A Magnificent Hakka Children’s Play in Taiwan: ‘Rain Horse’

The giant blue 'Rain Horse.'

The giant blue 'Rain Horse' in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Featuring eye-catching installations with special effects, stunts, singing, dancing, and colorful stage design, Rain Horse, or Yu Ma (雨馬), is a distinctive Hakka theatrical production for children.

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It was sponsored by the Hakka Affairs Council, a ministerial-level government agency under Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, to promote the Hakka culture and Hakka language in Taiwan.

The giant art installation of the Rain Horse is moved from the archway to the center of the plaza for the performance.
The giant art installation is moved from the archway to the center of the plaza for the performance. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Story

The special Hakka show was adapted from an interesting bedtime story picture book titled Rain Horse, written by famous local Hakka novelist Hsiao Yeh (小野) about 30 years ago. 

The bedtime story picture book titled 'Rain Horse' by famous Taiwanese Hakka novelist Hsiao Yeh.
The bedtime story picture book titled ‘Rain Horse’ by famous Taiwanese Hakka novelist Hsiao Yeh. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Settled on a high mountain, there once existed a unique village populated by two tribes. One thing special about the tribal settlement was that a miraculous horse would descend from the sky whenever it was going to rain. Nobody knew what color the horse really was, as it always changed colors very quickly.

The distinctive Hakka theatrical production is a delight for children and adults alike.
 The distinctive Hakka theatrical production is a delight for children and adults alike. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

The story nevertheless centered around three courageous kids who tried to alleviate the conflicts between the two tribes who were suffering from the monkeypox virus and a drought.

The giant Rain Horse spurts white smoke from time to time when it moves.
The giant Rain Horse spurts white smoke from time to time when it moves. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Events

The performance was organized by a famous Taiwanese children’s theater troupe, “Paper Windmill,” and was held at the plaza between the National Concert Hall and the National Theater at Taipei’s iconic Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in mid-March 2021.  

The performance of the Hakka children's drama show at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The performance of the Hakka children’s drama show at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. (Image: Julia Fu via Nspirement)

The highlight of this show was an enormous blue Rain Horse, which was 10 meters (32.8 feet) high, 13 meters (42.6 feet) long, and 4.5 meters (14.7 feet) wide at the shoulders. Moreover, the three-story-high horse had a rainbow-colored mane and tail. It was moved slowly from the Memorial’s enormous white archway to the center of the plaza during the performance. 

There are some mini installations of 'Rain Horses' at the plaza of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to entertain the children.
There are some mini installations of ‘Rain Horses’ at the plaza of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to entertain the children. (Image: Julia Fu via Nspirement)

Additionally, the striking giant statue was displayed at the plaza of the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall for two days after the completion of the performances at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

The performance of 'Rain Horse' in front of the National Concert Hall at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The performance of ‘Rain Horse’ in front of the National Concert Hall at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. (Image: Julia Fu via Nspirement)

Significance 

Since Hakka people are one of the linguistic minorities in Taiwan, the event was aimed at promoting Hakka culture and the Hakka language, and showing caring and blessings through performing arts while the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent around the world.

The National Concert Hall at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The National Concert Hall at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

In the meantime, as Taiwan is faced with its worst drought in 56 years, the Hakka Affairs Council also hoped that the miraculous Rain Horse would be able to bring more rainfall to ease the current alarming drought situation in Taiwan.

The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is surrounded by a wide variety of beautiful flowers.
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is surrounded by a wide variety of beautiful flowers. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

The Hakka Affairs Council actively promotes Hakka culture in Taiwan. Over the years, a variety of similar events have been held one after another. 

In 2010, the first Hakka children’s musical drama performance in the world, Hey, Small Kid (Hey, A Di Gu! 嘿!阿弟牯) was presented. Thereafter, the Tale of Tonghua Island (桐花島的故事),” and the JhugeShiro (Hero of Heroes 諸葛四郎) were performed in 2016 and 2019 respectively. All of these extravaganzas have truly been a delight for children and adults alike over the years.

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