After months and months of hard work, both on and off the stage, the moment had finally arrived – the premier of Legend of the Conch Shell! The guest of honour was no other than His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, the spiritual guide of Kechara House.
It had all the hallmarks of a world class performance – a stellar cast, stunning visual effects, awe-inspiring music and wonderful choreography that made full use of the professional and amateur dancers’ capabilities.
Legend of the Conch Shell covers the entire lifestory of the great saint Lama Tsongkhapa. The play opens with the offering of the conch shell to Buddha Shakyamuni and the prophecy he made of the boy who would be reborn to revive the Buddhadharma in Tibet in degenerate times. The storyline also focuses on Tsongkhapa’s great deeds and retreats, right until his parinirvana at the age of 62.
Despite being entirely in Chinese, the play keeps true to its Tibetan origins, with use of traditional costumes and the sonorous sounds of the gyaling (long horn) and fear not if you can’t understand Chinese or Tibetan! English subtitles are available for the audience but they are hardly required, so clear is the storyline through the rhythmic movements of the dancers!
Legend of the Conch Shell‘s storyline is also told through the very capable narrative of an engaging Yong Lip Kiong who weaves his way through the play seamlessly wearing modern clothing, a stark contrast to the rich traditional costumes of the other dancers.
Feature moments of the play include an electrifying mara (demonic) scene that caught the attention of an audience who had, up until that point, only been exposed to the gentle and beautifully remixed versions of Migtsema used throughout the play. With their long tangled, matted white hair, the discordant music complemented the maras’ flailing jerky movements akin to contortionism…