Taipei Shorts Continues LAB’s Tradition

By Jerome Keating  /  Contributing reporter

Thu, Mar 21, 2019 - Page 14

Taiwan’s English-language theater took a big hit when Brook Hall closed LAB Space’s doors last year, but in true theater fashion, Taiwan’s thespians are determined that the show must go on.

As last year ended, Stew Glen and Infinity Key produced White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, and scheduled it that Hall could perform in this play, which was on his bucket list.

John Brownlie is taking the ball one step further with Taipei Shorts, six one-act plays, all written, directed and acted by local talent. Performances begin tomorrow in Taipei.

Shorts grew out of LAB’s “Cocoon,” a place where local writers and actors could experiment and critique new work, as well as LAB’s “24 hour challenge,” where plays had to be written, cast and performed in 24 hours.

Along with Deni Carson, Brownlie contacted the local Taipei Writers group for material. They got 10 scripts, which they narrowed down to the present six. Of these, Brownlie says: “We have two dark comedies, two comedies, a slice of life and a political satire.”

Anyone involved with theater knows the rush that comes from the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd, but there is more here.

First, there is a sense of mission. Veteran actor Charlie Storrar, who performed in several of LAB’s productions in 2016 and 2017, says that “[w]e are keeping the torch of English language theater burning.”

It is a sentiment echoed by another LAB veteran Sharon Landon. However, as one who stepped in to take on an extra role when someone dropped out, she also finds it “exciting to practice a chosen craft, pushing one’s own boundaries ... like life.”

For experienced voice actor, Brian Foden, it’s a chance to step before Taiwan’s audience. He took as many of Brook’s classes as he could, but because of travel or work was never able to try out. This time he’s there.

“I want to keep the spirit of expat theater alive, and finally apply the many insights and ‘aha moments’ of the craft I got from Brook’s classes,” he says.

This is Brownlie’s first time as producer. As one who participated in theater from an early age, he relishes how “performers and audience connect through movement and spoken word.”

Playwrights include Deni Carson, Barry Hall, Chris Lanning, Shashwati Talukdar, Christopher Dore and Rick Monday & Paul Despins.

Red Room provides the needed space to keep such performances going.