Taiwan’s New Transmedia Agency: A ‘Theatre of Voices’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

In its early output, the new Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) introduces drama, a kind of historic newsreel, a boyhood tale, and a survey of literature in challenging times.

A still from ‘Chopsticks,’ one of four ‘Theatre of Voice’ short works from Taiwan. Image: TAICCA

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See our complete guide to Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 here. It has our latest stories, event highlights, our free digital magazine, and more.

Four Short Works From Taiwan
Not unlike Publishing Scotland’s compelling Second Nature documentary on Scottish nature writing, you may have missed the quiet presentation at Frankfurter Buchmesse called Theatre of Voice: Four Stories from Taiwan.

You’ll recall our story on Taipei’s development of the new Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) to build and support projects in transmedial development on the OSMU model, or One-Source Multi-Use. Here’s a look at some early material coming from the program.

BookFest followers at Frankfurt may have seen it during that series’ presentation of 28 hours of programming.

Equally divided into four sections, the 20-minute reel presents a quartet of stories–each quite different in style and intent.

Artists involved include:

  • Actor King Shih Chieh in Chopsticks
  • Writer Su Chih Heng in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Taiwan: The Life and Death of Taiwanese Hokkien Cinema
  • Translator Gwennaël Gaffric in The Magician on the Skywalk (which we mentioned last week in connection with literary agent Gray Tan)
  • Translator Thilo Diefenbach in Literary Works in the Authoritarian Regime of Formosa

We’re pleased to have a chance to offer you a look at each of these works today, with TAICCA’s assistance, not least because of the connection with “Tailywood,” as Taipei’s cinematic community sometimes is called, but also because of the sheer range of activity represented by these pieces. They were first described to us as “audio tests.” And while each entry is much more fully produced that that characterization would suggest, they are, in fact, pilots of a kind, demonstrations of intellectual property development to come.

Those who joined us in our Frankfurt Conference discussion with several CEOs on Frankfurt Wednesday, in fact, might remember our quick exchange with HarperCollins India CEO Ananth Padmanabhan on his work in producing short videos for producers and studios based on Harper’s list–high quality, memorable turns on the concepts and potential of various works for screen development. The good news from Padmanabhan was that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has provided film artists with some time to work on this project, so production has continued despite the constraints.

TAICCA’s output here indicates that this new agency, likewise, is turning out work at an impressive pace, and in one of the markets of the world that seems to have put almost all others to shame in its handling of the pathogen. At this writing, the 4:24 a.m. ET (0824 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 544 cases—not a typo, just 544, in Taiwan’s population of 23.8 million, with only seven fatalities.

What we’ll do now is give you a chance to look at each of these pieces, which TAICCA beguilingly is positioning as being from “islands in the East.”

‘Chopsticks (Bones of Coral’

Notice how little you see of the faces in this work until quite near the end. “I suddenly felt a gaze cast upon me. In some dark place, someone was peeping at me. No, measuring me. The gaze was jocular, but also a little greedy.”

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Taiwan’

This piece looks at the release of the Taiwanese Hokkien film Hsueh Ping-Kuei and Wang Pao-Chuan. “It reverberated like a bolt of thunder.” In a sense, this is a cinema newsreel in which the news is the cinema.

‘The Magician on the Skywalk’

You may need no more about this one than the line, “I saw a stone lion facing me in the doorway.”

‘Literary Works of the Authoritarian Regime’

In this quick documentary, you’re introduced to Taiwan’s literature written in Mandarin after the close of World War II. The end of Japanese rule ushered in China’s control and martial law—which included “strict censorship.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more from us on Taiwan is here, and more on Buchmesse’s The Arts+ is here, and more on education is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

And from international industry trends to curated guides to the many online events during this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, our digital magazine offers you the information you need to make the most of the fair and the rest of 2020. 

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.