For the last couple of weeks we'd seen this poster around SweetieMe's old stomping grounds. Both of us wanted to see it- Billed as a Chinese New Year Spectacular, we were expecting acrobats and dancing, fast paced excitement and some awesome martial arts.
We love live shows- we're big fans of musical theater, we see the Shakespeare Festival in San Diego every year, and between the two of us we've seen just about every Cirque du Soleil show that's been produced. Occasionally, we get to see the various travelling Asian cultural shows that come to town. Some of them good, some of them... Not so good.
This show, though. It was terrible.
I've never seen a public performance with such blatant propaganda. It was like watching singers and dancers carry a chip around on their collective shoulders, only it wasn't a chip, it was a granite boulder.
The first clue came when a woman started to sing a song called "Give way to reason," and was all about persecution on the way to truth. I had to laugh- it had nothing to do with reason at all.
But the kicker was a segment called "Persecution on the path to enlightenment," and was a modern dance interpretation of a happy father, practicing Falun Gong, who gets arrested, beaten and killed by leather clad gang members marked with crimson hammers and sickles on their backs. At the end of this mini-drama all is not lost as the father is reincarnated in view of the mourning townsfolk and then ascends to a golden heaven riding a lotus blossom.
I turned to SweetieMe, and unknowingly laughed "Is this a Falun Gong show?" Over the next several segments, the Falun Gong theme got stronger and stronger- songs about persecution and truth, heaven, saviors and wisdom in the face of evidence became more obvious.
I didn't know much about Falun Gong before we saw this show, other than it was a controversial spiritual movement in China and was relatively new. I did some quick research when I got home and discovered that the Falun Gong movement is sort of the Asian equivalent to Scientology, although it's much more political. They both tie into aliens, though!
One blogger summed up my experience perfectly when he wrote:
What I thought would be an energetic, bright and musical show filled with dragons, drums and excitement turned out to be what I imagine a Carnival Cruise is like if controlled by the Falun Gong.That's about right.