The Well of Words
Memories from ninety-nine Stage Time & Wines
On the 16th June, Red Room will host its 100th Stage Time & Wine. This milestone represents over eight years of events hosted by Red Room, an ever-growing community, and an ever-stronger ‘culture of listening’. If you have been to Red Room before, it is likely you have felt the special kind of energy that resonates from the walls. If you haven’t visited Red Room yet, the 100th Stage Time & Wine may be the perfect opportunity for you to feel it for yourself.
“Stage Time & Wine is a build-your-own event where each participant is invited to contribute to the creation of the evening”
Ayesha Mehta, Red Room Co-founder
Anything can be shared within the Red Room: voices, stories, poems, songs, instruments, dances, ideas, memories, sounds, murmurs, silence. At the heart of Red Room is a ‘culture of listening’, so I believe it would most appropriate if we share the words of others in this article. I have rummaged in the Red Room archives and unearthed memories, personal experiences and voices from ninety-nine Stage Time & Wines.
In the beginning: an idea
Red Room was born from words. It all began with a conversation between Ayesha Mehta and Ping Chu when a fortuitous rainshower caused their paths to cross in Dulan, Taidung in 2009. This conversation planted a seed, which released its roots into the Taipei artistic community and began uniting individuals with a common passion.
“In this web-connected world we live in today, we have stopped practicing deep listening and are losing the human connection on the personal level. We are busy doing, not being. Being allows us to grow and feel the bliss we are all capable of experiencing.”
This is the vision that Ayesha shared with Ping. Her dream of creating a ‘listening space’ was the building block upon which Red Room could grow. Ayesha’s seedling of an idea sparked an interest and inspired others. Before long, a group of friends gathered to plan an event where participants could express themselves freely and listen deeply to each other. Ayesha’s brother, Manav, came up with the name ‘Stage Time & Wine’.
The first Stage Time & Wine took place in the Learning Kitchen. As Roma Mehta described it, the friends “put things together”; they experimented with the space, hung up shawls as stage curtains, created a ‘bar’ through each sharing what they had, and then hoped people would come along to enjoy the evening. Nobody could have predicted that the event would take off in the way it did.
“We didn’t really plan for Red Room to be what it’s become. It’s grown every year. We definitely didn’t know when we were sitting around the table what Red Room would become.” (Charles Haines’ memory of Red Room’s creation)
“The first Stage Time & Wine event was filled with laughter, raucousness, honesty and a room full of strangers entering into intimacy and giving towards each other.” (Ayesha Mehta)
Words of Red Roomers: what does Red Room mean to you?
“It’s the shaky rushy feeling that washes over me when I step up to the microphone.” (Rose Goossen)
“We’ll embrace it, applaud it and dream with it when the night ends.” (Leah List)
“When we were introduced to Red Room, it was like a door opened… to myself.” (Ruth Landowne Giordano)
“The act of sharing my work and listening to others recharged my battery every month.” (Daniel Black)
“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.” (Trevor Trebotski Tortomasi)
“At the core, it is about restoring the lost spoken word and creative expression, sharing, and listening.”
(Ping Chu, Red Room Co-Founder)
“The word artist holds no boundaries, it’s not marked by a mustache or a hat…”
(Extract from a Red Room poem by Manav Mehta)
Constance Woods’ memory of a young woman sharing a love letter at Stage Time and Wine: “A frisson of a moment sparkled through the room.”
Emily Loftis’ memory of painting Ping’s shirt in an interactive stage time performance: “You don’t have to be an artist to understand the simple pleasure of spreading paint over canvas. But there was something more to this experience as well. Ping was doing exactly what Red Room offers everyone who comes through its doors: an invitation to leave your mark.”
Beyond the four walls: Red Room’s social impact
Like a pebble thrown into a pond, Red Room has stirred up a rippling effect across the Taipei artistic community. Conversations happen in the Red Room. We feed off each others’ energy and inspire one another to take our ambitions further. We collaborate, form bands, put on plays, create art together.
“Together we did create a community or a tribe of like minded people who want to participate in something bigger than themselves.”
Red Room has provided a platform for young artists to experiment, find their unique style and put their work out there. “They help promote the young artists who otherwise would probably have difficulties doing so… We support one another. It’s all about contributing to the community.”
Stepping into the Red Room is also the beginning of an individual, internal journey; we are dared to take risks and to be real. “Red Room is mesmerizing. Now I can dream bigger, feel better and aim higher than before.” (Tina Ma)
What surprises will the 100th Stage Time & Wine have instore for us? The Red Room team have an ambitious aim to involve 100 performers for the 100th gathering… and there will surely be 100 glasses of wine to accompany! Gather with us and share this precious moment, cherish the open platform for expression, and add your voice to the well of words.
The Farther Route
Do you like how twisted I am?
Are you willing to take the farther route with me?
There is no light,
but it is said to have more stars.
There is no sign post,
but there are many unnamed flora.
Do you want to live in a warm ocean?
Are you willing to approach a shark out of sheer curiosity?
I always think of you at critical moments
as if you could wake me from my nightmares.
If There Were a Next Life
I would spend my next life
As a beautiful deer,
Dashing into the road when you were driving
For your sincere remorse.
I would spend my next life
As a petit snail.
On the sidewalk after the rain,
I’d quietly be crushed by you
So that I could live on the sole of your shoes
And follow you wherever you go.
I would become a
Located in a
Perfect love poem
To make you slightly surprised
And to make you wonder about
The meaning of my existence.
Some verses are sad by nature,
such as Love, such as We.
We–Can you understand?
It requires two people or more
to do the same things, such as
making love, or coming across difficult words,
or reading similar stories,
or writing sentences that make one another feel
suffocated at an instance.
I will not ask you ever again, things like
how you’ve been, how the weather is
where you are, if it’s raining,
if you’re still kidnapped by the reality, or
if you’re still afraid, you’re
still shaken in the middle of a storm.
I know the mere existence of somethings
make people sad.
I just didn’t think even these hearts
are broken through our collaboration.
I don’t know about you, but the rain here
has been hitting my window nonstop.
Every raindrop is a needle
piercing through our history
and then slowly sawing it back together.
Are you still where I left you
just as I had once waited for you?
Sooner or later someone will have to leave first,
sometimes dying in life
sometimes an inextinguishable flame
rise in one’s dreams.
Some verses have always been upsetting,
I know, for instance what you’ve told me, about
us. Everything turned miserable
after you and I are no longer we.
I come across difficult words,
read similar stories,
tell lies that suffocate myself.
All lies are voluntarily told.
Same are decay and diaspora.
Same as you and I.
〈所有人都起飛了只剩他在原地〉 by 林禹瑄
Everyone Has Taken off, Leaving Only Him on the Spot
Everyone has taken off
Leaving only him on the spot
Stepping back and forth, blinking, lighting a lighter,
Using burnt fingers to rub some icy desire.
The floor in his eyes was still the floor
The wall was still the wall, and the self mirror on the wall
Was still having the annoying look,
Living in the house like a wasteland,
Making hollow sounds:
No splendid fire, no man-eating flower,
and no soft branch leading to the deep end of the universe,
bringing back the answer to life–
He still has questions, but no one answers them.
Everyone has taken off
Leaving only him on the spot,
Trying to burn the extinguished prairie,
Believing that repeating the same uselessness
At the same frequency
Will make himself useful,
Such as reading about communism, drinking diet coke,
Such as believing that ordinariness
Brings one safety and happiness.
“But nothing happened.”
No clock hand that went counterclockwise, no shiny memories,
and no expanding galaxy silently devouring
a life time of regret and depression.
He knew that the world had problems,
But he didn’t know where he had made a mistake.
He remained silent. Everyone said
Silence was right.
And yet everyone has taken off,
Leaving only him on the spot,
Walking back and forth, blinking, and lighting a lighter,
Continuing to breathe sincerely
“Nothing becomes better.”
He unwrapped a piece of chewing gum,
Chewing himself plain.
He felt lonely,
He felt he was extra,
But he didn’t
Put on a disappointed look.
A minute still contains 60 seconds, and afar is still afar.
Standing under the sun
Still makes him want to make a wish.
Everyone has taken off,
Leaving the best of life behind.
He puts the ashes in his pocket,
Sometimes watering it, sometimes burning it.
When it rains,
Only he has a secret.
Only he can see the new-grown mushrooms.
By Lily Yen