From the Editor, Red Room Reflections, December 2017

by Ruth Giordano

Some time ago, a Red Room intern named Leah decided to survey some of the regular Stage Time & Wine performers. She asked them to write about their favorite Red Room memory. I’ve pulled two from the stack to share with you, here:

From Trevor Trebotski:

“In the summer of 2015, Apelles Johnson was scheduled to return to the United States. Apelles, also remembered by his stage name, Otis, was a close friend of mine – and of Red Room. I remember him saying on his final night ‘A poet speaks the truth; not what people want to hear.

We echoed his words and heard him speak the rest both calmly and passionately, in shouts and whispers. He made us think. He made us feel. As a poet who has contributed several poems-turned-performances to Red Room evenings throughout his time in Taiwan, he is one of the many who have taught us that we ARE Red Room.

By listening, we show respect, and with respect we create the power of the stage – a place where all of us
are welcome, nay, ENCOURAGED
to speak our minds. With this power comes the burden of accountability, of course, and vulnerability to judgement – it is true that we need to respect the audience as much as they respect us.
Over the years Red Room has showed me that our fears are small potatoes compared to putting ourselves onstage. If we can make people feel, if we can be REAL, even for a moment, by giving form to our creativity then we have achieved something. A poet speaks the truth – and sometimes we do want to hear it. That’s what I’ll remember.”

“…the time [Red Room had] people write their thoughts on paper. That was my best Red Room moment. True story.
I love that [Red Room] offered the audience a part in the conversation. The idea of Red Room, for me, is community and an ongoing conversation.
Paper and pencil for the audience is when sh*t got real.”

Stage Time and Wine XCIV 紅緣寄詩酒 94

By Jessie

Musings from my first Stage Time and Wine

Sipping red wine whilst enjoying some quality stage time; what better way to spend a Saturday winter’s evening? These were my thoughts as I wandered across the ex-military base on my way to my first Stage Time and Wine.
My first surprise as I stepped into the Red Room was the impact of the space itself. It certainly wasn’t like walking into a theatre or art gallery; in the Red Room art and space are integrated to become one and the same. The furniture are sculptures and the walls are one giant canvas. And of course the people, mingling with their wine glasses, are an integral part of this space; they are creators, listeners and open minds.
The second thing which surprised me about Stage Time and Wine was that artists weren’t coming here to perform and the audience wasn’t here to watch a spectacle, but rather people from all walks of life were coming to Red Room to share, connect with each other and be themselves.
My third surprise was how Stage Time and Wine seemed to play with my emotions; I didn’t think it was possible for humans to experience such a mix of emotions in a short space of time. One moment I was almost in tears with laughter, minutes later empathising with a poet’s pain. I felt sorrow, empowerment, awe, inspiration and nostalgia all in the space of one hour!
我本來以為紅坊像劇場一樣, 但是第一次來紅坊參加紅緣寄詩酒我就發現紅坊其實是一件巨大的藝術品! 沒想到一個空間也可以當藝術。家具和牆壁好似雕塑與畫,都使我很驚奇!
還有另外一件事情讓我很吃驚就是參加紅緣寄詩酒的人並不能分成 ‘演奏者’ 和 ‘觀眾’,而他們都是有不同背景的人為了要分享,交友,當正真的自己而來紅坊。

Some of my personal favourite performances

I felt a particular connection to Vanessa Wang’s poem ‘No Seat for Me on the MRT’.
Through metaphors and imagery she gives listeners an insight to her deep state of mind and challenges us to look beyond what our eyes perceive on the outside.
No Seat for Me on the MRT 這首詩給我留下了很深刻的印象。詩人用坐捷運這個比喻來代表眼睛看不到的個人困境和心理掙扎。

Fellow Brit Tommy Hoppers captured the audience’s attention with his ukulele and one hell of a voice!
我們英國朋友 Tommy Hoppers 用他的烏克麗麗和中氣十足的聲音來迷住觀眾。

Red Room’s own Addy, Manav and Vicky experimenting with beat boxing, proving to us all that Stage Time and Wine is the place to try out new things, take risks, and most importantly, the audience will love you no matter what!
Addy, Manav 和 Vicky 試試口技。他們冒風險而十分成功。很好笑, 非常受觀眾歡迎!

View full album here

Bring it on 2018!

By Roma Mehta

Bring it on 2018!

As we enter 2018, the Red Room is making bold moves and we want to share some of these with you. But first, our team of volunteers, interns and partners and well wishers would like to say THANK YOU! You make Red Room possible, with the generous sharing of your time, talent and treasure to build and support this community platform.

Artists, musicians, actors, spoken word artists, painters, sculptors, speakers, writers, what-have-yous: thank you!

Red Room is the pulse of cultural diversity in the city of Taipei. It’s a multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-disciplinary platform – not just for the creators, but also for patrons of art and culture. And now we are ready to spread our wings and spread this goodness to other parts of the Asia Pacific region. We will keep you in the loop as programs develop and share our updates with you.

Please welcome the new Board of Directors for the Red Room Taipei Association. Above you see our members meeting for the Establishment Meeting at the Pamir Law office.

We look forward to sharing more about our new status and plans for 2018 in the coming months.

So, bring it on 2018!

The Red Room Community

ReadAloud December 2017

By Ruth Giordano

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ published his most famous novella: A Christmas Carol at a time when the spirit of the holiday had nearly died in London, England 1843. Mr. Dickens’ felt that some traditions and the spirit of the season were worth salvaging. One of the characters, Fred, says it:
…I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-travelers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

And a visitor to Scrooge’s counting house proclaims:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, Sir.”

Scrooge: “Are there no prisons?”

“Plenty of prisons. But under the impression that they scarcely furnish cheer of mind or body to the unoffending multitude, a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”

In Taipei in 2012, I had the notion to produce a radio drama version of the story of Scrooge and the Ghosts who inspire him to change his miserly ways. I revived the production several times since then with several different casts. I took one set of voice actors to ICRT to make a recording which has played each year since.
A few years later, I was introduced to the Reader’s Edition of A Christmas Carol. It’s a shorter version adapted by Mr. Dickens for him to read aloud to his family and friends at Christmastime.

It was this version that we shared at Red Room in December – and not for the first time.
(I think this was #3 or 4)

Volunteers prepared sweet- and spicy-smelling beverages and snacks. Quiet Christmas-y music played as guests (ten!) gathered to sit comfortably in a circle to share in reading (aloud, of course).

What made this night different from other nights of reading A Christmas Carol at the Red Room? For one thing, most of the guests had never been to the Red Room before – so people were meeting new people in this re-kindling of spirit. And 2) We were ten women! Well, I don’t suppose that’s extraordinary, just amusing. There certainly were lots of laughs going around that circle that night.

Yes, it was the Red Death himself

By Sarah Brooks

Yes, it was the Red Death himself.
He had come like a thief in the night.

(Or, A better-late-than-never Halloween recap)

—from the desk of Sarah B.—

Ah, time—mortality—it all passes so quickly. And quickly the time has passed since our October performance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” We hope it’s within the bounds of taste to offer this very late thank you to all the visitors who joined us at the castle of Prince Prospero for a – shall we say – “fated” Halloween evening.

For those of you who were, alas, not able to be there, here is a review of the evening: The lights are extinguished. Outside, a horrifying plague is devastating the countryside. We hear the bells tolling, see the people hiding their grief behind black veils. But inside the Red Room, or rather inside the castle of the dauntless Prince Prospero (that is, Mr. Pat Woods, channeling Charles I and the Sun King all in one), in an imaginary maze of sensuously embellished rooms, beats life’s heart. Here there is music, there is dancing, there are buffoons and mimes, there are dreams come to life – bizarre and the voluptuous dreams. Fearlessly and wantonly chasing the night away, laughing at the dangers that lurk outside, we find a crowd of the Prince’s fawning courtiers – a dizzy and green-haired Ms. Sharon Landon, an even dizzier and dare-we-say-dissolute Ms. Deni Carson, an alluring and risqué Ms. Antonella Gismundi, a gentleman-in-waiting Mr. Jeremy Bee. And so, the revel goes whirlingly on – the courtiers seduced by their own wild reverie, the orchestra outplaying itself (thanks to sound magician Mr. Anton Botes). And among our Red Room guests at the castle, some have come ready to join the revel, adorned with their own fab costumes: We see a boar-headed Beast, his Beauty flitting around somewhere; another Beast with golden locks and sinister-looking rams’ horns; ah, there’s…could it be… Zorro?; and a Pinocchio-nosed lad; and a young blood-stained, pink-haired gal whose clearly had a rough night; and an array of hand-painted masks (part of the evening’s activities), vampire cloaks, devils’ horns, witches hats. And so, indeed, the revel goes whirlingly on and on and on…UNTIL the shadowy ebony clock enters the scene (a steadfast Mr. Paul Batt, sporting his once-a-year bat(t)-inspired mustache and goatee) and strikes twelve. Oh! We all know what a clock striking 12 means, yes? Horror, of course! This night it is horror in the untenanted form of the Red Death himself. (Or is that the ever-awesome Mr. Addison Eng on his ever-awesome electric bass? And is he dressed in an equally awesome red-and-black cemetery coat created by costumer extraordinaire Ms. Jenna Robinette? And is that the creepiest painted face you’ve ever seen? Ah, NO, don’t be fooled.) Yes, it is the Red Death himself, stalking to and fro among the waltzers, deliberately passing within a yard of the Prince’s person. Courage, man! “Who dares insult us with this mockery?!” the Prince cries out as he draws his dagger. A battle ensues, and though we all know who the winner will be, still, it’s a tense and dramatic moment. The prince is no match for RD. He drops dead in an instant. His courtiers dare to make a rush at the enemy, but they, too, drop like flies… However, thankfully, the Prince’s crowd of guests from the Red Room all escaped, with their costumes intact. And everyone even had time for a few more glasses of wine before heading outside to…well, let’s just say we could no longer guarantee their safety. We wished them all well, and hoped they’d be around next year for another Happy Halloween.
The “Masque of the Red Death,” by Edgar Allan Poe, was performed at the Red Room last Oct. 28 and 31, in a staged Readers Theater style format by a group of dedicated RR regulars, with original music by Anton Botes, directed by Sarah Brooks and Pat Woods. Thank you to everyone at the Red Room and to all our guests for helping to make the evening a success!

Photo albums can be viewed here

Please take a look at a video of our event created by JJ Chen. Here also is a link to the music composed by Anton Botes for our production. Enjoy!

Community News

By Vanessa Wang, Co-Founder of W.A.R.M.

W.A.R.M. is the first women anonymous mental health support group in Taiwan.
Anxiety, depression and other mental health illnesses are often overlooked and stigmatised by society. Co-Founder Vanessa Wang established W.A.R.M. to unite and empower women by creating a safe platform where they can talk about mental health, share stories and offer mutual support. This growing support network is the first of its kind in Taiwan.
The group meets weekly in Taipei and participants can choose to remain anonymous. W.A.R.M. meetings are not “classes” or “therapy” but rather a safe place for women who are struggling in life to share and connect with each other, without any pressure, judgement or expectations.

“ Within our growing support network, we see how women unite and empower each other. As women, we have the guts to be vulnerable, and by being vulnerable, exchanging life experiences, we bond over the similar hardships that we went through. We welcome all ladies with any background to join our support network. You are not alone.”

我們不提供任何形式的“專業治療”,我們並非有心理醫師監督的團體治療,而是一個互助團體。W.A.R.M.會議是一個安全的平台,讓那些在生活中掙扎的婦女們分享和交流,沒有任何壓力或批評。我們正在建立一個支持網絡,透過舉行這些每週的互助會議來鼓勵和給予婦女自信。 在我們日益增長的互助網絡中,我們看到女性如何團結和支持。

W.A.R.M. Facebook group:

Co-Founders: Vanessa Wang   Jenn Crimin