Category: News@Mount Wuyi.

Wuyi’s lasting impression

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Actors performing in Impression, Da Hong Pao.

“Let go of your work; let go of your worries; let go of your burdens. Take your time and drink a cup of tea.” With such repeated theme lines, the grand outdoor gala performance Impression, Da Hong Pao premiered Monday night at Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province.

The larger-than-life show is the fifth installment of the Impression series after Liusanjie, Lijiang, Xihu and Hainan, co-directed by Zhang Yimou, Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue.

According to Wang, Impression, Da Hong Pao differs from the previous Impressions by providing audiences with an opportunity to escape busy urban life and a chance to realize the benefits of slowing down and was inspired by the casual and carefree lifestyle of Wuyi Mountain residents.

Da Hong Pao (Red Robe Tea) is the signature tea grown and produced in and around Wuyi Mountain and dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Growing, producing, selling and drinking Da Hong Pao are the major components of local life and form the main focus of the show.

“Da Hong Pao and its tea culture are what we try to portray and analyze in the show,” explained Zhang at a press conference moments before the premiere. In his opinion, tea is something elegant and divine, quoting an old saying: “With six cups of tea one can reach heaven.” He added that tea is also a common everyday part of most Chinese people’s lives.

Impression, Da Hong Pao has five chapters: Feast in Tang Dynasty, Dancing in the Bamboo Forest, Legendary Love Story, Selling and Producing Tea and Cruising on a Bamboo Raft. The 70-minute show reflects Wuyi tea culture from both an upper and lower-class perspective and involves 270 local performers.

“I generally enjoyed the show,” Pierre Bresson, a French art planner who flew from Beijing to Wuyi Mountain specifically for the show, told the Global Times after the premiere, “but not the ‘selling tea’ part where directors tried to be ordinary-people-friendly by telling deliberately pedestrian jokes.”

His opinion was echoed by several other audience members, including some locals who mostly complained about the intended humorous lowbrow puns being boring and spoiling the artistic and gracious atmosphere created by the other chapters.

“Obviously Zhang is still not used to making comedies,” joked Wang Xiaoxi, a reporter from sina.com. He added that in his eyes the show was a success, with the exception of the humorless chapter and featured some unique characteristics of Zhang’s earlier works.

“The setting of the first chapter reminded me of Raise the Red Lantern, while the bamboo forest scene is clearly inspired by House of Flying Daggers.” Wang noted that the dazzling colors and huge crowd, two of Zhang’s signatures, are also reflected in the show.

By inserting his personal features, Zhang clarified earlier rumors that he had not been involved in the production, however he also admitted that his contribution was merely providing conceptual ideas.

“To be frank, Wang and Fan are in charge of most of the detailed work, while I was only involved in the earlier stage of concept and inspiration discussion, the middle stage of overcoming technical obstacles and later stage of how to present the show,” Zhang said, thanking his two partners for giving him enough room to focus on his film career by saying “they are the best to work with.”

Besides Zhang’s personal influence, Impression, Da Hong Pao also stands out with two unique technologies: a 1,988-seat stand, which can turn 360 degrees and a short film shown during the production on 15 screens installed among Wuyi Mountain’s real views.

According to Wang Chaoge, the 360-degree-spinning stand broadens audiences’ field of vision from the traditional angle of looking at one stage, to watching three stages continuously.

“When a scene finishes on one stage, the stand immediately spins to another stage, in the surroundings of green mountains and blue water,” commented Liang Guang, a local tea store owner, “which is really fascinating and a performance experience I have never had.”

According to Zhang, it is the production team’s wish to build the Impression series into a brand to represent Chinese art and culture, like Disney is to America. Different from Disney, whose parks have been expanded by repetition, the Impression series will continue to improve, with revolutions both in concepts and technologies, Zhang said.

The next in the Impression series will be in Putuo, Zhejiang Province and will premiere before the end of the year, according to the production team.

Zhang paid a visit to Taiwan last week to discuss creating Impression, Riyue Lake, possibly the seventh installment in the series.

Source: Global Times

Category: News@Mount Wuyi