The Liu Sanjie show is an outdoor performance set in real mountains and rivers in Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a county at the end of the magnificent Li River tour (read my previous blog) from Guilin, in northeastern Guangxi, China.
The Liu Sanjie show is staged at the 2km stretch along Li River with 12 mountain peaks as the background. So unlike performances with traditional stage, here we get a show with natural background. This picturesque scenery with various mountain peaks, reflections in the clear water, misty rain, and bamboo forests along with the sound of animals in their natural environment are unique to the performance.
The Liu Sanjie show is directed by the famous film director Zhang Yi Mou. He is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and has won numerous awards and recognitions in international film festivals such as Silver Lion and Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, and the Golden Bear . Zhang also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, which received international acclaim.
It took Zhang Yi Mou three and half years to finish preparations for launching the Liu Sanjie show. The performance lasts for 70 minutes and more than 600 actors and actresses are involved. All the actors of the show are local villagers and fishermen, particularly local minority groups as Zhuang and Yao, who have practiced meticulously. At March 20, 2004 the premiere of the Liu Sanjie lightshow was a huge outdoor performance with 1800, now there are about 3000 seats. Three shows daily, all fully booked during peak season.
Liu Sanjie is a story that originates from the Zhuang minority people (read my blog about Longji Rice Terraces). The story is about a legendary Zhuang woman singer called Liu Sanjie, which means “third sister”. The legend tells the tale of Liu Sanjie who had a beautiful voice at very early age. Her voice is so beautiful that attracted a gangster named Mo Huairen. The gangster falls in love with Liu Sanjie and wished to make her his concubine. As Liu Sanjie refuses, Mo Huairen attempts to kill her.
Liu Sanjie’s boyfriend, Li Xiaoniu, and his friends in the village free her and the couple escape turning themselves in a pair of larks (a small bird with beautiful singing).
This Liu Sanjie show is also called Impression Show, as it is focused on impressions rather than the plot, characters. We can watch a bunch of impression, these impressions from the landscape and people's life, with the back ground of mountains on the river stage. The magnificent ligthing system, music and modern visual technology makes the show a magical impression of the Liu Sanjie story. Zhang Yimou uses the natural resources of Yangshuo to give his show a maximum effect. The usage of lights and water emphasizes the beauty of the Li River and the limestone mountains in a way never seen before.
At March 20, 2004 the premiere of the Liu Sanjie lightshow was a huge outdoor performance with 1800, now there are about 3000 seats. Three shows daily, all fully booked during peak season.
Liu Sanjie is divided into four main parts.
The first is called the Red show with long red silk flowing on the river, giving the impression of fisherman throwing out their nets and drawing them in again, as they balance precariously on bamboo rafts. It is an amazing act.
Then followed by the Green show which give the impression of the daily life of the people of the Li River. Smoke curling upwards from cooking pots, women washing, in the fields, fishing, all the everyday things in their lives.
Then followed by the Blue Impressions, love song of Liu Sanjie the bathing bride in the river, even the moon caught up in this love song.
Knowing that Mo Huairen will surely get the magistrate’s support and attempt at Liu Sanjie’s life, the villagers urge her to keep herself from harm’s way for the time being. Liu Sanjie says goodbye to them and embarks on her journey with her lover Li Xiaoniu.
Lastly the Silver show, the grand finale, in gold and silver costume change, giving impression of Liu Sanjie and Li Xiaoniu living happily ever after. .
That is the touching Liu Sanjie legend about Liu Sanjie, performed along the Li River with the background of mountains, enhanced by excellent sound and lighting system. It is a great combination of legend, nature, technology, singing, choreography, and the Zhuang culture. What a fantastic show it is ..!