International Conference 
"Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
Theatre - Dance - Music - Visual & Multimedia Art - Arts Administration - Performing Arts Training - Theatre Design & Technology

December 17 - 21, 2015


Liminality in Wu Hsing-Kuo’s Metamorphosis

Lecture-PowerPoint and video presentation on the performance experience - 
the combination of Chinese Opera and The Metamorphosis by Kafka - by Phoenix Tsailuan Chang (Taiwan). 

Phoenix Tsailuan Chang is a retired high-school teacher, and eager to stay on the campus for the rest of her life. After obtaining her MA degree last year, she passed the exam and has become a PhD student of National Taiwan Normal University this September. Being a 62-year-old student, she is energetic, diligent and well connected to the traditional Chinese Opera, much better than her young classmates. A combination of Chinese Opera and “The Metamorphosis” by Kafka, her favorite writer, has been extremely fascinating to her. Phoenix Tsailuan Chang feels honored to introduce Wu’s performance in this conference.


Wu Hsing-kuo’s Metamorphosis is a collage play of animated projections, and his performing of modern spoken drama, contemporary dance, and Chinese opera. The plot is based on Franz Kafka’s story, with Wu’s own interpretation and a combination of Eastern and Western performing art. This is an assembly of synthetic fragments, presenting a hybridization of cultures, and a transgression of borders. Wu’s singing of Jingju and Kunqu arias is accompanied by the interweaving of live music and digital samplers, offering an exciting soundtrack. The digitized performance has reached mystical dimensions and augmented narratives, with the application of multimedia technology into the storytelling process.

The performance is divided into six scenes to show different liminal space, respectively. Wu delineates that human beings existing in this life are undergoing a phantasmagoria of the universe, waiting to be transformed. He applies liminal music, and symbolic “mise en scene,” to imply a memory of being isolated and trapped in the liminal time. The transforming personae in the dream scene of love have presented an Eastern fiction “The Peony Pavilion,” mixed with Kafka’s romance. Wu’s “mise en abyme” has put Du Liniang’s dream inside Gregor’s and Kafka’s, strongly suggesting a dreamy state waiting to be awakened. Once passing the thresholds of death or dream, a person can be completely set free. Wu’s own transformation from a traditional player into a modern artist is also a persuasive example. Having been long accused of much monstrous transgression, Wu’s final world-wide recognition has made all the difference.   

Wu Hsing-Kuo and Phoenix Tsailuan Chang

Wu Hsing-kuo’s Metamorphosis performance photos courtesy of Contemporary Legend Theater 

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"