Good news for theater lovers, you may have visited a Broadway show in New York or a musical in the west-end of London, well now you can enjoy the stage in Taipei too. Groups of English speaking expat actors, directors and producers are introducing some amazing live performances. Back in Shakespeare’s day at the Globe, audiences would participate by making a lot of noise at the Bard’s staged events. It was simple fun. Now you too can do just the same, even in costume at the Rocky Horror’ show in Shing-men ding on Saturday May 4th.
It’s Just a Jump to the Left…
Although it is traditionally more popular in the West, many people in Taiwan have heard of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS). This was a comedy musical horror film by 20th Century Fox in 1975. It was produced by Lou Adler and Michael White. Jim Sharman was the director. The screenplay was written by Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien, who was also an actor in the film. Other cast members included Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn, “Little” Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams, and Meatloaf. Charles Gray starred as the criminologist and narrated the movie. The film is based on the 1973 musical stage production of the same name, with book and lyrics by O’Brien. It is commonly seen as a parody tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the 1930s through the early 1960s.
The main story centers on a young couple, newly engaged, whose car breaks down in a thunderstorm. They seek help at a nearby castle. The castle is full of strange people in elaborate costumes, there to celebrate an annual convention. Their host and the master of the house is one Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparent mad scientist who turns out to be an alien transvestite. He is creating a living man in his laboratory as a companion. The couple are seduced separately by the mad scientist before eventually being released when the servants rebel and take control. Sound crazy? It is!
Although the movie received very bad critical comment on release, it very soon became known as a midnight movie. Audiences began to dress up in costume when attending the show at the Waverly Theater in New York in 1976. Audience participation became common, with audience members calling lines back to the screen and actively participating in the film. Audience members began attending again and again and the movie gained a cult following. Some fans in Pittsburgh at the King’s Court Theater began to dress in costumes identical to those in the film and acting it out, lip-syncing their characters lines. This live drama reenactment as the film was playing became known as “shadowcasting.”
RHPS has become more than a movie, though. To many people, it has become a safe space where they can indulge and participate in dancing, singing, acting, and dressing up. It provides a space where self-expression is encouraged and protected. The film creates its own society, albeit briefly, where the audience can relax and step out of their normal day-to-day lives. The film is inclusive of a broad range of progressive ideas such as homosexuality, gender ambiguity, and sex in general. This has contributed to the fantastic reception the film still enjoys worldwide. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has played continuously in theater since 1975—that’s 42 years and going strong!
In 2015, the Shadowcast Group Time Warp Taiwan was formed. Taking their name from the most popular song in the movie, the group set about making costumes and learning the parts of the various actors. Some of the cast members had experience with this before, while others were brand new to the idea. Some had never even seen the movie before! The group had incredibly strong leadership and performed their first show to an enthusiastic audience in Taipei. Since then, they have performed multiple times, getting better and better at what they do. Some cast members have left, and others have joined over the years, but the core leadership has remained the same passionate people who have kept the continuity going and the training up to date for new cast members.
Their show is amazing and the attention to detail is fanatical. The experience of being in the audience is amazing and participating and shouting lines back is encouraged. It is a very different experience from a normal movie! Their next show is in Taipei on May 4, 2019. This will also tie in with International Star Wars Day, another annual day for costume makers and cosplayers to enjoy. Expect some crossover between these two cult classics in what is sure to be an amazing evening! You can find more details on the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/timewarptaiwan/ by Etienne Maré a.k.a. Eddie/Dr. Scott
There are also other production groups too often showing at various places around the city such as the Red Room. Here is an introduction to who is who in the stage world of Taipei drama.
Actors / Actress
From the UK, Charlie has lived in Taipei since 2005, working in radio and online media. In 2016 he acted in the Lab Space’s productions lves’ Shorts and The Boom-Itty of Errors. His last stage appearance was in Infinity Key’s production of the mystery play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. Charlie has performed standup and improv comedy in Taipei and now plays bass with his rock band Fuzzy Wall.
John Brownlie, a British expat, is excited to produce Taipei Shorts in collaboration with Red Room to promote and showcase the works of local writers and talent. He started acting from an early age and was soon accepted into a high school performing arts program, where he continued to train and develop his skills, John became involved in his local theatre company where stage managed East Lynne and Blithe Spirit, did sound for Dial M for Murder and Little Voice and took to the stage in The Magistrate, Naked Justice, Our Day Out, and Much Ado About Nothing.
He then attended Leeds University to continue his education in acting. There he devised, wrote, and performed in several productions over a variety of different genres and styles. Graduating with a BA I Acting he formed Daft Mattress, where he co-wrote, directed, performed and toured with several productions. In 2009 he left the UK and spent thd in Taiwan, he was a long standing member at the Lab Space, attending Brook Hall’s acting classes, performing in Sylvia, Wait Until Dark, the Taipei 24 hour theatre festivals, male swing for The Diary of Anne Frank and most recently Tape.
Since moving to Taiwan 3 years ago, Sharon Landon has performed in stage productions and several short films. Her most recent project was a pilot for a VR Series that premiered at the 2018 Kaohsiung Film Festival and a selection at the 2019 Sundance Festival. Sharon’s Prior acting experience includes stage productions in Maryland; TV commercials and short films in Hawaii. She loves the challenges of acting and enjoys exploring and expanding her acting skills in English as well as Mandarin. She is excited about the future and what 2019 will bring!
Pat Woods hails from Nottingham, UK, and moved to Taiwan in 2008 for an adventure that turned into a lifetime commitment. He got into acting at school and was part of a local theatre group and an improvisation group in the UK. In Taiwan, he’s performed with the Taipei and Taichung improv groups. With R4, and in various other shows. Pat is also a writer with 11 published short stories (so far) and helps run the Taipei Writers’ Group.
James Lo is honored to be working on stage with director Andrew Chau for the third time. This is also Lo’s second collaboration with actor Charlie Storarr. The pair had previously worked with the director in the English stage production of “Ives’s Shorts.” Where the pair was forced to produce words very swiftly as chimps. Lo is an actor and stunt performer who predominantly works in local screen productions.
Sarah Brooks is thrilled to be a part of “Taipei Shorts 2019,” along with so many talented writers, directors, and actors. She is a long-time resident of Taipei, where she has been active for some years in the English theater community. She has performed in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Sylvia” at the Lab Space, and also worked with Red Room Radio Redux, appearing in the key roles in many of its major productions, both live and on ICRT. She teaches in the English department of Taiwan Tech University, where he courses include Readers Theater and Drama, and also directors the department’s annual theater productions. She feels most indebted to Brook Hall, whose tremendous efforts have created so many opportunities for so many of us theater peeps in Taipei: Having a pro who believes in you makes all the difference. She also wants to thank T&T&T for all their love an their support of her theater passions.
Erin Clark is taking the stage for the first time in Taipei, Erin, a relative latecomer to stage and particularly so screen acting, is a recent graduate of NTU, where she earned a master of arts in the utterly unrelated field of political science. She now works as a screen actor appearing most recently in “Green Door” with Jam Hsiao; and as a freelance translator. She spends a large part of the remainder of her time on her bikes, Scout and Blue Bunny, enjoying the outdoors. First and foremost, she thanks God for this opportunity. She would also like to express her great appreciation to all the actors and directors and instructors she’s met at the LAB Space and beyond for challenging and encouraging her.
Brian Foden, originally from Vancouver, Canada, Brian Foden has been a regular fixture of the popular acting classes held by Brook Hall over the past few years. He has appeared in a variety of commercials and productions during the many year he has been in Taiwan, including the absurdist tragic farce The Chairs, written by Eugene Ionesco and staged by Thalie Theater in Taiwan.
Previously, he also played in a number of comic roles in children’s plays put on by the Ladder Theater, performances that toured in Taiwan’s three largest cities. Brian is also an experienced voice actor, having taken professional workshops in Vancouver and worked I Taiwan voicing characters for video games, cartoons, and other films.
WRITER / DIRECTOR – Albert, Alex, Alice and the inversion
Barry Hall is a playwright, director and actor. His plays are published and have been widely produced on four continents, though this is the first production of his work in Taiwan. As an actor, he most recently appeared in Butterfly Effect’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank. He is also a photographer; his current photo project, “Words, Words, Words” will (hopefully) be completed this spring. He holds an MFA in theater from Sarah Lawrence College and has received fellowships from the Japan Foundation and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. He presently lives in Taiwan with his two exhausting, maddening, delightful sons.
Anton Botes is a South African born media composer and sound designer who has made Taiwan his home for the last 17 years. He has a recording studio near Hsinchu, where he composes music for films, various shows, radio programs, and other media projects. Acton created music and sound design for seen of the shows at The Lab Theater from 2015-2018, including the thriller ‘Wait Until Dark” and the hugely popular “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Some other recent works include a corporate video for Tutor ABC, as well as the short film "Silent Dreams of Taipei”, which won the Best Music Award at the 48 Hour Film Festival.
Shashwati Talukdar is a filmmaker. A background in Theatre and Fine Arts led her to an MFA in film from Temple University, United States. She makes documentary, fiction, and experimental films that have been screened all over the world.
Rick Mondy came to Taiwan to work at ICRT radio in 1985 and never left. He is the only non-Taiwanee radio announcer to win the Taiwan Government’s Golden Bell radio award and now works for the Taiwan Government as a consultant. Rick has a MFA in screenwriting from National University and a Certificate in TV and Film Writing from UCLA.
Chris Lanning Originally from Vancouver, Canada Chris has been writing an helping sreenwriters improe their craft for over 20 years. Early in his career he had the good fortune of co-writing The Untold starring Lance Henricksen (Aliens, 1986; Terminator 1984) and Erica Durance (Smallville, 2004 – 2011). This is his first time writing for the theatre and directing.