“Impression Hainan” is the latest live theatre performance from the acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou, the architect of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies and award winning films “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero.”
As the first and only ocean staged live performance in China, “Impression Hainan” represents the essence of Hainan life – the history, uniqueness, ocean, flora and local traditions – featuring over 250 performers, made up of local boys and girls with an average age of 19 and displaying a wide variety of dance, costumes, fireworks, videos combined with stage design and enchanting lighting displays all on an open air stage with views of the ocean some 50m away.
It is the first major work from Zhang Yimou, together with his directorial partners Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue, the so called “Golden Triangle” team, since the 2008 Beijing Games.
“Whenever we go somewhere, we first discuss what the tourists want to see there,” said Zhang Yimou.
“Hainan has ethnic groups, the poet Su Shi in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) wrote famous poetry here and the story that was adapted into the most famous Chinese ballet, Red Detachment of Women, happened here. But to most of today's tourists, Hainan is a paradise resort destination that allows them to escape from the hustle and bustle back in the city.”
“When the financial crisis hit the world, depressed people in the city slowed down and anxiously looked for answers to the way ahead. Everybody wants to relax, enjoy life and get close to nature. It is what I enjoy here and we would like to share it with every audience.”
“If you feel relaxed and touched by the fun we tried to create in the 70 minutes, then the show has succeeded."
That goal was certainly achieved.
As the stage transforms from being a pool full of real water to a dry floor, the audience is left in wonder and astonishment, trying to comprehend how such a stunning transformation could take place right before their eyes.
“Impression Hainan” focuses on the theme of escaping from the bustle of everyday life and returning to nature. “It’s a human being’s basic desire for a happy life,” said Han Shaogong, chairman of Hainan Cultural and Arts Federation.
“The sea, sunshine, beach and coconut trees - these are basic elements of a coastal resort and Impression Hainan makes good use of all these. It's a good chance for tourists to enjoy the natural scenery during the day, then watch a dreamy show with high-tech lighting, water stage and visual effects,” said writer Jiang Zidan after the premiere.
Oil painter Liu Guibin described the show as “a big party” in which the audience and young performers had fun together. “The tourists don't come to Hainan to see big stars or high-brow opera,” he said. “The happy music and dancing, pretty girls and boys and magic visual effects are what they want to see.”
Since the show premiered on the 3 April 2009, it has sold out almost every night and has quickly become the must-see draw card for Haikou.
“Impression Hainan” shows to a live audience seven nights a week at the Impression Theatre in Haikou, only 2 mins from the luxurious HNA Resort & Spa Haikou. Tickets are 298RNB per person ($A60 approx.).
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