For nearly a century stretching from the early years of the Republic of China, the Japanese occupation to the retrocession of Taiwan, the ZHANGs worked relentlessly for their shadow show business. In order to demonstrate the so-called absent presence, origin of the traditional script and make the audience be used to watch the show the way people did in old days, the Donghua Shadow Show is making every effort to highlight interpretation and preserving old practices on one hand, on the other, the performance group tries to incorporate its solid essence in different stories arranged in a parallel way, a move that helps reform traditional theater resources by taking in country legends. Eventually, their dramas more attractive. At Donghua, absent presence, a main issue in the traditional Chinese Theater that many times turns out to be embarrassing and hard to deal with, is demonstrated in reformed literature of multiple meaning. Stories in the traditional scripts are written again by incorporating customs of Taiwanese people that help the shadow show carry aestheticism of old days and reflect practicality of present time.
In this article, we try to figure out its narration approaches with traditional languages that reflect de confined existence of art. The other issue of study is the demonstration of literal performance in historic scenes. We are talking about artistic demonstration of the common people and materialization of history. According to publications of the Ministry of Education and theaters contributed by sound casting, it is determined that the Donghua Shadow Show is mainly to entertain its audience by following the artistic practices in market rules. Besides detailing changes in the profit-culture interactive system experienced by artists, sorting out culture propagation and brokerage behavior, Donghua highlights the art-generating area in contrast to the commercialized market. Fairy plays and performances required by religion are involved, just as the 3-in-1-religion phenomenon that is common in Taiwan and vivid in shadow shows.
Fortunately, based on the schedule of performance, artists have come out with a time section for shadow show scripts without sense of time that fits scripts of both old and new stories. What does not change is people, that is to say, audience is key and history remains as it is. Literature meanings shall not be confined, nor should it be interpreted from the point of culture, the meanings change along with language scenes in the process of construction. Thus will make a shadow show an aesthetic demonstration by a new historian. Eventually, countless performances will reflect understandings and reconstruction of the original view of the script, including questions raised by the writer to the script and other areas involved in the reflection to the script. Understanding of the meaning of a work does not necessarily mean understanding of the nature of the script alone; it involves changes with time and making good use of leisure as a way of living. Amid play and story telling, Taiwan’s popular art performance is in a newly merged horizon.
As performance of figures is key to the art of shadow show and sometimes it is more important than the script. Compared to the figurines on the wood engravings of early days, what makes the two common in artistic demonstration is a major issue in this article too. If shadow show were available in computerized animation, would it become more accessible to the youth? Could the 3D surface treatment giving shadow show additional depth be feasible? When such an issue is involved, we would then try to redesign shadow show with computerized animation. Just imagine the scene of a shadow figure in a 17th-Century stage with a large painting as background that deepens the stage itself, an engraving at the same time, the shadow figurines would be playing beyond light and shadow.