Taiwanese theatre differs from that in Gainesville.
YiChin Chen figured that out after moving to Alachua County in 2021 to study at UF. She began checking out the local theatre scene and found that the people she met were also interested in Taiwanese culture and art, prompting the idea of an artist exchange.
Now, that idea will take to the stage. The exchange will feature two shows and three Taiwanese artists traveling to participate.
The shows will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online for the shows as well as two workshops held on Monday and Tuesday.
Chen started planning the cultural exchange in April after meeting Steven Butler, founder of the Actors’ Warehouse (2512 NE 1st Blvd. Unit 100) and co-curator for the event. Chen also applied for and received a $3,000 grant from the Taiwanese National Culture and Arts Foundation along with a sponsorship from the Amerasia Bank.
“I’m very excited because this is my first time hosting a theatre exchange plan outside of Taiwan,” Chen said.
The shows will happen in Mandarin, and English-speaking visitors are encouraged to simply experience the show.
On Saturday, Ruping Wang, a dancer, will present Ni de Ming Zi which translates to “Your Name.” The dance will revolve around the difference in Mandarin of the character for the regular “you” and the feminine “you.”
ChihHung Shi, an interdisciplinary artist, will also perform at Saturday’s show with “Journey Across River and Mountain.” The title comes from Shi’s home in the Guishan District of Taoyuan City where the Nankan River and Hutou Mountain meet.
Sunday’s show will feature actress YuFang Chuang who will present “Yes, mix Paolyta B.” Paolyta B is a nutrition supplement from 1968 that never became mainstream but is a constant for laborers. The piece explores the situations faced by marginalized groups in Taiwan, according to the show description.
“Drinking Polyta B is drinking an aspiration, an attitude, and a declaration. Drinking Polyta B is to face the unsatisfactory life with humor,” the description says.
The audience can participate in discussions with the artists after their performances to learn more, and two workshops will happen on Monday and Tuesday from 6-10 p.m.
The artists will also hold a show in Orlando on Aug. 27 at the Amerasia Center. No tickets are required for the show, but donations are available.
Chen hopes the cultural exchange can continue, perhaps taking American artists to Taiwan.
“For individual artists, they have fewer chances to go abroad to show their performance even though their topic is very meaningful,” Chen said.