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Taipei Children’s Arts Festival presents New Kids in Town

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Photo from TPAC
Left to right, Bank SinoPac Senior Deputy General Manager Tian Wen-qing, TPAC Director Austin Wang, DOCA Deputy Commissioner Chen Yu-hsin, and Taipei Culture Foundation Chairman Li Yuan at the press conference of Taipei Children’s Arts Festival on June 10.

By Yali Chen

Imagination, creativity and family fun! The largest festival of its kind in Taiwan, Taipei Children’s Arts Festival is for families who enjoy watching artistic and cultural performances together. Now in its 21st year, the event will run from July 17 through August 9.
This year’s theme, set by Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) and Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC), is “New Kids in Town” (從零開始).
The COVID-19 pandemic means that some international artists and performing arts groups will be unable to come to Taipei to take part in this year’s festival, so the organizers decided to invite Taiwanese artists to perform. This year, 30 Taiwanese groups (up from last year’s 14) will give 165 performances, including three ticketed shows. Tickets are on sale at https://www.artsticket.com.tw/.
The festival features theater, dance, music, circus, puppetry, stunts, and traditional opera. Free of charge over three consecutive weekends, people can watch community performances by the Fun Fair (藝術樂園) and LAB (童創基地) performing groups.
“New Kids in Town is an enjoyable art and cultural festival for all ages,” said DOCA Deputy Commissioner Chen Yu-hsin (陳譽馨). “I believe art and creativity are a source of inspiration and joy for everyone.”
Taipei Culture Foundation Chairman Li Yuan (李遠) said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyday lives around the world. Lockdowns and social distancing have forced us to slow down.
“However, despite this pandemic, we have gotten the festival off to a good start,” he said. “It offers parents and children music, entertaining performances, parties, and plenty of fun.
The LAB Project

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Photo from TPAC
Demo of the Wind by the Dark Eyes Performance Lab, HORSE, and MIT Saxophone Ensemble.
This is the 13th year that Bank SinoPac is supporting the festival. “This year, through the festival’s new LAB project we are supporting budding Taiwanese artists to create new performances,” said Senior Deputy General Manager Tian Wen-qing (田文清). The Way Back (回家) by The Double Theatre (複象公場) and Who Stole My Words? (誰偷走了我的字?) by the Puncture Creative (刺點創作工坊) are examples of such creations.
This is also the 3rd year that Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) are co-organizing the festival. “We invited some working artists who have recently become parents to take part in this festival,” said TPAC Director Austin Wang (王孟超). “New mothers and fathers always give performances that are sure to amuse people of all ages.”
The first ticketed show Dear Deer (小路決定要去遠方) expresses the tacit yet strong understanding between parents and children. The script by Wu Yen-ting (吳彥霆) won first prize at the 2019 Taipei Children’s Arts Festival.
Born in 1990, Wu is a playwright, theater director, and drama teacher whose students include children and adults. Recent works include Diver (潛水夫), Tiny Lion King Trulu (膽小獅王特魯魯), Fairy Tales: Seven Sins (童話七宗罪), The Giant’s Secret Garden (巨人的祕密花園), Brave Captain (勇敢小船長), Speed Café (速度咖啡廳), and Homework (家庭習題).
This year, Wu worked with Co-COISM (明日和合製作所) director Hung Chien-Han (洪千涵) to create a mobile and interactive stage for a performance from July 17 to July 19 at the Wellspring Theater in Taipei.
Child thespian

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Photo from TPAC
Crab Crossing by the PLAY Theatre.
The second ticketed show, Demo of the Wind (春風小小孩DEMO), was co-created by the Dark Eyes Performance Lab (黑眼睛跨劇團), HORSE (驫舞劇場), and MIT Saxophone Ensemble (MIT米特薩克斯風重奏團). Artists from the three groups combine theater, music and dance. Some are first-time parents who want to create a totally new artistic experience for children.
Ganesha (陳力迦尼), one of the performers, is 4 years old. She plays a character whose perceptions, expressions, and feelings of rejection convey the essence of drama. Demo of the Wind will be presented between July 25 and July 26 at the Wellspring Theater in Taipei.
The third ticketed show The Adventure of Our Little Heroes (小小英雄向右轉-水滸謎城祝家莊) was created by the Po You Set (栢優座). Adapted from the Chinese classic novel Outlaws of the Marsh (水滸傳) and Peking opera The Three Sieges of Zhu Village (三打祝家莊), it depicts Song Jiang (宋江) conquering the Zhu village.
Since its founding in 2007, Po You Set has nurtured many young directors and performers in Taiwan and created 24 original plays. The works Monodrama (獨、角、戲-吉嶽切), Tiger Youth Z (惡虎青年Z), Demon Tamer (降妖者‧齊天), and The Dinner Before Chinese New Year (大年初一前晚的那頓飯), were nominated for the 12th, 15th, 16th, and 18th Taishin Arts Awards, respectively.
Director Hsu Po-ang (許栢昂) specializes in integrating the theatre styles of East and West. For this festival, he created an interactive and immersive theatrical work where young spectators can become part of the performance, playing the role of little heroes in the specially designed theater. The Adventure of Our Little Heroes will be staged from August 7 to August 9 at the Taipei Zhongshan Hall.
The performances of the Fun Fair group will be grouped into three themes and will be staged at the plaza of the Taipei Zhongshan Hall from July 18 until August 2. All events are free and open to the public.
The first theme, “Enjoy the Difference” (樂在不一樣), on July 18 and July 19, focuses on the pursuit of equality and the idea that everyone is unique.
Bringing hope and joy to everyone

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Photo from TPAC
The Adventure of Puppets by the Puppet Beings Theatre.
The Polar Light Percussion Group (極光打擊樂團) is Taiwan’s first percussion group with disabled performers. The Bleinders (蝦米視障人聲樂團) is Taiwan’s first visually impaired a cappella ensemble. They want to spread hope with their musical performances The Fantastical Voyage of Polar Light (極光的奇幻旅程) and The Bleinders’ Song (蝦米ㄔㄤˋ台灣).
The Fun Fair group’s second show theme “WOW! Let’s Move!” (WOW!動起來) will be presented on July 25 and 26. The show depicts the fun and surprises that await everyone in their everyday lives. Wu Zheng-ying (吳政穎) and Dai Yu-ren (戴郁仁), two artists from the Association of Taiwan Street Arts and Culture Development, took the inspiration from their daily routines. Their show Baha Gah! ! (巴哈嘎!!不可不可…) shows how people easily miss the fun hidden in daily life.
A~OH~ (啊~哦~) is a hilarious creation by Wu Cheng-tse (吳政澤) and Lu Tien-yu (呂天佑). It was inspired by classic 1980s martial arts films.
In their show Big Head Play Around (大頭仔去𨑨迌), the Multi-X Theatre Company (魔梯形體劇場) uses masks, soliloquies, comedy, and clowns to depict the courage of ordinary people in difficult situations.
Audiences will also delight in the clown stunts in Pandora’s Box (潘朵拉的盒子) by the Formosa Circus Art (FOCA福爾摩沙馬戲團) group.
On August 1 and August 2, the Fun Fair group’s third theme “Musical Swings!” (音樂劇搖擺) includes three performances. In their show Dear Little One (Dear Little One-為你而唱的音樂劇), female singers from the C MUSICAL (C MUSICAL製作) group will sing about a mother’s gentleness and persistence, and her love and hopes for her children.
The concert A Journey with Granny – Adventure in the Kingdom of Black Shadow (黑影王國歷險記1:跟著阿嬤去旅行) by Puncture Creative has a storyteller taking audiences on a thrilling adventure to the Kingdom of the Black Shadow.
Aca’s Adventure of Children Songs (阿卡的兒歌大冒險) is a musical journey by the A Capella Ensemble (A劇團).
Music for the Pandemic

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Photo from TPAC
Ballet of Candy House by the Capital Ballet Taipei.
The festival organizers asked the C MUSICAL group to compose the song Wash your Hands (給孩子的洗手舞). For three consecutive weekends, this music and dance performance will promote frequent and proper hand washing among parents and children to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Eleven festival programs with 88 free outdoor performances for three consecutive weeks seek to express the idea that life itself is an art.
From July 21 through July 23, the following performances will be given: The Adventure of Sinbad (辛巴達的奇幻冒險之旅) by the HuFive Quintet (有樂x5胡琴重奏), Let’s Make a Fuss! (小題大作) by Mr. Yes Clown Troupe (Mr. YES小丑劇團), Crab Crossing (螃蟹過馬路) by the PLAY Theatre (頑書趣工作室), and Mulan’s Peerless Kung Fu (花木蘭的絕世武功) by Taiwan’s Jing Kun Opera Troupe (臺灣京崑劇團) from the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts.
From July 27 to July 30, the following will be staged: Super Improv. OyakoDON! Let’s DON! (超即親子動滋動) by the New One Theatre (新生一號劇團), The Missing Mouse Princess and the Enchanted Forest (魔法森林之失落的老鼠公主) by the Sunhope Taiwanese Opera Troupe (尚和歌仔戲劇團), and Family Harmony (家和萬事興) by the Blazing Duo (神火俠侶).
Running from August 3 until August 6 are the last four shows of the festival: Stupid Is as Stupid Does (填海.移山.追太陽) by the Sun Son Theatre (身聲劇場), The Adventure of Puppets (小木偶的大冒險) by the Puppet Beings Theatre (偶偶偶劇團), Percussion and Environmental Protection (擊樂環保小尖兵) by Taipei Percussion (台北打擊樂團), and Ballet of Candy House (芭蕾糖果屋) by the Capital Ballet Taipei (台北首督芭蕾舞團).