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A summer full of arts with three major festivals in Taipei

An actress rehearses ‘Hey Girl!’. (photo by Rick Yi, Taiwan News)As a summer heat wave continues to engulf the island and the temperature soars past 38 degrees Celsius, people in the capital city Taipei have been seeking all kinds of ways to beat the heat and stay cool.

Instead of just staying at home for the air-conditioning and staring at boring movies and shows on TV, a good idea would be to join in a series of artistic events kicking off in Taipei over the next few months since it is once more about the time of the year for three major artistic events to kick off in Taipei.

The three offerings are the Taipei Arts Festival, Taipei Fringe Festival and the annual event held at Taipei Artist Village.

The first of these series of artistic performance events is the more than month-long Taipei Arts Festival which just launched August 5.

Artist Romeo Castellucci.(photo by Rick Yi, Taiwan News)This year the arts extravaganza brings three theatrical productions created by internationally acclaimed heavyweight directors, Romeo Castellucci, Robert Lepage, and Heiner Goebbels.

The Italian stage director Castellucci has brought his widely popular work “Hey Girl!”
Hailed as one of the most talented experimental directors in the thespian circle, Castellucci explores the inner life and perception of feminine power and oppression in a film that caused a sensation at the Avignon Festival in France in 2006.

The talented Italian has also created an installation art exhibition for the festival called “Lo Penso” at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park, which will be on view until August 29.

A German composer and creator of unconventional music-theatre pieces, Goebbels will present “Stifters Dinge,” at the Taipei Brewery from August 11 to 15.

Artist Romeo Castellucci's public art exhibition The piece is a performance which uses no human performers and instead combines elements of musical, theatrical, art installation, and environmental space into one work.

Following Stifters Dinge is the theatrical marathon “Lipsynch” directed by French-Canadian auteur Lepage. Lipsynch is a three-part, nearly nine-hour meditation on speech and the human voice.

Starting with the crying of infants, the theatrical piece interweaves nine life stories of several nationalities that spans over 70 years.

Lipsynch will be staged at the Metropolitan Hall from August 21 to 28. Viewers can either choose to watch the performance for 8.5 straight hours, or they can divide the performance into three parts.

Aside from these performances to be brought by international talents, Taiwan will be represented by stage director Wang Jia-ming on stage with Shakespeare’s Wild Sisters Group, presenting “Michael Jackson” at Taipei Zhongshan Hall from August 19 to 22.

The performance, according to Wang, was born out of his love for the superstar who passed away last June.

Performers rehearse ‘The Cutter of Happiness’.(photo by Rick Yi, Taiwan News)In “The Cutter of Happiness,” the famous Puppet and Its Double Theatre led by director Cheng Chia-yin will put on a magical performance that incorporates intricate paper cutting with its signature style of puppetry.

The drama relates a tale about a grandma who uses paper cutting to bring her dead grandson back to life, and will be on stage at the Experimental Theatre from September 9 to 12.

If you care about love relationships, try “Mint, Rosemary and the Flower with No Name” presented by the Slow Island Theatre Group at Taipei Zhongshan Hall from August 27 to 29.

The only musical performance in the Taipei Arts Festival, “Timeless Love—Concert of Dichterliebe and Nanguan” will run at the Taipei Zhongshan Hall from September 3 to 5.

The performance marks the first time that Chinese poetry meets with Western classical music in the same concert.

The work will be performed by Nanguan artist Xin Xin Wang, Taiwanese pianist Chien Wen-pin and German tenor Tilman Lichdi.

Performers rehearse ‘The Impossible Times--Taiwan Musical Trilogy’.(photo by Rick Yi, Taiwan News)Another hilarious piece in the annual festival is “Waiting for What?!” which centers on two pandas who are trying hard to break out of a zoo and return home.

Last but not least, the closing performance of the festival will be the Taiwanese musical “The Impossible Times,” which retells the life story of Taiwanese democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui on the big stage.

It will run at the National Theatre from September 10 to 12.
For detailed listings on the performances in the Taipei Arts Festival, visit the festival website at http://eng.taipeifestival.org.tw/

Taipei Fringe Festival 2010

The Taipei Fringe Festival is in its third year now in 2010. First launched in 2008, the Taipei festival was founded following the example of the Fringe in Scotland.

Taipei Fringe Festival 2010.Like its Scotland counterpart, the Taipei Fringe also advocates an open and free spirit and tries to include as many artistic performances as possible that are not included in the so-called mainstream popular culture.

These performances can be called alternative, non-mainstream, underground and independent arts, but they are also parts of urban culture, according to the organizers.

The Taipei Fringe Festival presents the original and diverse creativity of arts to the city. Unlike other forms of artistic performances, these shows and events are exhibited and performed in everyday- life spaces or simply just around the corner in galleries, cafes, even a renovated dormitory and a hair salon, in order to deliver the concept that arts can be free of the trappings of space and class and can be open to everyone.

This year more than 70 groups bringing 254 performances will jointly offer a never before seen feast of all the senses to all who attend the annual event.

A total of 17 of the 70 groups have appeared in previous festivals in Taipei, while the rest are newcomers to the annual event.

They will bring 40 theater plays, 17 dance shows, 9 musicals, and four cross-boundary performances.

In 16 days from August 28 to September 12, the Taipei Fringe Festival will focus all of its attention on creativity in the performing arts.

For more information about the festival, please log on to its official website at www.taipeifringe.org

Addicted to dancing in AIR Taipei

Also, around the same time, the Taipei Artist Village has prepared to launch a series of dance performances under the title “Addicted to Dancing,” featuring works to be performed by dancers from Taiwan, America, France, Thailand and Spain.

Addicted to dancing in AIR Taipei.Since the establishment of Taipei Artist Village (TAV) in 2001, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government, has actively launched exchange programs with other international artist villages in various cities across the globe. Taipei Artist Village has developed a systematic artist selection process which helps fulfill its objective of bringing art and culture together in the city.

Within 10 short years, TAV has taken on a lead role in providing a platform for international artistic and cultural exchanges. It is currently the largest artist village in Taiwan, and the only one able to sponsor international exchange programs in Taipei.

Each year AIR Taipei develops a regular exhibition/performance schedule for both resident artists and the local art community in order to promote interaction between the artists and the general public. The exhibitions and performances by AIR Taipei help artists to establish connections with other artists and institutions around the world and to further explore Taipei City so that they can return home with meaningful experiences.

Yaohua Su, Director of Taipei Artist Village, says that her village can serve as a platform for these artists to exercise their talents.

“The dances in ‘Addicted to Dancing’ represent a state of freedom,” Su notes.

“We hope that the event can allow more artistic creators to watch and learn from each other to brainstorm and bring more new works.”

Artists who will be taking part in this year’s performances include local visual artist Chan Tsun-ming. Chen will be joined by Thai dancer Teerawat Mulvilai and Maxime Iannarelli of France, present a rarely seen feast of the eyes and ears to the audiences.

Choreographer Hsieh Chieh-hua, who has been working on his “Anarchy Series” since 2008, will be presenting his new work in the upcoming “Addicted to Dancing” event.

“Addicted to Dancing” will be held from August 27 to September 25. Tickets are priced at NT$150 each.

To learn more about the upcoming dance performances, visit Taipei Artist Village’s website at www.artistvillage.org