Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Divine Deception

Large, portable metal and glass signage goes up every day in front of the San Francisco Opera House, advertising the operas currently playing in repertory. This is followed by the San Francisco Ballet's signage for "The Nutcracker" in December and its repertory season in the winter and spring.

This month a new pair of posters has gone up flanking those for the opera's productions of "Idomeneo" and "Boris Godunov," and it's for a "Chinese New Year's Spectacular" which is going to be performing at the Opera House for a week in January. The producing group is called Divine Performing Arts (click here). They are sponsored by the New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television network, which is a front for the Falun Gong cult.

Two years ago, I innocently went to an earlier version of this show with my friend Sid Chen who has "The Standing Room" blog (click here). I took photos and he wrote a frankly hilarious description of the exceedingly weird show which was a mixture of amateurish dance numbers and Falun Gong propaganda. This was published on the SFist site (click here), the People's Republic of China officially denounced the show two weeks later, and since then news outlets around the world have run with our scoop and confirmed it (click here for the L.A. Times and click here for the Toronto Star).

When I asked the woman at the San Francisco Opera box office how they felt about having their production posters being flanked by Falun Gong Extravaganza posters, she said that the opera company didn't have any say in the matter, and that it was the Performing Arts Center administrators who were responsible, which is something I confirmed at their offices in the Veterans Building.

"Isn't this sort of strange and deceptive, having those posters up right next to the San Francisco Opera ones?" I asked the friendly bureaucrat. "It looks like the opera is putting on a sequel to 'The Bonesetter's Daughter' where Ruthie joins the Falun Gong and finds Truth." He laughed and said the word had come from the top, that if somebody rented the opera house out for a whole week, they could advertise in any way they wished.

Personally, I have nothing against the Falun Gong group, but they aren't doing themselves any favors with this bait-and-switch entertainment scheme. Tickets are $30-$180, which is about the same as the San Francisco Opera, and they are simply delusional if they think their show is at the same level of professionalism.

1 comment:

golf said...

Just on the last remark, many people who make it their business to know these things would disagree:



btw, I practice Falun Gong, I think it's sort of the same whether "Falun Gong" or "Falun Dafa" goes on the flyers or not. it's not some kind of warning message, nor is it propaganda or deceptive not to have this on the flyers. There's a whole lot of cultural and religious elements in the show, Falun Gong being but one of them. In the end, it seems to make sense to me either way.

Ultimately, since there are people like you (and I'm not saying you're wrong, by the way) who get upset or annoyed when it's not mentioned, I think it would just be better to have a note on the flyers or whatever. It is being done this way in many cities around the world now, surprised not in San Francisco.

Either way, I don't think it's a problem--what is the big deal, after all? Totally surprised you didn't think it was a great show though, what a shame!