A couple of weeks ago, Travis and I took the kids to see Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in Detroit. Roadside Wedding Banquet is a Taiwanese musical play celebrating the Taiwanese cultural tradition of roadside banquet celebrations.
The National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan performed Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet and it was a beautiful performance. According to the NCO Taiwan website, the group members are considered to be Taiwan’s cultural ambassadors and they tour in America, Asia, and Europe.
“Comprising many distinguished musicians on the music scene, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO) is a national-level orchestra which aims to explore tradition on the local land as well as to embrace the contemporary era. The orchestra establishes the foundation of Taiwan’s traditional music by means of composing,conveys Taiwan’s aesthetic and artistic taste by performing, aims for promoting the traditional and contemporary music in Taiwan, and deepens the beauty of Taiwan with music on the international stage.”Excerpt from “National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO)” by the National Center for Traditional Arts
Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet was a musical performance featured as part of the DIA’s “Friday Night Live!” series. Each Friday night, the DIA hosts extended museum hours (9 A.M. to 10 P.M.) and features special events and programming for all ages. I love “Friday Night Live!” because Fridays just so happen to be our field trip days, and since we don’t like to get up early (Ha!), Friday Night Live! gives us a chance to see the museum in the evening time.
On this particular evening, we attended Friday Night Live! to see the Roadside Wedding Banquet performance and to view the annual art exhibit Ofrendas: Celebrating el Dia de Muertos.
NOTE: Photography wasn’t allowed during the performance so I do not have photographs of the musical. However, we were allowed to take photographs during the curtain call and during the meet and greet.
STUDYING ASIAN CULTURES FOR HOMESCHOOL
For about 3 years now, Michala (17) has been studying various Asian cultures, particularly Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese cultures. She first became interested in studying Asian cultures when she discovered Korean pop music– also known as K-Pop. She’s a HUGE BTS fan and she also loves to watch K-Dramas (Korean soap operas).
Michala’s love for Korean entertainment and music sparked an interest in learning more about the language so she started researching ways to learn Korean for her homeschool studies. We discovered Korean literature at our local library and several online sites for learning the language.
Michala even wants to study abroad in Seoul, Korea when she goes to college. She’s been researching colleges that offer study abroad programs in Korea and Japan. So far, she has found one college in Tennessee that has a great study abroad summer program in Korea.
DISCOVERING MORE ASIAN DRAMAS + MUSIC
Soon Michala discovered many of her favorite K-pop bands sing their songs in Chinese and Japanese, as well. That’s when she found out about the music genre C-Pop (Chinese pop music) and J-Pop (Japanese pop music). This new discovery also led to her interest in watching Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Thai soap operas.
I have watched with Michala many K-dramas, K-pop music videos, and Korean talk shows and I am now HOOKED on ALL OF IT! I love BTS, BlackPink, Got7, Ateez and Red Velvet. I even have a K-Pop playlist on my Spotify. Haha!
(Ohhh! Have you heard J-Hope’s new song? He did a remake of “Chicken Noodle Soup” with Latina singer Becky G. LOVE IT! Every time I listen to it, I start dancing!)
And I LOVE K-dramas! They are entertaining and the storylines are GOOD! I also love learning more about Korean culture with Michala. The K-dramas have taught me a little more about their traditions.
For instance, the Korean dramas do a great job depicting the family dynamic in Korean culture where elders are greatly respected. I also learned it is not uncommon for single men and women to live with their families.
WHAT MICHALA LOVED ABOUT FORMOSA ROADSIDE WEDDING BANQUET
Since Michala has been watching Taiwanese dramas, she was very excited to see another form of Taiwanese entertainment. She said she liked how the musical was very lively and she loved how the play was interactive. There were certain times during the show when the actors would encourage the audience to cheer or clap along.
“I liked that their outfits were traditional Taiwanese outfits,” Michala told me. “And it was a change from the traditional American wedding dresses and tuxedos. I like that the outfits were a very vibrant red color and it was interesting to see that they were both wearing red because the saying goes that the bride should be the only one who’s eye-catching.”
ZHEN’S FAVORITE PART ABOUT THE MUSICAL
Zhen (6) is also a K-pop fan and she likes to watch K-pop videos and some Korean and Japanese-based cartoons. Throughout the play, I would look over at Michala and Zhen to see their reactions to watching Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet. Michala was ALL smiles. I mean, she was smiling BIG! She was clearly very happy to be at the Detroit Film Theatre watching the musical.
Zhen was also smiling often throughout the play. She was either smiling or intently watching the actors singing and talking. It was also her first time seeing a play so it was a special moment.
Zhen said she liked the orchestra most of all because she wants to play in an orchestra, too. Lol! She also loved when the actors greeted the audience at the end of the show and handed out chocolates. I thought that was a very sweet gesture, too.
WHAT THE BOYS THOUGHT OF THE MUSICAL
The boys did pretty well at their first theatre experience. They started to get really antsy about halfway into the play, though. Travis had to take both boys out into the lobby so they could move around and talk.
It’s a good thing, too, because there was one part of the play where the scene called for a quiet and still audience. It was when the master chef and his daughter (the bride) are singing a song about how sad they are because the daughter is moving away with her husband. It was such a beautiful, heartfelt moment. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. Her singing was just beautiful!
TEACHING CULTURAL AWARENESS
“The roadside banquet has long been an integral part of Taiwanese society in Taiwanese culture. Whether the gathering is for the celebration of marriage, religious purposes, or remembering those who have passed on, the Taiwanese banquet brings together family, friends and neighbors– and everyone has a part to play. Friends and relatives bring red or white envelopes to help the host offset expenses. Some may even act as chef’s assistants or servers. The roadside banquet is more than just a feast, however, it’s an opportunity for the community to strengthen their relationships.”Excerpt from “Taiwan’s Heartfelt Banquet” by Professor Lin Mao-Hsien for the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan
I’m happy we were able to take the kids to see the Taiwanese musical Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet. I feel like with homeschooling it’s my chance to share with my kids my love for multicultural literature. It’s something I’m very passionate about and I also enjoy reading.
The Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet was also a wonderful learning opportunity for my little ones. The children were able to learn about diversity in the arts and learn more about a new culture.
Most of all, the happiest thing to hear on our way home was Zhen saying, “I want to visit that big museum again!”
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All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit