Words by Artistic Director- 2024 NTT Arts NOVA


It's About TIME


Last spring, the National Taichung Theater launched a new annual series entitled Arts NOVA. As we embark on the new year, we aim to bring our audiences refreshing perspectives and original inspiration.


For this year, we have selected “time” as our point of entry. Theater is an art of time, taking us on a journey from past to present, compressing years and months, sometimes even breaking free of chronological constraints, allowing us to dream, to imagine, to engage in whimsical dialogue with different dimensions.


Life is mortal. In the end, none of us can escape death. Hence any discourse on “time” always carries with it a tinge of anxiety. All right. Good night. takes us on the doomed Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared from the radar in 2014 after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. The fate of more than 200 passengers has since become a mystery. Even now, doubts abound about whether they really perished. Helgard Haug, Director of the play, draws comparisons and parallels between this disaster and  his father suffering from dementia. Memories accumulated through the decades randomly appear and vanish with no rhyme or reason. Is he still the beloved patriarch or a stranger in the family?


Everyone's face carries some features of his or her parents. In Propositions on Disappearance III, dancer YU Yen-fang searches for her late father by imitating his words, his gestures and the way he spoke in the seal engraving shop where he used to work. This exploration for memories “that once were there” is akin to a ritual of remembrance, a transformative process that turns them into something tangible.


NTT Artists-in-Residence CHEN Wu-kang continues to focus his attention on Southeast Asia. Touched by the stories of immigrant families dealing with the death of loved ones, accidents happening in faraway lands and the demise of customs and rituals, Dance a Dance to Remember derives from field research conducted at Taichung's ASEAN Square. It is a ritual of memory built upon collected stories about death.


Although Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away at the end of March 2023, his music survives in a fantastic Noh play. Based on Natsume SOSEKI's Ten Nights of Dreams, TIME features a man who guards his wife's tomb day and night. She promised to return after a hundred years, and as he dreams, he loses his sense of time. One day, a white lily grows out of the tombstone. Only then does he realize that a hundred years have indeed passed.


Perhaps a hundred years pass by in the timespan of a flower blooming?


“Death is like a shadow always following us, reminding us that we're alive.” Belgium's Still Life specializes in black humor repackaging discomforting topics such as death. Flesh portrays moments in ordinary life as they go dramatically awry, puncturing our false pretense of romance and pathos as well as our illusions about love, casting our view of the world differently.


We cannot foretell everything in our finite existence. We trust our instincts, astrological predictions or wisdom of ancient forebears; we perceive with our own eyes. However, audio-visual artist WU Ping-sheng attempts to break through conventional sensory experience. The Boundary of Sense deprives us of theatrical givens: in an environment lacking in light and sound, he lets Artificial Intelligence (AI) replicate human skills in seeing and hearing. In the process, he redefines how audience's sensory organs operate and function.


The duo Adrien M and Claire B are adept at engendering multiplicity on stage. As a dancer moves inside a translucent cube, projected 3D images swirl around, generated in real-time by a computer triggered by her movement. In addition, musicians of the band Limousine fuse jazz and rock’n’roll, improvising with everything that transpires. Équinoxe creates spellbinding moments with constantly evolving images and projections, akin to our marveling over the magic hours of dawn and dusk.


Sucks in the Middle is created by HUNG Wei-yao, renowned for his immersive theatrical ventures. Audience members are invited to wander through a gap in time and space to explore different eras, encountering others facing similar predicaments. While searching for the past, they face anxiety about the future. This work encapsulates the heightened anguish and despair of the Taiwanese generation between ages 30 and 40 who are “stuck in the middle.”


No matter what type of a future we choose for ourselves, we are fully aware that the passage of time is the price we pay, which is why humans have long been fascinated with the concept of infinity. “We're all rats in a wheel, conditioned by our instincts to engage in endless pursuit.”  Artist Max Cooper's Live 3D AudioVisual employs extravagant and grand electronic soundscapes with gorgeous visuals that blanket the entire theater, addressing such wide-ranging and unending questions posed by the Kabbalah in Judaism, Cantor's theorem of transfinite numbers and visual perspectives in art in search of a place for our limited lives in this universe.


Does technology still represent the future? Laser lights were once considered avant-garde, imbued with the ice-cold quality of industrialization. New Media artist Aka CHANG takes inspiration from singer-songwriter Ze' HWANG for the work December Nite. In this work, warmth and poetry coexists inside a 3D light and sound structure that intricately connects space and sound in the human realm. Inspired by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós, Cloud Gate Artistic Director CHENG Tsung-lung's Lunar Halo presents a huge LED wall at the forefront of technological advancement, but with images infused with primordial and ferocious energy.


Theater is mesmerizing because when we are inside, our sense of time dissolves. When we walk through the door, we forget about our own mundane concerns. It's time! Let's make our way to the NTT and enjoy this year's Arts NOVA. 


—Joyce Chiou, General and Artistic Director