What women want?

A new production stars leading thespians from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China to create a spectacular and touching picture of a woman’s world

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 24, 2013 - Page 12

One of the flagship productions of the 2013 Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival (高雄春天藝術節), Forever Dialogue (愛。時尚), premiered in Kaohsiung last week, and will now tour Taiwan. The show, which mixes an exuberant celebration of consumer culture and an intimate portrait of three Chinese women, has brought together a number of big names that guarantee appeal across the Strait.

Forever Dialogue stars Vega Tsai (蔡燦得), a popular presence on Taiwan’s stage and screen; Hong Kong’s Perry Chiu (焦媛), a veteran stage actress; and Chinese screen actress Cheryl Hsieh (謝承穎). At the center of the story is a pair of embroidered silk slippers, which link up a deconstructed tale that starts in 1940s Shanghai and extends to the modern day, following its main characters from the Republican era through to contemporary China, a period in which both the appearance of Chinese women, and the social milieu in which they exist, has changed out of all recognition.

Directed by Li Zongxi (李宗熹), who picked up the Kaohsiung Culture and Arts Award (高雄文藝獎) in 2012 and is a bright new star on the Chinese-language theater scene, Forever Dialogue is a big-budget production showcasing not just its three leading ladies, but also the talents of a top-notch behind-the-scenes team. Given that the show not only focuses on the emotions of three women, but also their material accoutrements, it is fitting that another star of the show is fashion designer Goji Lin (林國基).

“It is much more than just a piece of theater,” Lin said. “It is also more than a fashion show. I have designed over 10 sets of costumes specifically for this production, which are presented in a number of catwalk displays. There are fashion shows within the play, and the emotions of the play pervade the fashion show. It’s really an amazing experience, and the first time I have done anything like this in all my years as a designer. The performance, the language and the emotions in the play make the fashion items even more expressive.”

Set design is by Max Li (黎仕祺), who regularly manages the design for mega concerts by stars such as Judy Chiang (江蕙) and Jeff Chang (張信哲), and music is by the multi-award winning Cello Fan (范宗沛), who composed and won a Golden Melody Award for the Original Soundtrack of the hit TV series The Crystal Boys (孽子).

The fact that this show about women, which is supposedly targeted at women, has an almost exclusively male production team might give rise to snide suggestions that not much has really changed in the position of women in Chinese society, but the appeal of the three female stars and the general bling of the production is likely to drown out negative commentary.

By all accounts, the premiere last week in Kaohsiung was a great success, and will now be followed by this weekend’s show in Hsinchu, followed by Tainan, Taipei and Taichung. The show will then tour the region with bookings in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing. More information regarding the show and performance schedule can be found at www.performer.org.tw.