The National Taichung Theater’s annual “Fall for Great Souls” this year was programmed around three main themes: “Being,” “Soul” and “Core,” featuring an intriguing mix of imported and local productions.
However, due to the travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it lost three of the shows scheduled for December: the Belgian theater collective STAN’s production of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Le Fils du Grand Reseau Theatre Company’s Fishbowl and Theatre de l’Entrouvert’s Anywhere.
Those three made up the “Core” portion of the series, but even without that core, the remaining programs are an fascinating mix of new shows and revivals of some much loved works by Taiwanese artists and groups.
Photo courtesy of Hsu Pei-hung
The “Being” portion features works by four masters of their genres: famed opera singer and director Tseng Dau-hsiong’s (曾道雄) Fala double bill El Amor Brujo and La Vida Breve, which opened the series last weekend; a revival of the stage production of Kenneth Pai’s (白先勇) Crystal Boys (孽子); a revival of Legend Lin Dance Theatre (無垢舞蹈劇場) founder Lin Lee-chen’s (林麗珍) Anthem to the Fading Flowers (花神祭春芽); and South Korean pianist Paik Kun-woo, who will perform all 32 works in the Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle over the course of eight shows starting on Dec. 16.
The “Soul” segment features Wonderful (如此美好), a two-man play by NTT’s first artist-in-residence, playwright/actor Daniel Wang (王靖惇); the Taiwanese opera company Ming Hwa Yuan Arts & Cultural Group’s (明華園戲劇總團) classic The Khun Island (鯤鯓平卷); and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s (雲門舞集) new work by artistic director Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍), Sounding Light (定光).
The final “Soul” segment is the National Symphony Orchestra’s (國家交響樂團) staging of German director Andreas Homoki’s contemporary take on Puccini’s La Boheme at the end of December.
Photo courtesy of the National Taichung Theater
Photo courtesy of the National Taichung Theater
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Pai’s Crystal Boys, which was one the earliest literary works dealing with LGBT issues in Taiwan and is now widely recognized as a seminal work of Chinese gay literature.
It was adapted into a movie, a TV drama and, in 2014, a stage version commissioned by the National Theater Concert Hall opened that year’s Taiwan International Festival of the Arts, produced by the Creative Society (藝碩文創) and directed by Cao Ruei-yuan (曹瑞原), who had directed the television series.
Pai said that reviving the play this year was significant, given the government’s legalization of same-sex marriage in May last year.
The revival, which features an all-star cast drawn from theater, television, dance and pop music, had been set to open at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in March, but those shows were canceled when the government imposed audience number restrictions on theaters.
However, the easing of those restrictions in June meant the show could finally open in Kaohsiung last weekend, and then Taichung tomorrow for the first of two performances, before moving on to the National Theater in Taipei for three more shows starting on Oct. 16.
Crystal Boys, set in 1960s Taipei, follows the story of Li Qing (李青), who is expelled from school and ostracized by his father when he is discovered to be a homosexual.
Li starts hanging out at New Park (新公園) — now the 228 Peace Memorial Park (22八和平紀念公園) — and meets a variety of characters from Taipei’s gay subculture.
The story is about their father-son relationship, but also reflects the disparities and conflicts between two generations, and between social values and the individual.
The play runs three hours and 20 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission, and is performed in Mandarin and Taiwanese with Chinese surtitles.
It comes with an audience advisory that the program contains homosexual and adult themes, violence and partial nudity.
This story has been updated since it was first published.
WHAT: Crystal Boys
WHEN: Tomorrow and Saturday at 2:30pm
WHERE: The Grand Theater at the National Taichung Theater (台中國家歌劇院) 101, Huilai Rd Sec 2, Taichung City (台中市惠來路二段101)
ADMISSION: NT$400 to NT$3,000; available at NTT box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and convenience store kiosks
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: Oct. 16 at 7:30pm and Oct. 17 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號); remaining seats prices from NT$600 to NT$2,400, available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at convenience store ticketing kiosks
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