A theater-intense weekend
By Tang Hsiang-yi and Lily Hsueh, The China PostEntering its third week, the Taiwan International Festival of Arts (TIFA, 台灣國際藝術節) presents three different forms of theater with “Der Spieler” (The Gambler), “La Disparition” and “Fall for Eileen Chang,” plus a Nanquan concert “Moon in Your Eyes” this weekend. All of them are either giving their world premiere or Asian premiere.
March 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Inspired by and named after acclaimed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky's (1821~ 1881) short novel, “Der Spieler” centers on a fanatic gambler, reflecting the author's addiction to roulette, and just how far a gambler could go. The work produced by the Volksbühne (People's Theater) from Berlin premiered at the 2011 Vienna Festival. The theater's artistic director as well as director of “Der Spieler” Frank Castorf is leading the troupe to Taiwan, showing local theatergoers his distinctive theatrical style for the first time.
At a press event earlier this week, Castorf spoke of Dostoyevsky's exile in Siberia and the illness he suffered from, which Castorf believes had a great impact on the Dostoyevsky's works.
“Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy during his exile in Siberia, which prompted him to look at the world differently… his works wouldn't be the same if he hadn't been through that period of time,” Castorf said. The director has adapted several of Dostoyevsky's works since 1999, including “The Demons” (1999), “The Insulted and the Injured” (2001) and “The Idiot” (2002).
Castorf's characterization of the gambler is the most attractive. “This is a person who gambles away everything, from property to health and life. Dostoyevsky is a total gambler … a guerrilla fighting his own life without rules or strategy,” he explained.
In real life, Dostoyevsky's addiction to gambling became even more outrageous after he wrote “Der Spieler,” which he finished in 26 days to pay off debts in the first place.
The play is 4 1/2 hours long with an intermission.
► 'Der Spieler' (賭徒) / 2:30 p.m. Feb. 28 (Thurs.), March 2 (Sat.) and March 3 (Sun.) / National Theater (國家戲劇院) / NT $600 ~ NT$3,000
Thought-provoking Puppet Theater for Children
Discussing the subject of death with young children is never easy. “La Disparition – rêverie sous l'arbre de mille ans” (消失–神木下的夢) attempts to build a bridge, leading audiences to explore the sensitive and touchy issue.
Written by Chou Jung-shih (周蓉詩) of L'Est et l'Ouest (東西社) and directed by Shih Pei-yu (石佩玉) of Flying-Group Theatre (飛人集社), “La Disparation” (The Disappearance) is the last part of a trilogy that portrays different phases of life. Through presenting characters in different puppet forms, such as masks and table-top puppets, children's attention can be easily centered on the stage. The production also features French illustrator Ghislaine Herbéra's images and Wang Yu-jun's (王榆鈞) original music.
The trilogy began with “La Naissance” (The Birth) in 2011, carried on with “Le jour de Grandir” (The Grown-up Day) the next year. Since it is a Taiwan-France collaboration, the shows are shown in both Taipei and France's Marseille, where Chou is based.