Cultural development of cities explored at Taipei Arts Festival

The past, present and future of cities within the context of cultural development is the subject of a series of emotive and thought-provoking performances by artists from Taiwan and countries such as France, Germany, Japan, Portugal and the U.S. during the Aug. 7 to Sept. 17 Taipei Arts Festival.

Co-organized by Taipei City Government's Department of Cultural Affairs and Taipei Cultural Foundation, the event comprises a multimedia exhibition and 11 programs of dance, music and theater. It is being staged at venues across the city like Da-an Forest Park Amphitheater, Digital Art Center, Wellspring Theater and Zhongshan Hall.

Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun said since its launch in 1998, TAF has grown in size and stature to become one of the most important arts events in the metropolis. It is hoped that the city's diverse and rich culture can enjoy greater visibility at home and abroad through this world-class platform for creative exchanges, he added.

Echoing Chen's remarks, TAF Artistic Director Keng Yi-wei said the theme of this year's festival, City and its Future, is intimately linked to the origins of his creativity as a boy growing up by the sea. Art is like the Mother Nature of a city, providing inhabitants with the conditions for imaginative and innovative expression that could give rise to a new, creative world.

One of the program highlights is Remote Taipei, an immersive theater work by German troupe Rimini Protokoll. During the 100-minute performance, the actors obey the instructions of an electronic voice as they explore the city and discover secret truths about their surrounds, themselves and the group.

Equally impressive are Faust, Ghosts, Hazardous Games around Hearts and Arrows and The B-side, by four groups debuting at TAF.

Faust is the latest offering by Taiwan's Contemporary Legend Theatre in collaboration with German dramatist Christoph Lepschy. The 150-minute production blends elements of Peking opera with the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's celebrated drama Faust.

A similarly intriguing piece is Ghosts, a cooperative effort between Tainaner Ensemble from Tainan City in southern Taiwan and French director Pascal Rambert. Unfolding over 105 minutes, the tale centers on six siblings piecing together their family's past through interactions with a ghost.

Less otherworldly is Hazardous Games around Hearts and Arrows by Yi-shin Taiwanese Opera Troupe and German director Lukas Hemleb. Adapted from The Game of Love and Chance by French playwright Pierre de Marivaux, the 130-minute production tells the stories of four men and women falling in love with wholly unsuitable partners.

Also rooted in reality is The B-side by U.S.-based theater company The Wooster Group. Actors reproduce the lives of inmates serving time on a U.S. prison farm in 1964 during the 60-minute performance inspired by the blues, folk, religious and spiritual songs featured on the LP Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons.

Source: Taiwan Today