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The 7th Taishin Arts Award Performing Art Nominee

Shakespeare's Wild Sisters Group: Hsu Yen-Ling × Sylvia Plath

Shakespeare's Wild Sisters Group's (SWSG) play "Hsu Yen-Ling × Sylvia Plath" performed at Taipei National University of the Arts on April 17, 2008, features actress Yen-Ling HSU. Here, the director of the play, Baboo Liao, discusses his love of literature and the theatre.

Most of my inspiration comes from reading, mainly from reading the classics in literature: Borges, Kundera, Márquez. The way Milan Kundera talks about sympathy, is how I rewrite literary works. It's my passion. I try to transform my feelings sensitively from the readings to the audience so they can feel the reality of the author's world. At the beginning of a new production, I do tons of reading and then all the words and lines transform into the vocabularies on stage. These words also transform into images as well as movements, voices and blockings

Previously, I had worked with the playwright Men-Non CHOU on the One Hundred Years of Solitude production and she brought up the idea of working with a female author, specifically Sylvia Plath. So, then there came the long way of trying to understand Sylvia Plath by devouring everything she had written and was written about her. Reading her works made me wonder: why do I do creative works? If one can get by with what one has, why bother doing creative works? What I'm saying is that the incompleteness of one's state of mind will reflect itself to one's creative works. How does that become the desire of doing creative works? What would I become when there is a flash of inspiration? Which would result in the question of why I am who I am? What do I have to do with the creative works? How hypocritical would I become because of the passion for the creation? These are all questions without answers that aroused me when I read the works of Plath.

I have no typical process of working. Most of my works are adaptations from literature. Both Ms. Chou and I don't think it is necessary to be truthful to the original work. For example in our Plath production, there is only monologue and I had to concentrate on the delivery of the text. The actress, Ms. Yen-Ling Hsu, is very experienced and good at voices, which allowed me to focus more on the stage blocking and the movements.

The dance part by Mr. Xiao-Xion CHANG, choreographed by Mr. Chu-Yi CHOU, was trying to visualize to language and show the contradiction of Plath's characters. I wish for the audience to be able to feel whatever they feel, especially something sensational, because that’s what I feel about the theatre and the poetry works of Plath.

In this Taishin-nominated work I wanted to highlight the expertise of the actress. She sings, hums, murmurs, talks and babbles creating amplified sounds that juxtapose languages and words. I wanted the audience to not only focus on her crying, laughing, or acting, but to notice theatre techniques which were aided by several video cameras set on the wall, ceiling and floor to provide disparate viewpoints.

As a director I also rediscover what I have as "tools." However, there is always a sense of regret whenever a decision is made, because we feel uncomfortable when things are done too easily. The uncertainty of the process makes us wanting to find more.

------As told to Susan Kendzulak

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