The story appears on

Page B2

November 17, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Taiwan family drama opens tonight

SHANGHAI has become the second home for Taiwan-based theater companies that have set up offices, studios and also plan to stage regular shows in the city.

One of the shows, "The Village," opens tonight in the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. The three-and-a-half-hour play by the Performance Workshop is the story of Kuomintang soldiers who decamped to the island in 1949 - and three generations of families.

It's one of the best-known Taiwan theater offerings to be staged in Shanghai by companies with studios in Shanghai Drama Valley.

Lee Kuo-shiu, known as "Taiwan's Moliere," recently opened a studio where he and his coworkers from Taipei's Ping-Fong Acting Troupe create plays and give lectures.

Lee is not the first to have signed a lease with Shanghai Drama Valley, a company promoting theater culture in the city. The company offers preferential rental rates to both established and up-and-coming directors from both home and abroad so they can open offices, stage signature pieces and eventually write new works in Shanghai.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity," Lee says. "For all these years, I've always had this dream that I'd be able to find a professional theater where I could stage all the 39 works of Ping-Fong from the past 25 years.

"It was very hard to realize such a dream in Taipei because of limited resources, but here in Shanghai, with the opening of studio and the help from Shanghai Drama Valley, I think we can make it come true."

Founded in 1986 by Lee, Ping-Fong Acting Troupe is one of Taiwan's leading theater companies. Lee personally wrote, directed and acted in 30 of the company's 39 plays. The company is preparing to stage "Can Three Make It?" - a comedy that debuted 23 years ago but is still very popular in Taipei. Lee hopes to stage it regularly in Shanghai.

Lee is still looking for his "dream theater." He wants it to be big enough to seat 1,500 theater-goers. Apart from the venue, all the actors and workers behind the scenes are ready.

Inspired by traditional Chinese cross talk, the play features only three actors, two men and a woman playing more than 30 roles to showcase the hilarity of modern city life.

"I've always believed that 'local is global'," Lee says. "Theater workers should create plays that reflect their own lives, which they are most familiar with, be it in Taipei or in Shanghai."

He adds that "Can Three Make It?" will be trial to test the market. "Apart from staging regular plays in Shanghai, we'd also like to tour around the country to cities like Hangzhou and Shenzhen where theater culture is blooming," he says.

Lee is actually very late to realize the attractions of the Chinese mainland market, compared with his counterparts from Taiwan. They include director Stan Lai who is best known for "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land," often touted as the most successful contemporary Chinese play; and Wu Hsing-kuo, who has successfully introduced his innovative reinterpretation of classic theater in the form of Peking Opera.

Director Lai's Performance Workshop has been doing so well on the Chinese mainland in recent years that he is now putting most of his effort into developing his career on the mainland.

In less than 10 years, Lai's Performance Group has staged more than 500 performances on the mainland. Debuted in 2006, "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land," for example, has staged more than 160 performances around the country, including four runs in Shanghai - a record in contemporary Chinese theater.

"The Village," an acclaimed work, debuted in Shanghai in January and immediately caused a stir.

"It is a powerful play," says Lai. "It will make you laugh at once, and cry in the next minute. It will touch even the cruelest heart."

Millions of people relocated to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland after Chinese civil war, and they were settled in standard "military dependent's villages" set up for them. At that time, they all assumed it was just temporary, however, some of them never made it back.

A unique second generation were born and grew up in those villages, including director Ang Lee, singer Teresa Teng and actress Brigitte Lin.

The play tells the bitter-sweet stories of three ordinary families over 60 years. According to Lai, about 95 percent of the play is based on real stories.

"When I worked on the play, I felt as if I were writing a history of our people," he says. "It is a process of looking for the roots, and re-defining the images of Taiwan to most people in the a mainland audience."

"The Village"

Date: Today-November 20, 7:15pm

Tickets: 100-880 yuan

Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tel: 962-388


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend