Written by Wen Liu and Hsin-I Sydney Yueh. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly rearranged our social relations and affective connections. Amid disinformation and virus-origin conspiracy theories circulating across the social landscape, governmental responses to the pandemic have included various public health measures, such as lockdowns and mask mandates, and political measures, such as escalating geopolitical conflicts between the United States and China. Around the world, fear has been one of the most prominent affective responses to the pandemic, as driven by disinformation practices, intensified geopolitics, and our raw psychic fear about the unknown.
Author: Chee-Hann Wu
Freedom Fighting: Taiwan’s Resistance against China’s Ethnonationalism
Written by Hsin-I Cheng. In the past decade, the world has heard the resisting voices of dissidents across Asia. From the 2014 Sunflower Movement to the Occupied Central Movement in Hong Kong later in the same year, citizens peacefully held their governments accountable. Since then, we have witnessed mass protests for freedom and transparency in nations. These challenges against authoritarianism generated transnational synergy, as demonstrated in the “#Milk Tea Alliance.” This movement started in 2020 when young Thai netizens fought cyberattacks against two Thai celebrities who expressed support for Taiwan and Hong Kong’s autonomy. Shockingly, two years later, the world witnessed Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine—it is a less militarily powerful neighbouring nation. Against these backdrops, we launched the book: Resistance in the Era of Nationalisms: Performing Identities in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Innovating Tradition: The Interdisciplinary Practice of “Bodehi” Glove Puppetry Theatre in Taiwan
Written by Chih-Ching Chester Tsai. Bodehi, Budaixi, or literal translation cloth sack theatre (布袋戲), is a form of traditional puppetry theatre in Taiwan. It was brought to Taiwan by early immigrants from southeast provinces of China during the Qing Dynasty. It has since developed into a unique form of theatre infused with local style and would later grow into one of the unofficial symbols of Taiwanese culture.
Taiwanese Theatre as a Keyword: Publications in 2022
Written by Yuning Liu. “Taiwanese drama/theatre/performance” as a keyword is unfortunately not a prevalent term in Anglophonic academic circles. However, 2022 can indeed be considered a fruitful year in Taiwan’s play translation and theatre research. In this article, I review the research focusing on Taiwanese drama/theatre/performance published in 2022. As a theatre scholar, my goal is not only to raise awareness of Taiwanese theatre studies but, more importantly, to consider how to take Taiwanese theatre research beyond the framework of regional theatrical studies and find more possibilities for dialogue with global audiences and theatre studies scholars.
The Intercultural Resonance between Taiwan and Q: A Night at the Kabuki (2022)
Written by An-Ru Chu. In the second half of 2022, when Taiwan was gradually relieved from the waves of omicron subvariant-induced outbreak, the country experienced an unprecedentedly large quantity of theatrical productions and cultural events since many of them should have been presented earlier but rescheduled because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a Japanese staged play, Q: A Night at the Kabuki, broke National Theatre (NT) box office record in Taipei. NT sold 12,000 tickets in merely twenty minutes for the first time in thirty-five years. When applauding the artistic achievement of the play per se, most posts also mentioned the following two aspects: first, the strong emotions evoked by seeing one of the leading actresses, Takako Matsu, in person, which echoes how the show had extensively grabbed the media’s attention since last May.
2022 Taiwan Theatre Report: Coronavirus, Chaos, Challenges, and Changes
Written by Yi-Ping Wu. How would people of the future think of the theatre of Taiwan in 2022? A year haunted by the Coronavirus pandemic? A year in which the international situation was overshadowed by the Russian-Ukranian war? What are some lessons we learned in the past year? Undeniably, 2022 was a rapidly changing and challenging year for the Taiwanese. As to the field of theatre, 2022, in my perspective, could be recognised as the year of “change” due to the following characteristics.
Artists and the Unruly Bodies: Performances in 1980s Taiwan
Written by Chee-Hann Wu. 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM). Founded in 1983, the museum has witnessed the vicissitudes of Taiwanese society and its democratisation since the 1980s. The Wild Eighties: Dawn of a Transdisciplinary Taiwan, the first curated exhibition celebrating the Museum’s 40th anniversary, reconfigures the socio-political environment of the 1980s in conversation with the cultural scenes. Opening in December 2022, 25 years after the lifting of martial law, The Wild Eighties shows how the political transition inspired artists and creators to experiment with new forms of artistic expression grounded in rebellion and revolution and reimagined the meaning and relationship between art and society.
An Unlimited Future: How Do We Get There?
Written by JhuCin Rita Jhang. The year 2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the pride parade in Taiwan. It is a feat worth celebrating, and its theme, “An Unlimited Future,” adumbrates directions we are, or ought to be, heading toward.
The host of the pride parade, Taiwan Rainbow Civil Action Association, explained, “this year’s theme, An Unlimited Future, heralds our long-term goal—to liberate all oppressions against sex and all stereotypes, allowing endless possibilities for everyone’s identity. The ultimate goal is that one day, no one needs to announce their identity in any way but can be anyone they want without judgment.” However, to arrive at the future depicted in this statement, we need first to understand what were, are, and may remain the limits, who put these limits and on whom, what are the consequences of the limits, and more importantly, the results of removal of these limits.
Tainan Police Murder: A Chance for Total Reform of Police Use of Force Training
Written by Wei-An Tsai. In August 2022, the brutal murder of two police officers on duty in Tainan city sent shock waves through Taiwanese society. The two officers, Tu Ming-cheng (凃明誠) and Tsao Jui-chieh (曹瑞傑), were tipped about a stolen motorcycle and set out to investigate. However, they were later ambushed and killed by the suspect shortly after arriving at the scene, which was in an unpopulated area.
The two officers suffered fatal stab wounds, despite one carrying a gun. The issue of the timing to use firearms quickly became the centre of public debate. In apprehending the suspect on the run, the Interior Minister, Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇), instructed police officers “not to hesitate to open fire when faced with resistance.”
Eliminating the Criminal Source of Human Trafficking in Cambodia
Written by Yi-hsiang Shih. Human trafficking is nothing new to the world, yet, the term certainly receives much more attention than ever in 2022 Taiwan. Taiwanese people generally do not see themselves as victims of human trafficking. However, the cases of human trafficking in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, suddenly received extensive attention in 2022. Many of the victims in these cases were characterized as young people in Taiwan under low wages and unstable jobs and whose economic life had been affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. To survive, these young people are easily lured by relatives and friends or false job information and become the main target for criminal groups. They are often deceived into working at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (the scamming compounds) in Cambodia, eventually becoming “commodities” exploited by human trafficking groups.
Small Step from You, A Great Leap for Migrant Workers: Documentary, ‘Civil Society’ and ‘And Miles to Go Before I Sleep’ (2022)
Written by Hsin-Chin Evelyn Hsieh. The award for the best documentary feature at the 59th Golden Horse Awards held in November 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan, went to And Miles to Go Before I Sleep (2022), directed by Tsung-Lung Tsai. At the ceremony, film producer Kim Hong Nguyen, dressed in the Vietnamese traditional garment áo dài, read out a message from Quoc Phi Nguyen’s family expressing their grief and hopes. It was the first time a documentary on migrant workers was presented with the Golden Horse Award, thereby creating a platform for voiceless migrants and drawing attention to the related issues in mainstream society.
Her journey to the Best Actor award: Taiwanese Opera performer Chen Ya-Lan made the history
Written by Jasmine Yu-Hsing Chen. October 22, 2022, outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwanese Opera performer Chen Ya-Lan (陳亞蘭) astonished audience members on the red carpet for the 57th Golden Bell Awards (GBA). This annual award honours excellence in television and radio programs created in Taiwan. As a female performer, Chen broke records with her Best Leading Actor Award nomination.