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The closer, the better

The closer, the better
 ​Text & image: Taipei Performing Art Center

Time Magazine has selected Taipei Performing Art Center (TPAC) as one of the World’s Greatest Places of 2021. The center, which took a decade to build, has also been listed as a global literature hotspot by CNN in the US and the Guardian UK. It is being operated on a trial basis from March 11 to May 15.

The new center is conveniently located, only a 5-minute walk from Jiantan metro station. It also has the geographical advantage of being close by Shilin Night Market, thus bridging the gap between art and everyday life. The cultural experience begins the moment one alights from the metro: an evening meal can be enjoyed at Shilin Night Market at 6 pm, followed by a walk around nearby scenic spots, then at 8 pm it’s time to go to the theater.

This splendid art center was designed by an international team led by Pritzker Prize winners Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of internationally renowned Dutch architectural company the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Until the official July opening, the center is being run by the planning team on a trial basis for two months. Fifteen groups have been invited to perform, with 46 ticketed shows and 12 free shows taking place in the three indoor theaters and on a small outdoor stage.

The spectacular spherical building has attracted a lot of attention during its ten years of construction. Inside, the 800 seats of the Globe Playhouse are arranged in circles around the stage, giving each seat a direct view, while 19 semi-open balconies also provide an unimpeded viewing experience.

The Grand Theater (大劇院) has 1500 seats, and the ultra-close arrangement makes viewing feel like actually being on-stage. The 800-seat Blue Box (藍盒子) is the largest experimental theater space in Taiwan. Aided by performance groups and audiences, the design team are using the trial period to test the equipment, electronics, staffing, service protocols, and visitor movement patterns.

The long construction period did not go unnoticed by many Shilin residents, and 5000 free tickets to the inaugural event were made available. Specially invited to the debut of Summertime Daze (熱天酣眠) performed by Our Theater (阮劇團) on the morning of the March 11 were the deities from three old temples that have stood guard over Shilin for more than 200 years: Empress of Heaven (天上聖母) from Cixian Temple (慈諴宮), the Emperor Shennong (神農大帝) from Shennong Temple (神農宮), and the Sacred Duke, Founder of Zhangzhou, (開漳聖王) from Huichi Temple (惠濟宮). Also in attendance was the Earth God (福德正神) from Shilin Fude Temple (福德宮), who guards the new Center. The deities arrived at TPAC after a parade that began at the center and stopped at each of the four temples en route. In addition to sharing the joy of the inauguration, prayers were also made for blessings from the deities to ensure the center’s smooth running. The show was open to members of the public, as well as the deities.

During the trial period, visitors can enjoy 40% off all ticket prices and households registered in Shilin are also eligible for free tickets. For further details, visit the TPAC website. The center welcomes visitors so please drop by for a delightful stroll around the facilities, as fascinating as wandering through Shilin Night Market. Let the performing arts embrace you as the Taipei Performing Arts Center treats you as an intimate friend.