‘Get in before they leave town,’ Says Writer and Actor

Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 23, 2013 Last Updated: January 23, 2013
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Thomas Barnes and his son attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kauffman Center. (Xiao Ding/The Epoch Times)

Thomas Barnes and his son attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kauffman Center. (Xiao Ding/The Epoch Times)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Thomas Barnes, a writer and actor, and his son, a student, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 22.

Mr. Barnes wanted to take his son to Shen Yun and said during intermission that they have not been able to experience anything like Shen Yun.

Based in New York, Shen Yun presents traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance and music. Shen Yun was formed in 2006 by a group of classical Chinese artist with the mission of reviving the almost lost 5,000 years of true Chinese culture.

For Mr. Barnes, the traditional Chinese culture really touched him. He said he loves the culture. Shen Yun presents ethnic and folk dances. “The variety of the cultures that were brought together is … fantastic,” Mr. Barnes said.

He said that he could relate to the divinely inspired Chinese culture. “There’s always a divine being—Buddhism, Daoism, there’s always a central figure or divinity, really, in just about every culture in every time,” he said. “Even if it’s a Norse myth and we’re talking about Thor, it’s the same.”

Mr. Barnes said that spirituality and peace aren’t as embraced by the West nowadays. “I’m glad to see we’re getting some of that culture. We’re being reminded of it,” he said.

In Shen Yun’s program book, he said that he noticed, “Some of the things—you couldn’t walk up to somebody and necessarily hear and just have a spiritual discussion with them.”

“That’s the kind of thing these sort of programs are bringing back. And that’s what we need to embrace the world. Its good to see—we need it. And they look beautiful, too,” he said.

The set designs and the digital backdrops impressed Mr. Barnes. “Fantastic,” he said.

Mr. Barnes and his son enjoyed learning the traditional Chinese stories and liked The Mongolian Bowl Dance, which they said was beautiful. Mr. Barnes was fascinated by the stories, and he learned that many ethnicities are part of real Chinese culture.

“I didn’t know that so many of the diverse cultures were all that much in the same region. You hear of Tibet, and Mongolia, and you kind of separate them in your own head but its really part of the same region,” he said.

As an actor, Mr. Barnes said the performance was amazing. “Its amazingly difficult to put together as much as they’re doing at one time and do it with a smile on their face,” he said. He said that he knows how long and hard the performers work.

His son said that live performances are difficult, and his father said he was right because you don’t get a second take. “I’ve got to commend them,” he said.

“They look wonderful, they look beautiful, and they seem to be enjoying themselves and that’s the main thing. They’re having fun. So they’re having as much fun as we are and that makes the show 10 times better,” Mr. Barnes said.

Mr. Barnes said that Shen Yun shouldn’t be missed. “It’s astounding and it’s entertaining,” he said. He said there was humor and something for everyone; all ages, for children, and for anyone that knows the culture, or does not know the culture. Mr. Barnes said that he would like to tell everyone “to get in here before [Shen Yun] leave[s] town, because they are fantastic.”

Reporting by Xiao Ding and Kelly Ni.

Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company will have one more performance in Kansas City on Jan. 23. Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit

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