I’m sitting in a theater with three friends watching the new, critically acclaimed production Legend of the Camel Bells (驼铃传奇 tuólíng chuánqí). Set in Chang’an during the Tang Dynasty, it is a show about life and its many flavors. Poignant scenes capture the diverse range of human experience: Lovers bid farewell and reunite; men leave their homes to embark on grand adventures; an old mother grieves for her lost son; tired miners find solace in the light of the Buddha.
We marvel at the moving scores, dazzling dances, and colorful, evocative sets – including real camels! (Oh, and did I mention the rotating stage?) The show is overflowing with raw emotion and broad, universal power as it conveys what it means to be human. Tearing up one moment, grinning ear to ear the next, we watch, spellbound, as the drama of humanity unfolds on stage.
The final act is set in the splendid Tang imperial court — a glorious profusion of gold and red, complete with troupes of dancers and musicians all dressed in elaborate costumes. As the action ends, the performers spontaneously break into mass dance to a silly electronic beat. This is the closing number:
A stroke of genius! After all the melodrama, after all the vicissitudes of fortune depicted in the previous scenes, the show now concludes with a refreshingly comical return to the basics of life.
As for the song’s name…we have no idea. But judging by the lyrics, let’s call it the Haha Song (哈哈歌 hāhā gē), shall we?
哈哈哈, 我们哈哈哈, 大家一起笑哈哈!
Everybody just laugh — hahaha!
Put a smile on your face — hahaha!
Safe, healthy, and happy, let us rejoice and laugh — hahaha!
These simple (and amusing) lyrics contain a great deal of wisdom. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our hurried lives to appreciate the beauty around us. With its ending song, Legend of the Camel Bells invites us to laugh in celebration of life, its many flavors, and the simple pleasures of ordinary existence. An earnest, life-affirming, and heartwarming message.
For more information about the show Legend of the Camel Bells (there was a rotating stage!), check out this China Daily story.