Between February 10 and March 11, the Taiwan Cultural Center in Tokyo and partners attempted to create a new theatrical model in Tokyo. In line with the concepts of Theater Commons Tokyo, this cross-border artistic exchange was part of a cooperation that is now entering its third year.
This year, Taiwan artist Hsu Chia-wei (許家維) created "Black & White — Panda" by working with Japanese comedian Peach for a two-day performance at the Taiwan Cultural Center on March 9 and 10.
The main character of the show was an adorable panda, with the tale telling of how pandas have been part of diplomatic policy both before and since World War II. An exploration of the serious history of "animal diplomacy," the two-day show attracted an audience of over 200 people eager to see Hsu's latest creation.
Hsu explained that he chose a comedic style because he was aware of the traditional use of kyōgen (literally "mad words") in Japanese Noh theater.
Hsu added that wanted to make use of Noh elements to showcase the history of how animals have been used as diplomatic tools and how this can be used as a metaphor for historical changes. At the same time, he also wanted to try and break down the wall between high art and popular art.
Chu Wen-ching (朱文清), director of the Taiwan Cultural Center in Tokyo, said that the joint performance of Hsu and Japanese comedians brought a different approach to artistic interpretation that left a powerful impression.
The center aims to facilitate more artist visits to Japan in the future to help further strengthen mutual understanding between Taiwan and Japan via performance art.
Theater Commons Tokyo brought together the Taiwan Cultural Center in Tokyo with the Japan Arts Commune, Goethe-Institut Japan, Alliance Française, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan for this year's program.