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Heat across the Straits (2)

By Zhang Zihan (Global Times)

09:46, August 31, 2012

But there's more to Taiwanese dramas than merely political parodies. They are also known for versatility in presenting different themes and experimental performances. Stan Lai's Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land is arguably the most famous Taiwanese drama for its combination of comedy and romance, creating a hilarious yet sorrowful atmosphere. Meanwhile, after watching Tuesdays with Morrie, many Chinese mainland audience members were surprised that a drama with a cast of only two could span longer than two hours, yet remain gripping throughout.

The Little Theater Movement in Taiwan in the 1960s cultivated the experimental spirit deeply in the local drama scene, delivering a boost to non-commercial theater productions and performances from schools. During this period, many little theaters received funding, which backed up their exploration in new art possibilities.

Although Taiwanese stage dramas are popular on the Chinese mainland, it's current situation is "beyond perfect," according to Liu Liang-yen, a 33-year-old Taiwanese playwright from the troupe Theater Company of Lee Qing Zhao the Private.

"The social responsibility of Taiwanese drama is draining. It's no longer focused on social issues compared to 10 years ago, and people are increasingly shifting their focus to money," Liu said, blaming the Taiwanese government for misdirecting dramatists.

"The little theaters are subsidized, yet they have to follow what they are told. Therefore, many are encouraged to produce commercial plays and subsequently neglect social issues and experimental theater. In stark contrast, bigger drama troupes founded decades ago like Comedians Workshop still stick to these traditions.

"It seems that Taiwanese stage dramas are going in the wrong direction. The big troupes should be the ones finding commercial modes for drama, while the little theaters should use the official funding for experimentation," said Liu.

Liu stressed drama was for people who "have an opinion to express, a passion to speak, and a responsibility to take," urging troupes from both sides of the Taiwan Straits to adhere by these values.

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