KaiChieh Tu

KaiChieh Tu
regional managing editor - Taiwan

Kai-Chieh Tu is an international theater director and dramaturg who has been working in theater around the world for more than 10 years. He has an MFA in dramaturgy and theater studies from The American Repertory Theater/ Moscow Art Theater School Institute at Harvard University, and professional experience running his own theatre company TransAction in Taipei, Taiwan. Recent directing projects included: Things You Don’t Know About Asia/n..Or You Do (Dixon Place); 7-Eleven Project (Taipei City). Recent dramaturgy works include: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (American Repertory Theater); Silent Rage (American Repertory Theater). His interests lie in transcultural collaborations, site-specific, adaptation, and translation.

Krystian Lupa’s “The Trial” At Divine Comedy Festival 2017

It is almost impossible to describe the experience of seeing the work of the legendary Polish director Krystian Lupa. Imagine a trance-induced theatrical experiment that draws you into a bottomless abyss insidiously. Lupa chisels an unimaginable territory that you wouldn’t even dare or be able to dream in your deepest slumber. The way Lupa’s actors speak and move on the stage is reminiscent of a broken phonograph that repeats unspeakable horrors of humanity in a monotonous, indifferent tone. Nothing is dramatized or emphasized. Lupa’s dramaturgy visualizes a flat terrain without horizons. Characters wander on this barren land, aimlessly but...

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“Hymn To Love” At Divine Comedy Festival 2017

The chorus, as Nietzsche states in The Birth Of Tragedy, “can only be understood as the cause of tragedy and of the tragic itself,” and “tragedy is originally only ‘chorus’ and not ‘drama.’” Marta Górnicka embarked on her audacious project The Chorus of Women in 2009. Supported by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw, she found a solid laboratory in which to experiment and develop her modern tragic chorus. Górnicka made an open casting call to the public, attempting to diversify the chorus as much as possible regardless of age, profession or musical experience. The description of the...

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“The Rage” at Divine Comedy Festival 2017

Divine Comedy Festival 2017 situates itself awkwardly around the peaceful Christmas Market in the Main Square, Krakow. The 2017 festival, provocatively themed “Theatre in Ruin,” embodies an unusually rebellious, angry, yet still divine spirit in response to the tumultuous political situation in Poland. Artists have responded violently, directly and confrontationally via the broadest possible range of theatrical forms and media. Given that Divine Comedy is one of the biggest mainstream theatre festivals in Poland, it stunned me that almost every show I saw was a hardcore political theatre piece, desperately and fearlessly trying to find an answer with audiences...

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Doing Time, Passing Time, Wasting Time: an Interview with Taiwanese-American Artist Tehching Hsieh

“Downtown Manhattan, 30th September 1978. Tehching Hsieh, a young Taiwanese artist, begins to make an exceptional series of artworks. Working outside the art world’s sanctioned spaces, Hsieh embarks on five consecutive year-long performances. He starts each work by releasing a statement: a strict set of rules that will govern his behavior for the entire year. These performances will be unprecedented in their use of physical difficulty over extreme durations; they will also be unyielding in their conviction that art is a living process. Doing Time exhibits two of Hsieh’s One Year Performances together for the first time, assembling his...

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Ivo van Hove’s “Scenes from a Marriage”

Intimacy burns. A couple pummels each other in an endlessly repetitive cycle from which there is no hope of escape. This never-ending sequence reveals itself as marriage, which encompasses the cacophony of intertwined daily conversations, hanky-panky moaning, exclamations and vicious cursing. The couple creates an airtight jar – oh, I mean a home. When this hermetic world grows unbearably crowded and suffocating, their most precious familial palace insidiously metamorphoses into an enclosed crucible where violence simmers – a battlefield on which the two lovers, Johan and Marianne, destroy each other. In this adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a...

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Festival of Original Theatre in Toronto Presents Diverse Auditory Experimentations

The Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT) is a 25-year-old annual event hosted by The Centre for Drama, University of Toronto. The theme of this year’s festival was “Sounding the Inner Ear of Performance,” and it was a timely event that reverberated with the booming acoustic trend in theatre. As David Roesner observes, “Sound and noise are currently experiencing a long-overdue renaissance in the discourses on theatre, theatricality and performance. After a disproportionate amount of attention directed towards visual and spatial aspects of culture, we are now seeing an ‘acoustic turn,’ to borrow Petra Maria Meyer’ s expression from her...

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Taiwan’s National Taichung Theater Celebrates Its Soft Launch through Epic, Ritualistic and Environmental Performances

As the darkness creeps in, the already crowded plaza in front of the National Taichung Theater attracts some unexpectedly haunting visitors. Ghosts from different eras of Taiwanese history begin to flow into the noisy crowd, creating an eerie but serene atmosphere. These are some faded but not forgotten figures, including Dutch businessmen, English missionaries, native tribal Taiwanese, Japanese geishas, among others, representing the collective memories of this traumatized and more-than-once-colonized island. The wanderers, in between life and death, are summoned. A bunch of Fu, yellow letters of ritual symbols that often relate to Taoism, are attached to the main...

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Sonorous Dramaturgy: Part I

Sonorous dramaturgy, a term borrowed from Eugenio Barba’s On Directing and Dramaturgy: Burning the House (2010), breaks down the hierarchy of the Aristotelian model and opens up new possibilities for evaluating the role of sound and music(ality) in theatre. Barba explains his understanding of ‘text’ in its pre-verbal sense and the necessity to develop a rich palette of sound for his acting training, epitomizing the essence of sonorous dramaturgy: I was obliged to devise an arrangement of vocal actions and peripeteias which could enthrall the spectators independently of their comprehension of the words. Exclamations and calls, whispers, muttering, shouts,...

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Song of the Goat Sings the Tragedy of Cordelia in “Songs of Lear”

Devising their works in a 13th-century refractory and former monastery in Wrocław’s Old Town, Song of the Goat Theatre (Teatr Pieśń Kozła), co-founded in 1996 by Grzegorz Bral and Anna Zubrzycka, outspokenly searches Nietzsche’s vision of resurrecting tragedy though the spirit of music. The company has produced a wide range of ‘musical adaptations,’ including old myths (Chronicles: A Lamentation, 2001; Lacriminosa, 2005), Shakespeare (Macbeth, 2008; Songs of Lear, 2012), and Chekhov (Portraits of The Cherry Orchard, 2013). They have also produced concert-like performances including Return to the Voice (2014), which is based on traditional Scottish music. Furthermore, Song of...

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Taiwanese Experimental and Queer Theater: Always Political, Always Queer

Taiwan is currently celebrating vibrant queer scenes (one of the biggest Pride in Asia) and a relatively tolerant social atmosphere towards gay and lesbian communities (bisexual and transgender people are still largely repressed by conservatism and gender-appropriate norms, unfortunately). Taiwan has been “traumatized” by many events in its recent history: multiple colonizations (1624–62: Netherlands and Spain; 1895–1945: Japan); the retreat of the Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist Party) after losing the Chinese Civil War against the communists; the international crisis of identity triggered by its failed bid to rejoin the United Nations; the intricate Cross-Strait relationship with China (increasingly complicated...

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