Direct from the Berlin Festival, the U-Theatre Drummers of Taiwan are bound for Ann Arbor with their U.S. premiere performance of “The Sound of the Ocean.” This Taiwanese theatre troupe has astounded audiences with its amazingly physical and rigorous drumming, along with an uncanny ability to combine theatre, music and dance into one astounding show. Having originally performed in Taiwan in 1997 and toured around the world to venues in Asia, South America and Europe, the U-Theatre will have performed “The Sound of the Ocean” at least 75 times before hitting Ann Arbor, ensuring a unique and multi-faceted spectacle.
“Liu Ching-Ming, the U-Theatre’s artistic director, began the company in 1988 to create a theatre form that reflects the contemporary concerns she feels in the world around her, while at the same time embracing her own Taiwanese roots and Chinese culture,” Deirdre Valente, the group’s American based producer, told the Daily. Without a direct story-line or spoken text, both uncommon characteristics of U-Theatre productions, “The Sound of the Ocean” portrays water as a metaphor for the cycle of life. Using the rhythm of the drumming patterns to give the show its structure throughout the five titled sections, the actors reveal how water develops from a raindrop, into streams and oceans, then into the sky and, finally, how it is an integral part of the whole earth both physically and spiritually.
These men and women have rehearsed and performed on a mountainside in Taiwan, but tonight will engage their onlookers with a special one-night outdoor performance of “The Sound of the Ocean” in Ann Arbor’s own Nichols Arboretum. The group’s relationship to the natural environment is crucial, and their performance in the Arb is the perfect way for the audience to see just how the U-Theatre reflects and respects nature. “It will be great both for the company to perform and for Ann Arbor to see the U-Theatre acting in such a natural open-air setting,” Valente said.
But not to worry, if you are less of an outdoorsy person and enjoy more the indoor atmosphere of a theatre, the U-Theatre will perform “The Sound of the Ocean” two more times this weekend at the Power Center. With the goal of reaching the widest possible audience, it aims to make their shows accessible to all in many different kinds of settings. “In fact, ‘The Sound of the Ocean’ was originally created for a formal inside venue, revealing how the group has clearly responded to theatre and performance of the wider-world of today,” added Valente.
Whether you are a theatergoer, a lover of music, have a joy for dance or just want to be dazzled by unreal drumming of the utmost intensity, you should not miss the U-Theatre Drummers of Taiwan’s performance of “The Sound of the Ocean.” In the words of Valente, “The drumming is absolutely incredible – you can feel it in your heart and in your chest, and it is an experience you cannot get from watching a TV or video performance!”