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.
Dear young friends in Taiwan,
Recently, I started inviting college students to attend Red Room events. In doing so, I hope to welcome them to our community of Red Roomers.
Red Room is part of my life. When you step into Red Room from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you learn that happiness is easy and simple. In Red Room, people share their passion selflessly in art, performance, music, and through other forms of creativity to make Red Room a sharing platform without limitation.
The future of Taiwan is connected to the world, and knowledge of English is a crucial tool which aids in making that connection. Therefore, I always encourage younger generations to study English and practice it frequently. When you come to Red Room International Village(RRIV), you will immerse yourself in an English friendly environment and make friends from people around the world. Most importantly, you will find out that life cannot be separate from art, performance, music and creativity.
I believe if you choose to step out of your comfort zone and come to RRIV, you will learn to relish the challenge of learning English and savor the life which pours from your own happiness and the happiness of others. If you are not afraid of an English speaking environment or want to improve your English, RRIV is a starting point to help you connect with the world.
Co-Founder of Red Room
Businessman, Ripplemaker, Daymaker
PS, Hope to see you all at Red Room’s 6th anniversary on November 21st, 2015.
It was a magic night indeed. So many people walked up to me and told me they simply could not believe this is happening in Taipei.
I was most gratified to see so many local young people joining us. One young college student majoring Business and Marketing shared his plans for a backpack trip with a purpose to remind people that we are so alike in so many ways so we should stop hating and start engaging.
The positive energy at Red Room is really contagious and I can see we are making Taiwan a better place to live. Now, we have 50-50 for locals and international friends. I think this is a great ratio. There are so many young friends who are eager to expand their social life and want to learn English and connect with international friends.
(c) Copyright 2013 Red Room. Material on this site is the property of contributing members of the Red Room Community. Please do not copy any part of this publication. Thank you.
“Through quiet hearts and deep listening, in a room filled with immense positive and creative energy, we discover our similarity. The biases and misunderstanding come from ignorance and fear.
Red Room is a movement, reminding us that the deepest primordial human need is to feel connected and that in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.
Since 2009, Red Room has become an important part of our lives and I hope more people will discover Red Room. Leave the virtual world, turn off the phone, listen deeply, appreciate and support each other, and we find ourselves a member of this positive and creative ecosystem, where happiness can be easily attained.”
Ping Chu, Co-founder, Red Room
This magical event is created by whoever participates, with a new vibe each time. The energy is incredibly positive and supportive and even with a high percentage of newcomers each month, the intimacy and the magic never fades.
Photo by Red Roomers
Shared at Red Room’s first birthday celebration at Hua Shan Culture Park.
Wow, a small ripple has become a big wave.
I would like to salute Roma by sharing a poem by Christina Rossetti:
“Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.”
Character is like the wind. You don’t see it until it passes through.
In the past month, I have seen many people show their character with selfless commitment to plan this Red Room birthday.
One person, in particular, is Roma. She is the Mistress of the Red Room. She knew she would not be able to attend this celebration and she still worked out the details and took on many tasks until the last moments before she leaves for India.
I also want to single out one person, Ayesha. She is in Australia now. Without her, there will be no Red Room. ( Roma and Ayesha, this applause is for you. )
Today, I also want to share a quote from Joseph Campbell:
“People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life.. I think that what we are seeking is an experience of being alive.”
Here, at Red Room, We are after the sense of being alive and the pursuit of an adventure.
Every Red Room night has made me feel more alive.
Thank you, Red Room.
Happy First Birthday, Red Room
~ Ping Chu, Co-founder Red Room