2010 Taiwan International Festival to have local, foreign artists

After its debut this year, the Taiwan International Festival’s line-up of presentations next year includes avant-garde creations with fresh perspectives meant to challenge the sensitivities of international and local performing arts lovers.

The 2010 Festival, organized by the National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center (National Theater & Concert Hall), will have 15 productions from nine countries, including six world premieres and six Asia premieres, in the form of dance, drama, music, and visual arts, from February 19 to March 28. Renowned stage director Robert Wilson’s “1433-The Grand Voyage,” founder of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre Lin Hwai-min’s “Listening to the River,” and choreographer Lin Mei-hong’s “Violett, Lila, PurPur,” are just some of the performances that will dazzle their audiences.

“Taiwan International Festival is a very young festival,” Tchen Yu-chiou, chairperson of the National Theater & Concert Hall, said in an interview on November 4. “But despite its age, we have the most premieres, none of the shows are reheated, and they are jointly created by Taiwan and foreign artists; this is what makes it different from other arts festivals in Asia.”

The three flagship productions “1433-The Grand Voyage,” “On the Road,” and “Violett, Lila, PurPur,” are funded and co-produced by the National Theater & Concert Hall, inspired by Taiwan’s own stories, drawn from an abundant pool of artistic talent, and designed with the resolve to present those stories with a universal twist and international production standards.

“1433-The Grand Voyage” focuses on the seventh voyage of Zheng He (1371-1433), a eunuch, diplomat, and maritime explorer during China’s Ming Dynasty. Zheng’s seven sea voyages to the West beginning in 1405 have become legends and the subject of much scholarly research.

For next year’s production, Wilson has started working with the U Theatre of Taiwan, and Tang Mei-yu, the award-winning television and movie diva in Taiwanese opera, to create a contemporary interpretation of this historical figure.

“Don’t expect to see a solid plotline in ‘1433’” said Tchen, “the performance will blend historical reality with an imaginative future.”
Building a name

Earlier this year, art directors from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Holland came to Taiwan to watch the rehearsals for “1433” and some expressed interest in buying the production. Given its production concept of having local and international performers, the festival could soon build a name for itself and attract foreign producers to buy programs, said Tchen.

“On the Road” is a musical with virtual storylines that interweaves music and video images. Renowned conductor Chien Wen-pin will play one of the lead roles, and aboriginal performers from the Puyuma tribe of Nan Wang Village in Taitung will sing and perform for the first time in the National Concert Hall with the accompaniment of the National Symphony Orchestra.

“Violett, Lila, PurPur,” is an embodiment of universal values such as human rights and love. Collaboration between choreographer Lin Mei-hong and the Tanztheater des Staatstheatres Darmstadt, Germany, has produced this dance piece that attempts to arouse compassion for those who have been suffering in dark silence for decades. The dance work will debut in Germany a month later after its March 2010 premiere in Taiwan.

In addition to the premieres, the festival will have a new theme every year. This year—Diversity and Sustainability, will have programs that speak of environmental awareness. “Sirena a La plancha” by Spain’s Sol Pico Dance Company and “The Blue Planet LIVE” by George Fenton and the National Symphony Orchestra are two must-sees.

The avant-garde creations include Thomas Ostermeier’s “Hamlet,” Eugenio Barba’s “Salt,” and Angelin Preljocaj’s dance work “Snow White.” These three performances have never been shown in Asia.

For show times and venues, please visit http://tif.ntch.edu.tw/en_home.php

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