Stage Time and Wine @ The Red Room on Taipei Times

Here’s an article about Stage Time and Wine on Taipei Times written by Diane Baker.

Red Room

Ayesha Mehta grew up in Taipei and went off to Sydneyto study music and voice at a conservatory, became a jazz singer and a vocal coach — and fell in love with the spoken word. “When I first arrived in Sydney from Taipei, I found a poetry night at a pub, hosted by Tug Dumbly [organizer and host of Bardflys, Australia’s long-running spoken word night]. He’s become an icon … I came back six years later and there’s no place I can go to read books except in the living room,” Mehta said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Missing Bardflys, she was looking for a way to create a similar experience here. Then she met Ping Chu (朱平), the well-known pharmacist-turned-entrepreneur who brought the Aveda cosmetics franchise to Taiwan and established Nonzero restaurant. It was kismet. “I went to volunteer for Typhoon Morakot in Taitung. The first night I walked into the [Dulan] Sugar Factory (都蘭新東糖廠藝術村) and Ping was standing there with a big smile on his face. ‘I know your mom [businesswoman and artist Roma Mehta],’ he said. I met him a couple of times in Taipei and then I told him I had been thinking about doing a ‘Red Room’ since I came backing in April,” Mehta said. Ping loved the idea and told her that his girlfriend organizes reading nights in Hong Kong and he had been “waiting for something like this to happen in Taipei.”

Mehta had been looking for a space like a large living room that would be big enough to hold several dozen people yet could still feel comfortable and intimate. Ping just happened to know of some, since this is what he builds as training spaces for Aveda.

Having found a space and a very willing collaborator, Mehta organized musician friends to perform two sets, put up posters and sent out e-mails inviting people to read, sing, but most importantly, listen.

“Bring something you have written or choose a passage from somewhere else that you are moved to read aloud,” she told people, but keep it at five minutes, while musical participants were encouraged to bring their instruments for jam sessions at the beginning and end of the night Attendees were also told to bring something to drink, and after the first event, also a washed and peeled vegetable ready for the stewpot.

The first Stage Time and Wine@ Red Room event was held in November last year at a space right next to Nonzero and Aveda’s office. The second night, held last month, was just down the road at another Aveda venue, the company’s “learning space.” The first event drew 60 or 70 people, maybe more, Mehta said, while the second one attracted 40 to 50. She described the first event “as a laugh,” while the second was “like a living room, people meeting each other, really wonderful.”

Metha said she wanted to keep the events low budget to make them accessible to everyone. “If you go out for a drink, you spend at least NT$400, if you go out for coffee it’s at least NT$100,” she said. “Here you spend NT$200, you can drink as much as you want, eat as much as you want.” Thanks to Ping, Nonzero provides the glasses and kitchen supplies — along with some complimentary cookies.

Though Mehta stressed that Stage Time and Wine@ Red Room III is an event for listening, it is open to whatever people want to do. She noted that at the first event “one person came and shrieked like a banshee,” while at the second a woman came and read in Taiwanese, French and English. Asked about the Red Room name, Mehta laughed and said it was a long story but basically it’s “a name for the space.” “Each one is so different, I’m looking forward to seeing it
evolve,” Mehta said. “People get what they bring.”

WHAT: Stage Time and Wine@ Red Room III
WHEN: Tomorrow from 6:30pm to 10:30pm
WHERE: 2F, 117, Da-an Rd Sec 1, Taipei City
ADMISSION: NT$200 at door. For more
information, send an e-mail to or