Friday, September 18, 2015

《台湾梦首部曲: 西夏旅馆 • 蝴蝶书》

Amidst all the furore and debates arising from our #GE2015, I must be quite crazy to sit through Wei Ying-chuan's three-hour avant-garde 'Taiwan Dreams Episode 1: Dream Hotel'. 台湾剧场导演- 魏瑛娟《台湾梦首部曲: 西夏旅馆 • 蝴蝶书》This play is a response to, and loosely based on contemporary acclaimed Taiwanese author Luo Yi-chun's novel 'Xixia Hotel'. Since I couldn't make any dates of much-raved-about 'Hotel' by Ivan Heng, Glen Goei, Alfian S'aat and Marcia Vanderstraaten, I caught this Taiwanese production.

《西夏旅馆 • 蝴蝶书》是魏瑛娟导演对于台湾知名的现代作家-骆以军的长篇巨作《西夏旅馆》的艺术对话。小说描述了1949年外省移民来到台湾的故事,以及他们的第二代对于台湾历史的凝视思考。

Wei Yin-chuan wanted to give the novel a feminine voice, splitting the play into halves of yang (阳) and yin (阴). The play followed protagonist hermaphrodite Tu-Nick on an adventure to seek his/her parents and learn their stories. The first half followed his search of his father's lineage and the second half followed his mother's people. Tu-Nick met talking animals named after historical dead Chinese leaders. There was a bit about the total annihilation of the Western Xia dynasty (西夏) in the 11th century by the Mongols. Known as the Tangut Empire (党项), they're also called the Minyak. This is the same period in time as Northern and Southern Song dynasty, Liao and Jin (Jurchens). The play moved on to the civil war of 1940s that forever divided China and Taiwan, and finally to modern day year 2000 when Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party caused a public outcry in its attempt to re-name places and asserting the Minan dialect. There was a fictional language of butterfly script too (蝴蝶字). Also mentioned was Taiwanese students' '318 Sunflower Movement' in 2014.

Should you choose to read more into the political commentary running through the play, there would certainly be food for thought. Themes of democracy ran strong, parallel to freedom of expression, self and individual rights. I didn't want to think about these head-splitting issues just yet. Bit overwhelmed by the various commentaries on the recently concluded #GE2015. Everybody's saying something. I hope the machinery and the elected continue to do what they're supposed to do, both majority and non-majority parties.

- an interview with the playwright by Zaobao

Fables and little stories peppered the play. The videos and photographs projected onto the wall formed the backdrop and scene sets taking the audience through the vast deserts of ancient China to Taiwan's bustling streets today. I understood this play was shortened from the original length of six hours. WAH. What a complicated search of self-identity. Totally enjoyable. 

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