Interview: Resident Island Dance Theatre

Lost in Grey, a dance piece conceived by Taiwan’s Resident Island Dance Theatre exploring mental disability and the complexities of human psychology in today’s society. The Outlier Scotland interviewed choreographer Chang Chung-An on his work and experience at the Fringe.


What is your inspiration behind the creation of this show?
In recent years in Taiwan, many people who committed murder are sufferers of mental disorders. Also, a few friends of mine display symptoms of mental disorder. I think Taiwan’s government underestimates this issue. Hence, I would like to express this through Lost in Grey.


How did the exploration of a serious and relevant issue affect the rehearsal process and choreography of Lost in Grey?
The dancers observed patients in a specialized hospital during the rehearsal period, and therefore they understand the fundamental issues. They were also willing to share and improvise towards the structure that I set for this piece.


What is Taiwan’s attitude towards mental health?
Taiwanese society and related institutions pay really close attention to these issues and their patients. However, Taiwan has a very conservative culture. Sufferers, their friends and family usually ignore the problem, because they don’t want to know that they or someone they know have a mental illness.

For those with disorders, they will not voluntarily seek diagnosis or treatment, unless if they are in severe conditions and are forced to be admitted into hospitals and mental institutions. Society doesn’t quite have the open-mindedness to face these problems, especially for treating patients with mental illness. Eventually, these unresolved issues are buried in society and put people in danger.

I would like to raise awareness for mental disorders through my work, and hope it touches people’s hearts.


Were there any particularly memorable responses from the audience after watching Lost in Grey?
Audiences are from all over the world, and one person said, “Energetic and impressive! I’m an engineer, and understood and enjoyed the show.”


Lost in Grey runs at the Edinburgh Fringe everyday from now until 28 August 2016 at Dance Base (Venue 22) at 5.15pm, and has recently been shortlisted as finalists for the Fringe’s Asian Arts Award 2016. Resident Island Dance Theatre would like audiences to experience different perspectives of life through their work, and seek more collaboration with different artists all over the world at the Fringe.