Devoted to photography since 1993, the Taiwanese photojournalist Shen Chao-Liang 沈昭良 (born in Tainan, Taiwan, in 1968) has been creating works that reflect upon the social landscapes, while questioning the daily lives and experiences of people.
In his series Stages (started in 2005), Shen has documented Taiwanese cabaret culture and lifestyles. “Since the 1970s, Taiwan society has developed its own cabaret culture which is different from those of the Western countries. In the early years, performers were invited to perform entertainment programs, often in the form of singing and dancing, in a variety of occasions, ranging from wedding banquets or funerals to religious ceremonies. In order to move conveniently around the country, they chose to perform in a simple “theatre” - usually in a camp or on a truck renovated specifically for the performance,” he explains.
“As Taiwan gradually developed into a more industrial and modernized economy, the performances have evolved by introducing new technologies and equipment as well as applying more sophisticated skills to improve their entertainment effects. (…) Not only singers and dancers are dressed up in formal luxurious costume, forms and programs are also enhanced and re-designed to include “newer” performances such as poll dance, drag shows, jugglers and comedy. Sometimes the moving stage itself, usually a “truck theatre” that may weigh up to 8 to 15 tons, is regarded as an integral part of the performance that can attract a considerable number of people.
Most performers of Taiwanese cabaret are young single women in their late 20s or early 30s. In addition to those who work for their “family business”, a high percentage of performers are part-time performers with other occupations. (…) Due to long working hours and high mobility of the profession, sometimes they have to choose to leave the business because of family reasons.”
More information: www.shenchaoliang.com