A play, titled Shiro Heroes, which was inspired by the Taiyuan Prison Incident (泰源事件), is to be staged at the Nan Hai Auditorium in Taipei this weekend, organizers said on Thursday.
The play, featuring interpretive dance and experimental music, is directed by Chang Min-chun (張閔淳) and was jointly commissioned by pro-localist groups, including the Lee Teng-hui Association for Democracy and the People’s News Foundation for Arts and Culture.
Shiro Heroes tells the story of six political prisoners who planned a revolution, the groups said.
The incident — considered an uprising by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, but an attempt at armed revolution by Taiwanese independence advocates — involved prison guards, inmates and young Aborigines who sought to take over the prison, a nearby radio station and Republic of China Navy ships stationed in Taitung, in the hope of sparking a nationwide revolution.
The six prisoners were captured in the weeks after the failed revolt. Five of them were executed, while Cheng Cheng-cheng (鄭正成) was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Parts of the play were performed at a promotional event on Thursday last week, including a scene in which the prisoners plan the revolution and an action scene with sirens blaring.
“Using history as an inspiration for art is commonplace, but in Taiwan, even talking in public about historical events is to court ostracism and accusations of polarizing society,” said New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐), previously the frontman of the heavy metal band Chthonic that composed a song titled Between Silence and Death (亡命關) inspired by the incident.
Art and history are needed to shape a national character for Taiwanese, Lee Teng-hui Association for Democracy executive director Hsu Lung-chun (許龍俊) said.
“A nation that does not have a historical consciousness is like an animal without a spine,” he said.
The pro-democracy activists in the incident tried to give voice to Taiwanese during the White Terror era through their actions, but their attempt was suppressed, said 228 Memorial Foundation chairman Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), who is a history professor at National Chengchi University.
“History should not be used as a tool to remember grievances, but rather as an impetus to move forward,” he said, adding that he hopes Taiwan can become a truly independent and sovereign nation.
Citing President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) election victory speech, World United Formosans for Independence chairman Chen Nan-tien (陳南天) said: “Tsai called for ‘humility, humility and more humility,’ but Taiwanese have been humble for four centuries; what we need is courage, courage and more courage.”
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