Taiwan International Festival of Arts modifies program over COVID-19

01/26/2021 05:17 PM
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Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou
Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou's "Inside." Photo courtesy of the National Theater and Concert Hall

Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) The Taiwan International Festival of Arts, presented in Taipei by the National Theater and Concert Hall, has made changes to its programming involving foreign productions amid growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizer said Monday.

The festival originally planned to begin ticket sales for foreign productions on Feb. 1, but scraped the sales Monday out of consideration of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, according to the National Theater and Concert Hall.

Ticket sales for local productions already started in December and remained ongoing.

A total of seven ticketed productions have been canceled, the organizer said, including Internationaal Theater Amsterdam's "Ibsen house," two concerts by pipa soloist Chung Yufeng (鍾玉鳳) and other musicians at home and from abroad, as well as an outdoor free event -- Wired Aerial Theatre's "As The World Tipped."

A series of other events, such as workshops, stage tours and a sleepover in the National Theater, have also been cancelled.

To fill the gap in the programming, the festival, which will run between March 2 and May 2, has added five new ticketed events to its lineup.

From the Adelaide Festival

They include a streaming of Internationaal Theater Amsterdam's "Medea" live from the Netherlands to the National Theater on March 3, according to the organizer.

A live streaming of "Medea" is already part of the Adelaide Festival's programming on March 4, as the Australian event's plan to include international performers without them being actually present was made possible.

The National Theater will screen on March 14 a recorded version of "Sopro" by Portuguese artist Tiago Rodrigues and the Teatro Nacional D.Maria II, which was scheduled to be staged in Taipei from March 19-21. It will be performed in Portuguese with Chinese subtitles.

Tiago Rodrigues' solo performance "By Heart" on March 18-21 was also among those cancelled.

A teaser for "Sopro," a play about the profession of prompters in the theater.

After the festival's 2020 edition was similarly disrupted due the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Theater and Concert Hall experimented on ideas of presenting performances without a live venue last year.

One of the newly added programs is an online screening of the festival's 2018 hit, the Dutch group's "Kings of War."

People who buy tickets to the event will be able to watch online for 24 hours starting 12 p.m. on March 13. It will be performed in Dutch with Chinese subtitles.

The National Theater will also present video installation art by Greece's Dimitris Papaioannou titled "Inside," which was originally staged in a theater in Athens in 2011 as a six-hour play with 30 performers in a room doing everyday activities, without dialogue.

The organizer said it expects the six-hour video work to be screened in the lobby of the National Theater from March 2-7 to allow the audience to re-examine how to spend time alone in the days in which "quarantine has changed many people's lives."

Eight backstage tours of the National Theater are also among the new offerings, which are designed to show how theater has evolved on the technical side, the organizer said.

On the stage of the National Theater. Photo courtesy of the National Theater and Concert Hall
On the stage of the National Theater. Photo courtesy of the National Theater and Concert Hall

The National Theater and Concert Hall has not been the only venue overseen by the National Performing Arts Center to be affected by the programming changes.

In central Taiwan, the National Taichung Theater announced in late December cancellations of three productions it had planned for the festival's offerings in the central city between March 19 and June 6.

The National Kaohsiung Center of the Arts also announced last week the cancellation of a March 13 concert by two pianist brothers, Lucas and Arthur Jussen from the Netherlands. It is one of 10 programs that was to have been presented and highlighted by the venue in the southern city.

(By Chao Ching-yu and Kay Liu)

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