Hamilton to Present The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera
October 16 at 8 p.m. in Wellin Hall
Contact: Michelle Reiser-Memmer (315) 859-4331
September 23, 2004
Hamilton College Performing Arts opens its Classical Connections series with The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera, on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m. in Wellin Hall.
For many people, the word "opera" conjures an image of the fat lady standing on stage singing in a foreign language. Now imagine a small army of performers somersaulting across the stage, twirling spears and tossing swords, executing superb martial arts moves–all the while singing melodiously, costumed in magnificent silk brocades and multi-colored makeup. That is the wonder that audiences will find when they go to see The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera, which is coming to theaters across the Northeast in October and November.
This action-packed performance by the International Monkey King Troupe shows off Beijing Opera as one of the most dynamic forms of theater in the world, blending singing and dialogue with acrobatic tumbling and kung-fu fighting, with costumes that sparkle with silk brocades and faces painted with bright stylized masks. Beijing Opera has been called "an artistic ocean"– the only art form that encapsulates Chinese culture and history, literature, music, dance, acrobatics, stage fighting, and acting as well as the fine arts of face painting, and the magnificent imperial costumes of the past; in Beijing Opera all these elements are brought together into one integrated form.
The International Monkey King Troupe is a 17-person company based in Beijing that draws on the talented students, graduates and senior masters of the National Academy of Beijing Opera. The leader of the Troupe is Ghaffar Pourazar, a British performer who was the first foreigner to complete the arduous training at the National Academy. Their mission is to make Beijing Opera accessible to a worldwide audience. Their shows incorporate an introduction to the Beijing Opera form, and the dialogue of selected scenes is spoken in English. Among his many innovative efforts, Ghaffar directed Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Beijing Opera style for the National Troupe of China. While Ghaffar Pourazar brings such artistic innovations to this classical art form, renowned opera master Shaohua Zhang, co-director of the troupe, sustains the authentic traditions of the Beijing Opera.
Since 2004 is the Year of the Monkey, The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera includes three action-packed plays that draw on the fables of the Monkey King, the greatest of all Chinese myth cycles. These three tales follow the Monkey King Sunwukong, a magically powerful but extremely mischievous "superhero" or "warrior clown", as he accompanies the Buddhist monk Xuanzang on his journey to India to seek the Buddhist scriptures. The stories were collected in the 16th century novel, Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en. The adventures in this performance are The Dragon King's Palace, The Iron Fan Princess, and Havoc in Heaven. These episodes were chosen for their excitement, action and stories that are easy to follow for an audience that is unfamiliar with these legends--legends that are as familiar to most Chinese as the Wizard of Oz is to most Americans.
The 2004 tour of The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera will visit 14 universities and performing arts centers in the northeast, including Hamilton, Cornell University, St. Lawrence University, University at Buffalo, Hobart and William Smith College, Hamilton College, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the University of Rochester,Swarthmore College, Purchase College and NYU.
Tickets for this event are $18 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for students. All seating is general admission. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at (315) 859-4331. Box office hours are 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays.