Taiwan Fun Magazine, February 2003

Edge Feature :

By Ken Lin, translated by Annie Chen and Matthew Godsey

Thalie Theatre Company
Contact Anne at thalietheatre@yahoo.com.tw

With Taipei rapidly finding its place on the international stage, the city has also seen a huge influx of foreigners. Some are here to learn Chinese; others teach English. In between these two groups are others who are neither seen nor heard. These people just keep their heads down and work earnestly with their very special talents. They not only contribute to Taiwan¡¦s cultural development--many seem to have found their forte here. This place has given them the opportunity to prove their worth and cultivate their niche. They add sparkle to otherwise dim and under-nourished art and literary circles.

Icelander Daniel Ingi Petursson is a good example. Passionate about the theatre, Daniel went to the Ecole Jacque Lecog and Ecole Philippe Gaulier art schools in Paris to study theatre. He has researched theatre works as well as acted on stage in both London and Paris.

¡@¡@In 1993, Daniel founded Thalie Theatre Company in London, and when he set foot in Taiwan in 1995 and decided to make his home here, he brought with him Thalie Theatre Company.

¡@¡@Thalie is the first English theatre company in Taiwan. Since the production of Chekov's "Bear" in 1997, the company has put on three or more productions every year. At least 15 productions have been performed in small theatres, cafes, bars and clubs. Among them are Strindberg's "Miss Julie" in 1999, Oscar Wilde's "Salom" in 2000, Tennesse Williams' "A Streetcar named Desire" in 2000, Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" in 2002 and F.G. Lorca's "Blood Wedding,¡¨ also last year.

¡@¡@Thalie's modus operandi is based on a small theatre concept. All the actors have full-time jobs, but their passion to perform has brought them to Thalie. The company receives no support from the government, and is constantly struggling to stay afloat. Not only do they lack a regular place for rehearsals, there are also problems with many of the foreign actors coming and going from Taiwan. The latter trend does, however, provide the company with a constant trickle of new talent.

¡@¡@This English performance group has, in the last year or so, set up what they term ¡§performance workshops.¡¨ These have attracted an increasing number of locals. Each workshop lasts seven weeks; during the final week, students are required to put on their own performances based on what they have learnt. These workshops not only help fund the company, but also provide opportunities to scout for new blood (the course costs NT$2000 per person; students are entitled to concessionary rates).

¡@¡@"Language is not a barrier," Daniel insists. In his workshops, students are taught to forget about all things mainstream and regimental, and let their minds listen to their bodies. Knowledge is not required to excel in performance art. Training includes breathing exercises, concentration training, body development, and mime techniques, as well as how to incorporate animals and the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth) into performances. Students are taught how to use their bodies to interact with passive objects and do a dance with "them." Sounds like a lot of fun? You bet.

¡@¡@There will be a Thalie workshop in February, and Martin Crimp's "Getting Attention" will be performed in June. All nationalities are welcome to take part. For information, contact Anne at