It is not your usual theatrical performance that takes place this week at an apartment in an old, residential neighborhood in Taipei’s Banciao District (板橋區). Audiences will be blindfolded with filmy cloth as they make their way through Fucking Brain with Murmur (他媽的大腦雜音), a 70-minute performance by The Post-Theater.
“The work is designed to encourage active participation of the audience as we want to challenge the conventional viewing relationship. We hope audiences can feel and experience the performance rather than watch it,” said Chiang Yuan-hsiang (江源祥), a member of The Post-Theater.
Formed a year ago by a dozen undergraduates in the department of drama at the National Taiwan University of Arts (國立台灣藝術大學, NTUA), the student theater group is conceived of as an artist community where all members are free to share, exchange, collaborate and “make things happen,” while taking turns to work as artists, PR or accountants so as to keep the troupe running. They also rent an old apartment as their “secret place” where they make, show and perform cross-boundary, non-traditional performances.
The process has proved productive. Fucking Brain with Murmur is the group’s third work in a year. It will be followed by an art festival next month that runs for three consecutive weekends.
Chiang said the performance is made up of several discordant segments, some of which are sober and serious, some fun and silly and some utterly bizarre.
“Feelings” and “individual experiences” are among the keywords for this week’s show. Audiences enter the theater space that, depending on availability, will be flanked by two naked men, or what Chiang calls “raw meat.” Once inside, participants will be blindfolded, after which the performers will spontaneously make bodily contact with them. From there, the audience can choose to create a painting, watch the show while lying on the floor or strip the costume from a performer.
“People rely too much on their eyes. We try to conjure up feelings through hearing and touch,” Chiang said.
Chiang said Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments inspired the work because it makes possible a way of reading that is “private and encourages readers to create their own systems and constructs.”
During the show, ambient noise will be recorded, manipulated and played back by sound artist Chen Chun-ren (陳俊任). Toward the end, audiences will be tied up together and covered by a piece of cloth dropped from the ceiling.
“We are looking forward to having crazy people come to the shows, not the well-behaved,” Chiang said.
Audiences that attend the midnight show tomorrow are welcome to sleepover. Organizers said there will be plenty of pillows and blankets and a workable bathroom. Seating is limited to 20 audience members per show.
Apart from art-making, members of the student theater group also look for ways to use their creativity to address social issues and facilitate social change. Along with other NTUA students, they’ve formed Art of Revolution (激社), a social media community, three months ago as part of the anti-media monopolization campaign organized by college students nationwide.
To Chiang, The Post-Theater, with its name that suggests a postmodern influence, and Art of Revolution can coexist in harmony, “even though postmodernism tells us that no matter how hard we try, everything will be absorbed and consumed eventually.”
“It is almost certain that we will lose, but we just keep doing what we are doing and make it fun and playful.”