|This article compares the “new opeila” performances of the Golden Bough Theater and the Formosa Zephyr Opera Troupe. “New opeila” does not merely recreate the style of temple festival opera, but cites particular elements of opeila’s bricolage and places them within a new discursive context. This article compares how these two troupes blend temple festival opera and avant-garde theater in different ways, paying particular attention to how the actors create characters and to the relationships among the imaginary world on stage, the organization of the acting troupe, and contemporary Taiwanese society.
The Golden Bough Theater is an avant-garde theater which draws on temple festival opera, while the Zephyr Troupe is a Taiwanese opera troupe which draws on avant-garde theater. Golden Bough sees opeila as a local and working class theater; the Zephyr Troupe sees opeila as a subcultural women’s theater. While Golden Bough seeks to create a nostalgic world emphasizing the values of simplicity and harmony, the Zephyr Troupe seeks to integrate the ancient and post-modern and reconstruct a more holistic sense of self. For both troupes, the “spirit of opeila” represents a kind of freedom that is receding from the lives of contemporary middle-class Taiwanese.