Taiwan stage directors work in NYC 'lab'

Updated: 2013-08-28 10:50

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

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Taiwan stage directors work in NYC 'lab'

Two directors from Taiwan will present their work in a six-piece short play festival in New York next week, as part of a multi-cultural theater collaboration.

"This is our experiment," Evan Cummings, co-artistic director of this year's World Wide Lab, said at a news conference on Tuesday. "We're trying to discover what is the process of coming together with different cultures from many different countries, different ideas and different ways of working."

"World Wide Lab: A Director's Feast" will run Sept 4-7 at Irondale Center in Brooklyn, New York. Tickets for the two-part program are $18 per program or $30 for both.

Members of World Wide Lab first came together as participants of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in the summer of 2010. World Wide Lab was then created by graduates of the Lincoln Center program in 2011 to continue collaborating at the Watermill Center performance laboratory in New York.

Twelve directors hailing from Italy, Greece, Israel, India, Taiwan, Canada and the US have continued to collaborate over the past three years and have conceived two separate anthology programs.

World Wide Lab is supported by a few organizations from Taiwan, Israeli Consul of Cultural Affairs, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Canada Consul for the Arts in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.

Program A, which will play Sept 4, 6 and 7, is titled Two is Company. The three-part program explores the inner and outer life of a woman, and examines the rites and rituals involved when people come together and things fall apart.

Program B, another three-part lineup that will be performed Sept 5, 6 and 7, is titled Alone in the Crowd. The program is a theatrical study of community and the individual's place within it. The three short plays will explore how small moments create a person's life tapestry.

Jocelyn Yuchia Chang is based in Taipei, and co-directed two of the six pieces in the program - The Story of an Hour and Interrupted - A Devised Piece. Chang Nai Wen, who splits her time between Taipei and Berlin, also co-directed Interrupted - A Devised Piece, as well as Last Request.

"Not only do these two directors have the precious opportunity to work with world-class directors from different countries, but also I believe it's the best way to learn something new in this one-of-a-kind collaboration and exchange something old from each others' ethnic and cultural backgrounds," Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York Ambassador Andrew J.C. Kao said at the news conference.

Wen is a director, actor and intercultural advisor in theater, film and live art. She has trained in both Taiwan and Germany.

In 2008, she founded the production platform Sisyphos Der Flugelefant in Berlin, which recruits multi-disciplinary artists.

Canadian director and World Wide Lab member Evan Tsitsias wrote on the group's blog about a trip to Wen's production platform in Germany earlier this summer during which he worked with a cast and crew from Australia, Spain, Germany and Taiwan.

"You can imagine the time it took to filter through all the accents and languages," Tsitsias wrote. "It sometimes got so confusing that it took 20 minutes to realize we were all debating the same viewpoint."

Tsitsias, who also co-directed Interrupted - A Devised Piece with Chang and Wen, wrote that interpretation is essential to this multicultural collaboration process.

"This language barrier proved rewarding and frustrating at times. We had to find a new way to communicate," the Canadian director wrote. "And it wasn't just the languages, but also a different working style that we each brought to rehearsals from our native countries."


(China Daily USA 08/28/2013 page2)