January 12, 2009

Chiao Tung University's English Play: 8 Women

Last week on Friday and Saturday, Chiao Tung University's English department performed their annual English play. This year's play was 8 Women, the English translation of the French murder mystery, 8 Femmes, which is both a movie and play. The tickets to the play were free and there were only two performances.

This is the second year in a row that I have seen the English play performed by the students. Both times I have been very impressed that an English department could put on a play of such high quality. The costumes, make-up and sets were as good as any that you would see in a professional production. English department students translated the play's dialog into Chinese, and it was then projected onto two screens during the performance.

The English pronunciation was as good as you could expect. In last year's performance, there were a few ringers who had probably started learning English at a young age. Last year, there was also the strange phenomenon of people who were supposed to be from the same town (Our Town) and even the same family, but had different accents. There were some students with English accents, some with American accents, and of course a lot of students with a common Taiwanese accent.

Although last year's play was more to my liking, I would grade this year's performance as an A, but for one problem. It was difficult to understand a lot of the dialog (just like last year). Better and more theatrical intonation would help, but I think it was mostly a technical problem. The performance hall seems to have a bit of an echo, there is a delay between the sound coming from the actors and the sound coming from the speakers, and the volume was set fairly low. I think the sound crew should have been able to solve this problem by turning up the volume and perhaps moving some speakers to different locations where the echo wasn't so strong. Maybe they didn't pay much attention to the sound because the audience could read the dialog (in Chinese).

Last month Tsing Hua University also performed an English play, but I missed that one. If you're interested in seeing one of these plays next year, look for flyers posted around the night market across from Tsing Hua University around December.

It might have been helpful if I had posted about the performance before it took place, but you can still see the website created for the play. It includes a blog. The actresses answer some questions, and you can find that the favorite line of one actress is "Combs never sleep!" and for another it is "I just know more how to arouse the desire." There are also pictures.

Incidentally, I suspect that the choice of the play was influenced by the lack of men in the English department. When the cast came on stage after the show, I only saw about three males. It seems that a lot of English departments are 70-90% female. For the play 8 women, only one male actor was needed, and his role did not have any lines.


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