Taipei Improv Festival 2021: Embrace the Change
Formosa Improv Group 福爾摩沙即興組合(FIG) will be hosting Taipei’s first bilingual improv festival from December 3rd-5th of 2021 with the theme of “Embrace the Change” or 【擁抱改革】。Below we share the thoughts and expectations regarding this festival’s theme and how it relates to improv and the world around us, as told by the festival organizers.
Expecting the Unexpected
If there’s one lesson that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught the world it’s that we have to be prepared to expect the unexpected. Although Taiwan was spared much of the worst of the coronavirus early on, and life seemed to be proceeding somewhat “normally” throughout 2020, the island bubble existence of halcyon days experienced a harsh reality check starting in May of 2021 when an unprecedented wave of infections forced the government to raise pandemic restrictions to level 3. As businesses and classes went online, people scrambled for limited vaccine resources and the people of Taiwan had to make quick adaptations that the rest of the world had been dealing with for the past year. In the blink of an eye, Taiwan went from relaxed “business as usual” to raised levels of caution and alert, and while case numbers have paled in comparison to other areas of the globe, it was a rude awakening for the relatively sheltered island.
Inspiration from Abroad
Despite being inexperienced with leading online workshops and performing in online shows, FIG had the advantage of being able to reach out and learn from those improv groups who had been (and still are) experimenting with the world of online improv across the globe. The group collaborated with members of Singapore’s ASAP improv group, as well as involving FIG alumni members now living in different time zones to assist in hosting remote workshops for the Taipei improv community on Zoom. Besides hosting online workshops and shows, FIG also recently joined the Improvisasian Improv Festival, spearheaded by Third World Improv, based out of the Philippines. The festival itself was executed entirely online and involved predominantly ethnic Asian improv groups from across the globe.
The vision of the Improvisasian Festival was to:
Be a celebration of Asian improv, cultures, stories, and perspectives
Have conversations about our experiences
Build connections across Asian improvisers and communities
In the last few years, we have seen more diversity and more light shed on minority groups, allowing us to celebrate their creativity and energy left in the shadows for too long. — FIG performer and Administrative Director, Diana Liu
Growing a Grassroots Theme
Inspired by a combination of the incredible work the organizers of the Improvisasian Improv Festival put into their event, FIG’s previous experience of joining the 2019 Manila Improv Festival, as well as 2021 being FIG’s 3rd year anniversary, the group decided to take a chance in planning a festival in collaboration with improv communities around Asia. In accordance with its core value of building bridges across improv communities FIG will be hosting the “Embrace The Change” festival in December; however, the festival doesn’t belong to FIG, but rather to the improv community at large with different Taiwan-based groups being invited for the 3 day event.
Keeping the theme of community building in mind, members took advantage of the online workshops to use interactive tools when brainstorming the festival theme. At the end of one of the weekly online workshops with the focus of “Teamwork,” the facilitator shared a Google Jamboard link with the participants asking those involved to help create the yet-to-be decided festival theme itself.
Reflections on “Embrace the Change”
The pandemic has hit the world for the past 2 years, and things are only now hitting a new normal. I believe that “embracing the change” embodies that we should not try and make things go back to what they were before COVID-19 but instead embracing it and finding a new normal. — FIG Marketing Director and Performer, Lizette Hansen
Considering the countless challenges and forced changes the last two years have brought both in Taiwan and abroad, I feel this theme aptly represents the resolution to accept the new reality and to make the most out of unideal circumstances. The very act of organizing such a festival is a way to declare ownership of our livelihoods, rather than simply waiting for things to “get better” or “return to normal”, which seemed to be the prevailing attitude throughout most of the world last year. — FIG performer, Andrei Veja
I hope that the workshops and performances will motivate others to embrace the change in their lives. Whether we create an inspirational story on stage or challenge participants to move away from their comfort zone, I hope that the festival brings a new sense of awareness and instills confidence in others when facing adversity. — FIG Administrative Director and performer, Diana Liu