Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Nude scene arouses police interest in theater troupe

IS IT ART?Taipei City police videotaped the first two performances of the Sun Son Theater's new play amid widespread media reports of its five minutes of nudity

BY JEWEL HUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Sun Son Theater (身聲演繹社) was finally able to present its latest play, Circle of Love, without the presence of the police yesterday, after the first two performances were marred by police officers videotaping the shows.

The theater troupe opened its latest play on Wednesday at the Huashan Arts District.

According to artistic director Wu Jong-Liang (吳忠良), the play examines the unbalanced relations between male and female, or Yin and Yang, through dance and music, aiming to explore the various faces and stages of life.

What aroused the interest of police and prosecutors was widespread media reports that 10 minutes into the performance, the three actors and three actresses remove their clothes and dance in a circle for about five minutes.

The Taipei City Police Department's Chungcheng First Precinct began an investigation into whether the play was a pornographic performance after reading sensationalized stories in the local media, said actress Chien Chao-yi (簡昭宜), the play's producer.

"We felt so helpless and astounded when the police came into the theater without any advanced warning and insisted on taping the play," Chien said.

"The police acted as if we were doing something immoral. We have not been respected," she said.

The police launched an investigation because the theater group was suspected of "offending society's morals and decency," according to Taipei District Prosecutor Ho Chun-ying (何俊英).

"Because the police videotaped the whole performance on the first day, they do not need to attend the rest of the performances," Ho said.

The police action drew strong protests from the actors and Taipei City councilors.

Democratic Progressive Party City Councilor Lan Shih-tsung (藍世聰) said the Taipei City Government blundered through a lack of communication.

"It is ironic that the city police cracked down on a show that has been approved and subsidized by the city's Cultural Affairs Bureau," Lan said.

The city councilor said that the police "made too much of a fuss" over the play.

City councilors have blamed Taipei Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Liao Hsien-hao (廖咸浩) for reacting too slowly to the police interference with the show.

Liao said he was sorry about the police action and was confused about their motivation.

"The police might not understand the content and connotations of the performing arts. It is easy to identify whether the play is art or pornography from the performers and the location," Liao said.

"We have suggested the police consult with us before taking action next time," Liao said.

Liao admitted, however, that the bureau has difficulty grasping the details of every performance under its auspices but said that it did not want to intervene in every cultural activity.

"We endeavor to protect artists' freedom to create. This won't happen in the future," Liao said.

The Sun Son Theater is a well-regarded experimental-theater troupe. It received a NT$150,000 subsidy from Taipei's cultural bureau and NT$250,000 from the National Culture and Arts Foundation for Circle of Love.

The troupe was also selected to appear at the Asia Pacific Little Theater Festival, starting this weekend.

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