Cross-language Cultural and Artistic Expression: 2021 Hakka Children’s Drama “Rain Horse”


The Hakka Affairs Council and Paper Windmill Theater co-produced the 2021 Hakka children’s theatrical work “Rain Horse.” It is Paper Windmill’s first new creative work after the troupe went through the coronavirus pandemic and a fire. Rain Horse’s “heavyweight” performers showed up at the start of March in the plaza between the National Theater and National Concert Hall and their intensive rehearsals sparked a lot of buzz on the internet.
 
Hakka children’s theatrical work “Rain Horse'

From its inspiration to its completion, the production took over a year. Paper Windmill Theater set a creative goal to use their accumulated 29 years and over 5,000 performances all around Taiwan to make a break with their own experience of creative works and also the audience’s theatergoing experience. Artistic director Lee Yung-feng said, “This generation’s theater troupes have to compete with cell phones, cartoons and video games. The theater’s future lies in making a break with existing stages, it needs proactive moves and continual experimentation. [We] can’t control whether it will succeed or not, but must bravely break through in order to move forward.” Accordingly, the conceptualization of the overall space deliberately adopts a three-sided stage that surrounds the audience. This innovative staging area offers kids a different theatrical experience to watch a play in a cultural center or theater.
 
'Rain Horse' was performed one evening

The year and more of preparation was very arduous. At the design stage, the Rain Horse of the play underwent over 100 revisions. During the preliminary power test, the horse’s feet were destroyed by fire and had to be remade. Heavy rain disrupted the assembly of the performance area. The majority of the performers taking part in rehearsals were not Hakka but were working hard to learn the language. The troupe especially hired Hakka language instructor Hsieh Hsiao-ling to teach the actors and go over their lines word by word. In the chilly nights of early spring, the performers rehearsed amid the cold wind over and over again. The lighting crew adjusted the lights into the early hours of the morning, and the tech crew matched the plot of the play by pushing around the big rain horse that weighed up to seven tonnes. Rain Horse is presented as a fairytale and though the piece has no tangible Hakka objects, the resolution of Paper Windmill to use their theater expertise to pay tribute to the Hakka people demonstrates another side of the obstinate Hakka spirit.
 
The statue of 'Rain Horse' was displayed at Liberty Square