The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
Taiwan's new cultural policy -- The Taiwan National Theater now semi-NPO
How about the line-ups of the Center’s own productions?
For instance, last March we produced a program that linked a puppet theater with the National Symphony Orchestra. It was a production of Firebird. This kind of collaboration for the puppet company would never have been available without our support. Also, it was a rare experience for the NSO. Their concerts are popular and always sell out, however, they had rarely had a chance to accompany another company’s live performance. We presented five performances at the National Theater – and the tickets all sold out.
Again for next year, Peking Opera Company will also perform with NSO—incorporating Western instruments, of course. I don’t know what will be happening yet (laugh). But I think this kind of collaboration encourages artists to seek new experiences and may inspire them in new directions.

Do you program year-round, or more like season by season, or in a festival format?
It used to be a simply year-round programming. But, when I came here, I started trying to do more in the way of thematic or focused programming. For instance, since last year we have started “Dancing in Spring,” a kind of a dance festival. I found that it got us more media coverage than usual. Also I try to focus on new productions in spring, and classical productions in autumn. We also have a “World Series” every year, focusing on one country each year. This started before I came, and I did not like the idea first. However, after reviewing the whole program, I realized it was a good opportunity to grab the attention of the general public. In 2003, we had a UK theme, in 2004 it was France, last year it was Russia, and this year it is Germany. I think programming is easier when it focuses on one area. Since we will focus on our 20th anniversary next year, we will skip the World Series but resume it the following year, probably focusing on Finland or Sweden.

Please tell us about the opportunities for Japanese artists to be invited to your Center.
Before I came here, there was a project called “Little Asia.” When it started in 1997, it was a theater exchange project between experimental theaters in Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, and us in Taiwan. In that series, several Japanese theater groups came to perform in Taiwan, such as Rukaden, Black Tent Theatre, Shuji Terayama’s film and theater work, and the Condors.
Later in 1999, the project expanded to include a dance network, involving Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Melbourne or Sydney, and later Seoul joined. Each year, a curator/presenter of each city made a recommendation of a solo artist, and one curator takes responsibility—in rotation in each year—for making a showcase production by providing a lighting designer. The curator also takes responsibility for organizing an international tour by providing a tour manager to have the production travel to each of the participating cities. Akiko Kitamura, Aki Nagatani, Kaiji Moriyama, Shigemi Kitamura and Mizutake Kasai were among the participating artists in the past.
In 2004, participating artists from each city spent three weeks together in Taipei and collaborated to create one piece. Since they enjoyed that experience so much, the artists have kept in communication with each other and, as a result, the artist from Melbourne has gotten a grant to enable all the artists to get together again to further pursue the collaboration next spring for three weeks. That new work to be created during this residency is scheduled to tour, starting in Melbourne, then Hong Kong, and then coming here to our Experimental Theater. This is one of the kinds of things that are happening.

How about Japan?
Hum. I don’t know why we have not done Japan. I think Japan would be really interesting. Actually the Novel Hall, which has 930 seats and Cloud Gate’s founder/choreographer Lin Hwai-Min serves as Artistic Director, has a dance series called Novel Dance. They must have had a Japan year before, with Leni-Basso and dump type. Anyway, Japan is very interesting—but I also have an impression that Japanese productions are very expensive?

Today they are more conscious about preparing for the possibility of touring abroad so that the cost for foreign presenters would not be so outrageous than it used to be.
If we can settle all the cost, we should think about featuring the Japanese productions.
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