Performance Workshop Theatre

Performance Workshop Theatre
(Biaoyian guangzuofang)
The Performance Workshop Theatre was one of the most important Little Theatre groups in the mid 1980s and later developed into the leading theatre company in Taiwan. The Performance Workshop was founded in 1984 by Lai Shengchuan (Stan Lai) who was, and is, the major playwright and artistic director. Lai himself is an innovative stage and screen director, as well as a playwright and theatre professor. He received his PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley in 1983 and currently is the dean of the Theatre School at the Taipei National University of the Arts.
The distinguishing features of the Performance Workshop’s work are methods of collective improvisation method, a satiric/comedic style and political subject matter. Their first work, The Night We Became Hsiang-Sheng Comedians (Nayiye, women shou xiangsheng, 1985), successfully integrated collective improvisational methods learned from the West, the traditional Chinese performing art form of xiangsheng (cross-talk or comic dialogue) and contemporary Taiwan/China political subject matter. The production was a great success, and not only succeeded in reviving xiangsheng but brought new audiences to Taiwan theatre.
The Performance Workshop later developed a series of xiangsheng in repertoire, including: Look Who’s Cross-talking Tonight (Zheyiye, shuilai shou xiangsheng? 1989), The Complete History of Chinese Thought (Youyiye, tamen shou xiangsheng, 1997) and Millennium Teahouse (Qianxiye, women shou xiangsheng, 2000). As well as in-house productions, the Performance Workshop also introduced numerous contemporary Western plays into Taiwan, such as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part I (1996), Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1995) and Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay (1998). Other works include Secret Love for the Peach Blossom Spring (1986/1991/1999) and Red Sky (1994). In 2000, the Performance Workshop established OFF PW as a platform for young directors, as well as Stan Lai himself, to stage alternative and experimental works. The Performance Workshop is the only Taiwanese theatre group with a branch in China which has regularly performed there for several years. Their works have proved to be well received by young Chinese people.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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