This Is Not an Embassy (Made in Taiwan)

By Stefan Kaegi

This piece is an attempt to simulate the establishment of an impossible embassy. How would we imagine a territory that is not officially recognised as a state and yet comes to life on stage in every performance?

Geologically, Taiwan is part of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a seismically particularly active zone on the edge of the Pacific, where huge tectonic plates collide, leading to frequent major earthquakes. The island’s political stability is similarly fragile and it is in danger of being crushed between power blocs and agitation.  

In 1945, Taiwan became a founding member of the United Nations and a full member of the Security Council as “Republic of China”. In 1971, however, Richard Nixon re-established relations between the US and mainland China, and the “Republic of China” had to leave the UN. Ever since, Taiwan has struggled to find diplomatic recognition. Only a dozen of its diplomatic missions around the globe have embassy status. Although Taiwan has many international friends and trading partners, no nation can afford to break with China as an industrial power, and so Taiwan is not recognised by Germany or any other European country except the Vatican. In other words, Taiwan is just the most visible representative of this global dilemma.

In this situation, Taiwan has developed a new form of foreign policy which allows it to create networks with others under the radar of official diplomacy, through NGOs and trade relations. In the theatre, we are familiar with pretending. How would a representation of Taiwan work onstage? Which flag, which anthem and which ritual would be appropriate for our time?

Along with Taiwanese artists, Stefan Kaegi conducted research during a seven-week residency at the Taipei National Theatre, talking to diplomats, geologists, technicians from the semi-conductor industry, politicians and business people. Three of them will be on stage in “Dies ist keine Botschaft (Made in Taiwan)”: a retired ambassador, a digital activist, and a musician and heiress of a bubble tea empire.


Concept and direction: Stefan Kaegi
Dramaturgy and assistant director: Szu-Ni Wen
Scenography: Dominic Huber
Video: Mikko Gaestel
Music: Polina Lapkovskaja (Pollyester), Debby Szu-Ya Wang, Heiko Tubbesing
Research Taiwan: Yinru Lo
Video shooting: Philip Lin
Light: Pierre-Nicolas Moulin
Lighting managers: Pierre-Nicolas Moulin, Jean-Baptiste Boutte
Props: Séverine Blanc, Clélia Ducraux, Mathieu Dorsaz
Co-Dramaturgy: Caroline Barneaud
Assistant director: Kim Crofts
Assistant set designer: Matthieu Stephan (trainee)
Outside eyes: Aljoscha Begrich, Viviane Pavillon
Production Europe: Tristan Pannatier (Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne)
Production Taïwan: Chin Mu (NTCH)
With: Chiayo Kuo, Debby Szu-Ya Wang, David Chienkuo Wu  

A production of Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne and the National Theatre & Concert Hall, Taipei in co-production with Rimini Apparat, Berliner Festspiele, Volkstheater Wien, Centro Dramático Nacional Madrid, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Festival d’Automne à Paris, National Theatre Drama / Prague Crossroads Festival