Mulan the Musical: China’s only female percussion group presents new show
From the Red Poppy Percussion Ensemble comes this new telling of the Chinese legend
Last seen by Scottish audiences during the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony, the Red Poppy Percussion Ensemble is known for many things – but most notably for being the only female drumming group in China.
Founded in 1999, the group regularly performs all over the world, merging traditional Chinese folk instruments with physical theatre and multimedia. Creative director, Li Zhou explains how it all began: ‘When we first started in 1999, it was just to promote one young female percussionist in Europe,’ she recalls. ‘But the performance received such critical acclaim, we've continued to expand ever since.
‘In China, the female gender is related to qualities such as softness and weakness – women are water. The art of percussion is made up of rhythm and passion, and it's quite a fiery form. To contrast softness and passion, water and fire, creates something special and electrifying.’
Now, the ensemble is touring Scotland with the tale of another strong female – Mulan. Based on a Chinese legend from over 1,500 years ago, Mulan the Musical depicts a young woman who disguises herself as a man, in order to fight in place of her elderly father.
‘This traditional tale is known to everyone in China, and the Disney film took the story to a global audience,’ says Li Zhou. ‘Through music and movement, we tell the story in a much more contemporary way that's entertaining and fun.
‘Wherever we play, the performers’ technique and energy never fails to excite the audience, adults and children alike.’