Taiwan’s New Landmark &
Asia’s Most Important Cultural Development of 2022,
TAIPEI PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, Designed by OMA,
Is Officially Open
At a ceremony this afternoon, the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, inaugurated Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC), considered Asia’s most important cultural development in 2022 and a new landmark for Taiwan’s capital city. Attended by dignitaries including TPAC’s chairman Liu Ruo-yu, CEO Austin Wang and the architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the ceremony was immediately followed by an opening concert featuring the world premiere of Taiwanese composer Nan-Chang Chien’s Symphony No. 5 ‘Taipei’ performed by the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.
Commissioned by the Taipei City Government to foster the development of the arts, the Taipei Performing Arts Center has been designed by a global team of the renowned architecture practice OMA, led by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, in collaboration with local architecture firm KRIS YAO | ARTECH, engineering company Arup and landscape, interior and curtain designer Inside Outside.
With an inaugural season of 37 productions and 142 performances, the spectacular new landmark of Taiwan’s capital city will become the epicenter of the island’s vibrant contemporary culture where no subject matter and technical demand is off limits. The monumental 59,000-square-meter complex floats above the bustle of Taipei’s famous Shilin Night Market, renowned for its street life and as an international foodie destination.
Liu Ruo-yu, Chairman of TPAC, said, ‘The opening of Taipei Performing Arts Center is the most exciting and inspirational cultural event in Taiwan in recent years. From top to bottom, inside and outside, we are eager to offer every space for artists to realise their potential. We will also offer artists resources and expertise, including technical and promotional support, enabling young artists to mature and facilitating established artists to create their masterworks for the next generation.’
Austin Wang, CEO of TPAC, said, ‘Taipei is the most open and free metropolis in the Chinese speaking world, where artists can create without concern for censorship. With freedom of expression as its foundation, Taipei Performing Arts Center has a mission to champion the multiplicity of voices in Taiwan. In our opening season we present master artists, mavericks as well as a children’s festival where family across generations can experience the infinite variety of performing arts. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, we have been able to collaborate with artists from the UK, France, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Spain and Thailand – presenting theatre, dance, musicals, operas, symphonies, multi-media works and performance art. This body of work is a testament to the tenacity of Taiwanese artists and the technical prowess of the Center.’
Rem Koolhaas, OMA Founding Partner, said, ‘When we first visited Taipei for the competition, we felt it was a city with an appetite for experiment. This building is a response to that discovery. We put three traditional theatres together in a way that offers theatre makers completely new opportunities to conceive spectacles and performances. We are proud to be part of the effort to realize the performing arts center, which became possible only with the knowledge, creativity, and perseverance of city, collaborators and architects.’
David Gianotten, OMA Managing Partner – Architect, said, ‘It is extremely rewarding to see cultural creatives, audiences and visitors using the building both as we envisioned and in unexpected ways. The theatre culture and the vibrant street culture coexist in this public building and around the site. For us, this mix of cultures aptly captures the energy of Taipei, a city always open to changes.’
Taipei Performing Arts Center comprises three theaters around a central cube that invites the city’s street life on site. The spherical 800-seat proscenium theater, Globe Playhouse, resembles a planet docking against the cube. Grand Theater is a 1500-seat space for a wide variety of performing arts. Opposite and on the same level is the 800-seat multiform theater, Blue Box, for the most experimental presentations. When brought together, the two theaters become the 2,300-seat Super Theater, a massive performance space. Equipped with facilities to meet the most challenging pyrotechnical demands of contemporary theater, the spaces have been specially designed to offer new theatrical opportunities.
The general public, with or without a ticket, is invited into the center through a public loop that runs through the theater’s infrastructure and production spaces often hidden from view. Portal windows along the loop allow visitors to peer into performances and technical spaces between the theaters.
In an ambitious opening season, the 37 unveiled productions utilise all three auditoria, the Super Theatre, five additional non-theatrical spaces as well as venues off site. Highlights of the programme include:
- Winner of a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the distinguished Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming-liang directs ‘The Monk from Tang Dynasty’ – recreating the spiritual journey of a pilgrimage 1,400 years ago by the most famous monk in Chinese history.
- Hong Kong theater maker Vee Leong’s ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ uses Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ as a starting point to tell the story of ‘father’ and her personal quest for freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
- For TPAC’s Super Theater, avant-garde Taiwanese artist Hsieh Chun-Te creates ‘Nexen’ – a dystopian, dramatic and allegorical fable that immerses the audience in a multi-dimensional visual space bathed in floating light and superimposed images.
- Formosa Circus Art and Taipei Male Choir present ‘Da Vinci’s Notebook’, a zany theatrical work that dismantles then reassembles expectations of the circus and choral experience.
- ‘IsLand Bar – Ratava’ is a new audience participatory work – a collaboration between theater makers in Taiwan, Myanmar, Vietnam and New Zealand.
- Inspired by American novelist Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction ‘Parable of the Sower,’ Spanish choreographer Marina Mascarell creates a new work for the Taiwanese contemporary dance company Dance Forum Taipei. A co-commission by TPAC, Mercat de les Flors in Spain and Korzo Theater in the Netherlands, ‘Orthopedica corporatio’ will see dancers invite audiences onto a stage scattered with pipes, strings, bamboo stalks and wrinkled corrugated fiberboard.
- Choreographer Bulareyaung from the Paiwan tribe of Taiwan premieres ‘Rustling, Whirring’ – inspired by traditional Atayal music and dance deep in the mountains of Taiwan.
- French choreographer Xavier Le Roy brings his signature works ‘Self Unfinished’, ‘Product of Circumstances’ and a world premiere ‘Still (Life) in Taipei’.
- Founded in 1929, the flagship traditional Taiwanese opera company Ming Hwa Yuan presents the grand finale of its ‘The 8 Immortals of Peng Lei’ series. With customary sumptuous costumes and stage sets, ‘ZhongLi of Han’ tells the story of an army general’s journey to become an Immoral.
- Over three consecutive days, Peking Opera superstar Wei Hai-min presents ‘Fusion Blossom from Mei Lan-Fang’, bringing together classics in the repertoire including ‘Farewell, My Concubine’, ‘Dream of Madame Yu’, ‘Birth of the Luo Goddess’ among others.
- Headlined by Sangpuy from Taiwan’s Pinuyumayan tribe, ‘A Thousand Sounds Toward Dawn’ is an audio-visual spectacular that layers indigenous ancient ballads, original contemporary percussion and multi-media.
- Film maker Tun-ye Chou’s Gazing, In the Mist is a VR/theater fusion experience that invites audiences into a male sauna, as the unspeakable desires and loneliness of gay culture evaporate into steam…