Outdoor theater production in China blends modern with traditional cultural art forms

China’s blend of art traditions, mixing the modern with the traditional, and the secular with the religious, is quite evident in the production of “Zen Shaolin” that is being shown at an outdoor theater in Henan Province.

From what I read in the New York Times article about the production, for anyone heading to China, or who is in China now, I’d take this in if I had the chance. Earlier today, I posted a video of the production of Swan Lake by the Guangdong Acrobatics Troupe of China. Multiply that several times, and you might come close to what I imagine “Zen Shaolin” must be like.

“Zen Shaolin” has a cast of 500 people, for example, and was created by Tan Dun, the guy who composed the music to “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”

How big is the backstage, I wonder? Along with the cast of hundreds, the backdrop is a valley in the mountains near Shaolin Temple. How cool is that?

The set is elaborate as to not be dwarfed by the surroundings, and from the description of the storyline, the production blends ancient Chinese tales, martial arts, Zen Buddhism and modern day sensibilities.

One of the reasons for the creation of this outdoor theater production is to bring tourists to the area. There have been 300,000 who have come so far. Just another version of the story “If you build it they will come.” That is if you have a good idea and the timing is right.

In the case of “Zen Shaolin,” I’d say it sounds like pay dirt. (For more photos, check out the NY Times slide show)