by Charles Kruger
The Tainaner Ensemble has been one of the leading theatrical companies on the island of Taiwan for more than three decades. Known for their challenging and often experimental work, one of their successful productions, Pao-Chang Tsai’s epic K24 (Chaos), had a running time of six hours. So, one might say, this is a company that does not shy away from a challenge. Appearing frequently on the international festival circuit, the company, and playwright Pao-Chang Tsai, has achieved a world-wide reputation.
“Solo Date,” which is making its U.S. premiere with the San Francisco International Arts Festival, has previously made a successful run at the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where one critic described it as “tomorrow’s theatre” and another reported that it “sets the bar high.”
Quite a few playwrights have recently begun addressing the challenging issues raised by life in virtual reality. Are virtual relationships real? What is identity? In the past couple of years, San Francisco has seen at least two very remarkable plays that explore this theme. Most recently, there was the Bay Area premiere of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime,” in which an elderly woman is treated for senility by engaging with a robot in the form of her deceased husband. In 2016, we saw Jennifer Haley’s “The Nether,” in which characters explored fantasies online which would be unacceptable in the real world.
In “Solo Date,” Pao-Chang Tsai’s character, Ho-Nien, tries to recreate his dead lover by means of social media and artificial intelligence. He discusses the genesis of the production in this video:
Now the co-artistic director of Tainaner Ensemble, Pao-Chang Tsai is clearly a young artist on fire with talent and enthusiasm. His resume includes training at some of the finest institutions world wide, including National Taiwan Unviersity, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London, the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, the Moscow Art Theatre and the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris.
Clearly, this man, this company, and this play are theatrical forces to be reckoned with.
Pao-Chang Tsai will perform “Solo Date!” at the Southside Theater at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture on Thursday, May 31 (8:30 p.m.), Friday, June 1st (7 p.m.), and Saturday, June 2nd (3 p.m.). “Solo Date” is a co-production of San Francisco International Arts Festival and the National Queer Arts Festival.
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) hosts these performances as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival, which runs from May 24, 2018 to June 3, 2018. The Festival features more than 60 performances by close to 40 different artists, ensembles, and companies. Get discounts on tickets to see multiple shows at the Festival by buying a Festival pass. More details HERE.