IfKids’ productions, was to use a fun medium, but still have an educational purpose. In the case of The Starry Garden, the moral is simple: Helping each other is better than fighting each other, and peace is a precious thing that should be cherished.

Following its Taipei performances, The Starry Garden will tour Kaohsiung, Hsinchu and Taoyuan through December.