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    Cafeteria Formosa is my MFA thesis production in the University of Texas at Austin. The project is developed with my identity difficulty as a Taiwanese into an immersive, site-specific performance wherein audience members and performers explore the nuances, complexities, and delights in an engaging, all-you-can eat food cart stop called Cafeteria Formosa. Your imagination is the only limit - as each and every dish sparks a unique story for the eater.

WHERE IS CAFETERIA FORMOSA?

    Taiwan, my hometown, is a place where numerous people and cultures meet each other.  Born with her geographical location, Taiwan has always been a vital fort with its strategic importance in East Asia politics. Over the past four hundred years, a variety of regimes ruled the island: Dutch, Spanish, Ming, Qing, Japan, and Republic of China. People on this island are changing their identification year by year with outsiders’ rule. “Who we are?” becomes an endless question for people living here. ​
    “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”, just as the painting title was named by Paul Gauguin, what is the challenge for current Taiwanese people? What is the difficulty for Taiwan to generate a united identification? Where should Taiwan head to in her next step? All of these questions led me to produce this thesis project. named with “Cafeteria Formosa”. Formosa, which originated from the Portuguese who sailed by Taiwan in the 16th century and recorded as “Ilha Formosa!". Cafeteria is a metaphor for the diversity of culture and history in Taiwan, it also symbolizes how different cultures and people gather around, blend and fuse together on a single plate in order to generate a shared identity.
    The project aims to explore to possibility of What is the experience of being a Taiwanese with such a sophisticated history and political circumstance? What are the challenges Taiwanese people encounter while seeking our national identification? How can the creation process of a devised performance present the identification difficulties of Taiwan? 

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RESEARCH DIRECTION

◆ Identification
◆ Taiwanese Consciousness
◆ Imagination Community 
◆ Cultural Nationalism
◆ Settler Colonialism
◆ Nationality
◆ Ethnographic Method 

DEVISING PROCESS

The storytelling of Cafeteria Formosa starts with original text created by Lo-Yao Huang, and later co-created by the actors and designers that led by Hsiao-Wei Chen and Kristen Osborn. The devising process focus on the guiding questions: where do we from, how do we identify ourselves, and where are we going? We collect the creative elements from the process to build up the world of Cafeteria Formosa with restaurant elements.

DESIGN & FABRICATION

In order to create a welcoming circumstance for the performance, I set up the venue at a lawn area with the food cart that is easy accessed and fun, which inspired by Taiwanese Food Cart. Costume-wise, the cast were engaged in the design process by rendering how they think they look like and how other cast think themselves look like. Afterwards, I merge the cast's and my design into one.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Artistic Director: Hsiao-Wei Chen
Original Text: Lo-Yao Huang
Director & Co-Creator: Kristen Osborn
Performers & Co-creators: Rachel Aston Warren, Ashley Diaz, Henry
Kelly, Esther Park, Ricky Pratchett, Simon Salinas Jr., Nathan Tran
Production Manager: Matthew Schulz
Stage Manager: Kat Clark
Scenic, Costume & Graphic Designer: Hsiao-Wei Chen
Lighting Designer: Ari Jamieson
Sound Designer: Eliot Fisher
Logo Designer: Court Rogers
Costume & Prop Assistant, Co-Creator: Jadzia Padilla
Food Cart Co-Fabrication: Chris Conard
Logo Cross Stitch Fabrication: Lindsey Rae
Photo Credit: Logan Smith, Jackson Cobb
Video Credit: Timothy Hao-Wei Chang

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