Modern Kunqu Experimental Theater “Talking With” 《聽我細訴》
July 1, 2022 @ 12:00 am - May 31, 2023 @ 12:00 am
Video Clips (with CC) Talking With 聽我細訴
Presented by: Springtime Theatre Workshop
About Talking With《聽我細訴》
This production is adapted from Talking With…by US playwright Jane Martin, which premiered at the 1982 Humana Festival of New American Plays, an annual event organized by the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky. Afterwards, it showed at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York in the same year and has since then been performed around the world. Talking With… is the winner of the 1982 American Theatre Critics New Play Award and the Best Foreign Play of the Year Award from Theater Heute magazine in Germany.
The play is composed of eleven episodes, each featuring a different woman covering a wide spectrum of age who talks about her life in a monologue. Their life stories reveal their personal ordeals. Some of them are strange, some are bizarre, and some are funny but they are all very touching and even intensely emotional. This production selects and reproduces five episodes without cultural barriers in the original play: “Clear Glass Marbles”, “Marks”, “Lamps”, “Scraps” and “Fifteen Minutes”.
Furthermore, the female character in “Fifteen Minutes” is transformed into a male “Dan” (a female character played by an actor), but the original title and part of the content are retained, aiming to introduce the characteristics of the special profession in Chinese classical theater. In addition, this production also includes a new creation, “Taken Alive” inspired by a tragic love affair in Taiwan.
Notes on the Production
In the form of ancient artistic Kunqu theater, this production features modern subject matters to reflect the time and expand the repertoire on the one hand as well as to engage in experimenting and innovating the performing style and format on the other. Traditional Chinese classical theater features a unique artistic style in the performing pattern that integrates singing, reciting, acting and martial arts performing.
Among all different types of traditional theater, Kunqu theater attracted numerous cultural elites to devote themselves to creating new plays during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and therefore illustrates particular artistic charms with in-depth and profuse cultural foundation. However, like other types of Chinese traditional theater, modern Kunqu theater also encounters the issue of “modernization”. It is necessary to incorporate modern cultural elements and to weed through the old and bring forth the new in order to attract more audiences. In terms of subject matters, modern adaptations for the traditional theater often derive from ancient stories to allude to the contemporary society and also follow the traditional performing pattern.
Since Kunqu theater has once borne the thoughts and emotions of people in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it should naturally continue to bear the thoughts and emotions of people in our time. Talking With features not only modern cultural elements but also rich literariness and subtlety in characterization that is consistent with the scripts of traditional Kunqq. It is also one of the intentions to perform western plays in the form of Kunqu.
Looking back at the history of theaters in both the east and the west, new dramatic contents always call for new performing formats. The main experimenting point in this production is to call for new styles and techniques in the performing art of Kunqu, which is harmonious and unified with the modern texts.
About Springtime Theatre Workshop
Founded in 2017, Springtime Theatre Workshop is composed of senior theater professionals in Taiwan and dedicated to producing, performing and promoting the art of Kunqu theater. The name of the company stems from a line at the scene of “Wandering in the Garden” in Peony Pavilion by TANG Xianzu, describing the beautiful scene in the springtime, which symbolizes the company’s goal to inject contemporary breath and vitality into traditional theater and drama.