ADELAIDE, Australia—As the Divine Performing Arts continued to grace Australian audiences with its rich Chinese cultural shows, the New York-based company made a spectacular debut in Adelaide, the famed artistic and cultural capital of South Australia also known as the 'The City of Churches.'
But while Adelaide was originally known for its churches, it is now known as 'The Festival State,' printed on its car license plates, and is a thriving cultural centre. Among the world famous festivals it holds are the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Fringe Festival, the Adelaide Film Festival, among others.
However, with the arrival of the Divine Performing Arts, Adelaide got its first taste of ancient 5000-year old Chinese culture.
Among the 100-member performing arts company were a few locals. Brother and sister Helen and Eddy Shia are originally from Adelaide, but now live in New York and tour the world with the Divine Performing Arts company. The pair were delighted to be back home to perform.
"Of course we are very happy about it," said Helen in an interview with New Tang Dynasty Television, conducted in Chinese at the airport, "…we are coming back home to see everyone, and we are very excited to perform in our own city—we expect a big audience to come and watch!" Eddy agreed, saying that this is the first time they have come to Adelaide, and that he wishes for great success.
Successful it was at the Adelaide Festival Centre. Even before the show, Bill Spurr, chair of the Education Adelaide Board, said: "I'm really looking forward to seeing this show at this and learning about traditional Chinese culture… something like 24,000 international students come to Adelaide each year and 40 per cent of those students come out of China, so we want to learn more about Chinese culture to understand them better as they understand us…"
Among the audience members were Dr. Tom Allen and Ms Ione Banner, who said they were enchanted and fascinated by what they witnessed. "It's just so completely out of my previous experience, and I've had a lot of experience," said Dr Allen. "The background, the way the actors put in the drums, and the beautiful veils, and the waves, it's completely out of my experience otherwise. I'm absolutely delighted … I'm very old and I've never seen anything like it."
Dr Allen was interested by the western instrumental overlay, and intrigued by some of the performances: "I was expecting, assuming that all this entertainers were Chinese—and they are ethnic Chinese—but the show comes from America. And that, to me, explains how you could have the Falun Gong in it; I'm sure you couldn't have shown this show in China, it couldn't be there. And that comes as a complete surprise, because coming here just to see it as a spectacle; I was expecting it to come from China. But I'm absolutely fascinated." He said his favourite was 'Nymphs of the Sea.'
His theatre partner Ione Banner was equally impressed. "I think it's absolutely enchanting" were her first words in response to the show. "The backdrops are so good, like the birds flying, or the chariot with the king coming, it's absolutely… the whole thing is really spectacular, it's called Spectacular , and it is. When it opened, and the waves, the sea nymphs ['Nymphs of the Sea']—it was marvellous, wasn't it? And the drummers were fantastic; the choreography, the costumes, the beautiful movement, ahh, it was amazing."
Like Tom, Ione took note of the parts of the performance likely to be repressed in China, "Well, in China at the moment they're being so dogmatic about certain aspects, aren't they?" "Tibet," Tom immediately said, and Ione continued: "… and human rights, and so forth. And the songs were portraying good and evil, and love being important in their lives …they're so contrary to what's happening in China just now, which is another thing that came through."
Both Tom and Ione enjoy performing arts shows, "I was in Shanghai last year, and I saw, you know, a great performance of Chinese acrobats and dancing, and that was lovely," Ione said "but this is got other aspects to it," she concluded of the Spectacular . "I just think the whole thing is mindblowing, I mean, each and every one is different."
When asked what they will remember about the performance, Ione was lost for words, but finally said, softly: "Things will come back, things will come at different times… I'll remember it."
Tom was surer: "A kaleidoscope of good impressions!" he firmly said.