Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Forbidden City: The Musical - A Hundred Days of Changes, To Change The Way We ...

I caught the final day performance of local musical 'Forbidden City', music by local composer Dick Lee, story and lyrics with West End award-winning Stephen Clark and idea collaboration with Steven Dexter, Presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

It was a most fascinating presentation on an important epoch and character of pre-modern China History. Told through the reminiscence of the elderly Empress Dowager Cixi, it tells of a woman, an empire, and a people fighting for what they believe to be for the good of their nation. It tells of a nation fighting against foreign imperialists, in a doomed effort, to retain their way of life which had always been for 5000 years. In essence, that historical period - the Opium Wars, the Hundred Days Reformation, the Boxer Rebellion, the Allied Invasion - all shaped and crafted Chinese political psyche and mentality for the 100 years since, and its scars and impact still echo in the halls of Chinese politics and diplomacy today.

[LAND OF OUR FATHERS: ... One more defeat, one more retreat ... the world that we know that we're fighting to save ... one more to lose, one more to choose ... the world that we know for five thousand years ... the world that we make through the shedding of tears ... is becoming a world that everyone fears... the land of our fathers, the stories we told ... the land of our fathers, the glories of old ... ]

Charged and moving, moments abound when the air seemed to hang in suspense, as none dared breath but hung onto every word and note of the characters. I suppose it being the final day had its effects too. It was a full house, and after a month-long run.

[ MY ONLY CHANCE: ... They've painted my face ... they've chosen my path ... they've nurtured my pride ... in the role that they cast... but inside there's a place... a place that nobody knows ... This is my only chance ... Love, open my heart ... heals the broken dreams all in the past .. This is my only chance ... Love ... make me a part ... of someone ... who shows me ...]

This 2006 run is a magnificent spectacle; the revisions since the 2002/2003 runs (which I too had attended and had not appreciated) created a tighter narrative, more dichotomy and emotional tussles, greater sense of history and occasion. The costumes bespeak a rich tapestry of traditional designs and modern interpretations. The stage design flows poetic and symbolic - an electrifying visual feast of colours and depth.

[BLOOD IN THE STREETS: The very heart of China is sullied by its laws, its soul is choked with bitterness, with every breath it draws ... the earth is steeped in bloodshed, the walls are closing in ... corruption flows within our veins, now truth become a sin ...... A hundred days of changes, to change the way we learn, to change the way we see ourselves, for then the tide will turn ..... will make our world a stronger world that will not be run on bribes...... A country torn to pieces, by a hundred years of greed ... by the foreign devil's opium, just see the nation bleed ... a country torn to pieces, by a long and bloody war ... as the allies fought to rule a land, that is rotten to the core ......This is not the time for cowardice ... for if a single man retreats ... if a child is weak, if a woman cheats, we will suffer the first of a thousand defeats ... for an empire die, like a heart that never beats ... we will see our blood in the streets ... Blood In The Streets ...]

And the music and lyrics. The chic fusion of traditional eastern instruments and modern western ones creates a lush orchestration. The soaring yearning of My Only Chance, the hope and optimism of A Hundred Days Reformation, the turmoil and angst of Blood in the Streets, and the despair thereafter, and the same lyrics and melodic motifs presented by opposing characters in simultaneous contrasting contexts - the ironic parallels. The many turns, lifts and lines ofthe tunes and the poignant words just continued floating and etching their imprints in my mind even two days after. It will probably be a most successful world tour, esp in China. I look forward to its next run, and I will definitely be in attendance.

Official Website at www.srt.com.sg All photos taken from the SRT website.


Post a Comment

<< Home

url("http://www.blogblog.com/harbor/lighthouse.jpg") wrap { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/harbor/sky.jpg") repeat-x left top; min-width:740px; margin:0; padding:0; text-align:left; } wrap3 { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/harbor/cloud.jpg") no-repeat 100% 75px; } wrap4 { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/harbor/center_cloud.jpg") no-repeat 50% 0; padding:15px; width:100%; width/* */:/**/auto; width: /**/auto; } Nicol Ngiam
Tan Wei Lie