Written by Yin-Chen Kang. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the February 28 Incident, also known as the 228 Incident. Occurring 76 years ago, this event was sparked at the end of February, leading to the KMT military’s brutal campaign in March against those they considered dissidents, resulting in the slaughter of numerous civilians. This marked the beginning of an extended period of White Terror. While the incident profoundly impacted Taiwanese society, many people may not be aware of the significant consequences of the 228 Incident and the ensuing White Terror on the development of modern Taiwanese theatre.
Hybrid Taiwanese Opera: The Vitality of “Opeila”
Written by Jasmine Yu-Hsing Chen. In Taiwan, outdoor Taiwanese opera performances next to temples have been essential to Taiwanese religious traditions for decades. Most troupes adhere to the etiquette of performing “classical plays for matinees and opeilas for evening performances.” Unlike performances in the afternoon, which are mostly classical repertoires based on books and legends, evening performances are always energetic. With the accompaniment of an electronic piano and jazz drums, the actors on stage sing pop songs and dress in shining sequin robes, fancy suits, or colourful Japanese costumes. This hybrid performance style has been called “opeila” (oo-phiat-a), which is phonetically adapted from the Japanese pronunciation of “opera” (o-pe-ra オペラ) in Taiwanese. This unique subgenre of Taiwanese opera has livened memories in numerous Taiwanese people and is one of the most concrete testimonies of vital Taiwanese culture.
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.
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.