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Taipei Arts Festival seeks to 'open eyes' of audience

TAIPEI--The Taipei Arts Festival has adopted the theme of “looking” this year to “open the eyes” of the audience to the different possibilities of performing arts through a diverse lineup of theater, dance and acrobatic performances.

Now entering its 16th year, the festival will present 11 productions spanning theater, dance, musicals, stand-up comedy, puppetry and juggling performances from Aug. 1 to Sept. 7, according to the Taipei Culture Foundation, co-organizer of the festival.

Among them are cross-country productions “The Monk from Tang Dynasty,” an experimental stage play directed by filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang, and “Ubu and the Truth Commission,” a multimedia play that combines puppetry, live actors, music, animation and documentary footage.

The former features actor Lee Kang-sheng, Tsai's long-term collaborator, as the renowned Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who traveled from China to India in the 7th century.

In the play, Lee either lies down or walks at an extremely slow pace on a large white paper on the stage, while painter Kao Jun-honn produces charcoal drawings on the paper.

“Ubu and the Truth Commission,” meanwhile, is based on the hearings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and showcases a licentious 19th-century apartheid police officer as its main character.

Also in the lineup is “Formosa Tempura,” a musical jointly produced by Taiwanese singer-songwriter Bobby Chen, film director Lee Chi-yuarn and visual artist Wu Tien-chang that merges theater, visual arts, and music.

Gandini Juggling will present “Smashed,” an hour-long juggling show featuring nine jugglers, 100 red apples and popular songs, and Antony Hamilton will put on his award-winning dance piece “Black Project 1,” which explores the relationship between the body, space and objects.

Many of the productions this year emphasize visual elements, Keng Yi-wei, artistic director of the festival, said Monday, and he encouraged the audience to “open their eyes” and “be astounded by the view.”

A total of 65 shows of the 11 productions will be held across various venues in Taipei, including The Metropolitan Hall, Taipei Zhongshan Hall and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.

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