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U Theatre provides 'Ocean' of elation

THE U Theatre from Taiwan will stage one of its signature works, "Sound of the Ocean," at Shanghai Oriental Arts Center on Friday and Saturday.

The play premiered in 1998 at the Avignon Festival in France. It blends the Zen spirit into traditional Oriental percussion and martial arts, earning acclaim around the world in the past decade.

An intense physical and emotional experience, the five-act play traces the cyclical journey of water from a drop to a stream, from the river to the ocean.

The "U" in U Theatre is a phonetic transcription of the Chinese character "you," meaning "superior or excellent." In ancient China, it once meant "actor" as well.

Ever since artistic director Liu Ruo-yu set up the theater in 1987, she has been searching for "superior actors," trying to help them understand the meaning of Zen and establish their "individual attitude" toward life and arts.

The theater is based on a mountain close to Taipei City. U Theatre members have a strict daily routine that includes performing at dawn in front of rural temples, practicing tai chi, hiking, meditating and percussion lessons.

Drum master Huang Chih-chun joined U Theatre in 1993. Together with Liu, they have created an entirely new form of performing arts.

According to the New York Times, U Theatre gives, "a great and complex beauty to the drumming, sounds and silence and simple beats and intricate meshes of precisely articulated rhythms."

Although the theater has toured many cities around the world, including London, New York and Paris, its favorite performance venue is still the mountain in Taiwan.

"No matter how talented you are, if you are used to life with McDonald's and convenient stores, you are not the type of person we're looking for," Liu once said.

Date: June 18-19, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 80-380 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234


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