Jump to the content zone at the center

Extraordinary creativity found in ordinary venues: 2013 Taipei Fringe Festival

By Gloria Cho
Staff Writer

BDSM.TWOne may choose to be dressed up for a serious performance or simply ignore all the criteria and have fun in virtually every day life venues during the 2013 Taipei Fringe Festival (TFF). Art is no longer a high-profile enjoyment but can be the embodiment of everyman's ideas. That's exactly the spirit of TFF—focusing on the fervent passion and creativity hidden in all art.  

This year, with more variety in venues and improved quality of performances, the 6th TFF will provide up to 410 shows brought forth by 109 groups in 27 venues from August 31st to September 15th.

Possibility on venues
TFF has been dedicated to discovering alternative spaces suitable to stage performances, with an attempt to overturn the stereotype that art only can be appreciated in theaters.

As part of the effort, spaces introduced in this year's event have further extended to the northern district. Among them is the SPA Spring Resort located near the geothermal valley in Beitou that will stage two programs—Kuai Kuai from September 4th to 8th and Hong Kong People's Fringe Festival 2013 Taipei Journey: Killing the Loneliness II from September 7th to 15th.

An absurdist comedy, Kuai Kuai is about a family trip (once a year) presented by Bon Ce Day. Consisting of students from Taipei National University of Arts, the troupe seeks to "present the magical moments in common lives."

MCT is going to present Human Rights on September 10 and 11 as part of the programs of the 2013 Taipei Fringe Festival.Killing the Loneliness II is part of the programs of the Hong Kong People's Fringe Festival 2013 that plans to stage four programs, including music, theater, and dance, before its official kick-off back in its hometown this November. Each performance allows only 15 audience members so as to facilitate closer interaction with the actors. 

The other noteworthy site is Paper Mill, a renovated Japanese edifice where its plank paths and plant walls give out a bizarre atmosphere, drawing experimental troupes to stage performances.

Combining experimental sounds with avant-garde visual images, SMOKE MACHINE is going to create an unique electronic music aesthetic therein with their work UNCOVER FESTIVAL. On the other hand, Exploration Mill, billed as a physical and sound improvisation program is customized for the venue.

Not only are there more venues, but the themes adopted are much broader in variety in 2013 TFF. Instead of frequently seen topics like love affairs, family, and school lives, social issues such as community reform, no-nuke campaign, gender consciousness, and others alike are all available in this year's edition.

Comma Theatre Company is going to stage Two play To play: L'aide-Memoire and Gongliao No Nuke from September 1st to 14th. A retrospective of the anti-nuke history in Gongliao, the troupe invites audiences to reflect on the issue as they did.

Chen Yu-Lan by the On Stage Performing Workshop is going to reproduce the family, friendship, and names lost to memories from the torn down houses.

Tail Off, Girls Survive overwhelms the gender stereotypes of historical and mythical figures, trying to rewrite their legends through the modern perspective. Presented by men-rest Girls, the show will hit the stage from September 11th to 13th. 

Other highlights still include Ars Nova Trio's Travel with Music: a guide for up-close music listening, offering a feast on a wide variety of genres. The three musicians playing cello, violin, and piano will carry listeners away on a wonderful trip with their interpretation of classical music, chamber music, tango, Taiwanese folk songs, and more.

Taipei Theatre Lab"Abundant selections of music allow listeners to compare with one another and therefore acquire further understanding of them," noted pianist Yen Ching-ying. To enhance audiences' knowledge of the repertoire, the troupe had made it a routine to explain a little about the repertoire before performing.  

Having been devoted to getting music closer to people's daily lives for the past four years, cellist Kuo Hsin-ping considers TFF a platform to fulfill their ideal and also a great opportunity to learn more from other performers, added violist Chen I-an.

Similar in the performing form, Freedom-Panai, O'rip, Urban town narrows down on music genres to zoom in on the Taiwan aboriginal music by the Creating Music Orchestra, a Jazz and Aboriginal music string band who will perform from September 1st to 14th.

Young Amis descent Angus Lee left home at an early age for Taipei where he found both dreams and loss. The repertoire reveals the keen observation of the metropolis from an aboriginal youth's perspective. To enrich the program, a micro movie will be screened visualizing the songs simultaneously along with the music.

Another highlight is Distorted Curve, a non-musical theater with multimedia effects presented by the SunsetRetto. Talented in gathering all kinds of common yet often ignored sounds and feelings for creation inspiration, the troupe lures audiences into a blurred story with their unique music.

Last but not the least is a BDSM carnival—probably the most highly debated act. On September 14th and 15th, the BDSM.TW will join Gbooks to present This is Shibari, Woof! The show embodies theater, dominance/submission practice, and a book signing, which allows those with the same taste to exchange opinions while allowing outsiders a chance to know it better. Four sections specializing in Shibari tutorial, spanking tutorial, seminar on safe BDSM, and speeches on kinky psychology are planned along with the performance.

Centered on gender issues, BDSM.TW strives to make this interest visible and active, while at the same time seeking the right to enjoy the lust.

"We'd like to stand out representing those who fancy for BDSM," said Nawakiri Shin, a master of the rope art as well as a member of BDSM.TW. His mastery of the Shibari skill had also brought him to Moscow for performances and his act in Taipei will be followed by a trip to London this September.

Festival within the festival

Young Stars, New Vision 2013 will present two shows from September 5 to 15 as part of the programs of the 2013 Taipei Fringe Festival.The 2013 TFF continues to encourage feature series programs in the format of "festival within the festival" to accommodate grater possibilities. Participating programs include ENGLISH: DO YOU SPEAK IT?!: Fringe's Foreigner Comedy: Taipei Improv presents: Loooooong Form, Hong Kong People's Fringe Festival 2013 Taipei Journey, and Young Stars, New Vision 2013: Drama Part II.

Curated by Nic Sando, the first program covers a varied sampling of performances given by artists from around the world. Hailing from New Zealand, Sando is good at blending improv, sketch and stand-up into something bizarre, joyful and uniquely his own.

In total, there will be 5 programs with talk shows as a centerpiece full of amusement, music, stand-up, improv, sketches and awkwardness from September 1st to 8th.
The TFF's Hong Kong counterpart, Hong Kong People's Fringe Festival 2013 Taipei Journey, is going to stage four performances from September 3rd to 15th. They cover a wide variety of acts from a drum solo concert to dance and music, serving as a historically significant exchange between the Hong Kong and Taipei fringe cultures.

Directing attention back to Taiwan, the Young Stars, New Vision 2013 will stage drama and dance performances from September 5th to 15th. It's part of the National Culture and Arts Foundation's attempt to discover new talents and finance their productions with required resources.

In the category of international programs, 2013 TFF still hosts several performing troupes from Hong Kong and Japan. A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup presented by Japanese troupe Shoshinz unveils the alone but not lonely adventure of a shy and mysterious lady from September 12th to 15th.

Programs from Hong Kong include OUR.HK.MUSICAL THEATRE that infuses theater and Broadway musical elements; Saturdate World tour-Taipei; Intimate Landscape II, and more.  

TFF has now served as a platform for alternative, non-mainstream, and experimental performances. To encourage budding groups, while at the same time cultivating local creation, the festival continues the Fringe Stars program by offering awards and prizes to high quality performances. A grand opening parade will take place in Ximending on August 31st and information on programs and tickets is available on www.taipeifringe.org.