|Laughing In The Wind:|
A Cautionary Tale In Martial Arts
| Open: 04/30/10 Close: 05/23/10
The play is a martial arts epic with a fighting/kicking ensemble of 18 actors playing 26 speaking parts. It is based on a story about friendship and love, deception and betrayal, ambition and lust for power which was originally titled "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" when it was published in 1967, and has been variously translated as "The Smiling, Proud Wanderer" and "State of Divinity."
In the story, various parties are vying to recover a scroll that contains a powerful martial arts technique that can propel the owner to premiere leadership, but are eventually outdone by a young lad, Little Fox, who is devoid of all ambitions. The story deals with Little Fox's journey: his development as a swordsman and his witnessing the various intrigues which take place. Many warlords and fighters from six clans lust after the manuscript, among them the leader of a so-called Five Mountains Alliance. Despite the popularity of Jin Yong's novel, the symbolism of the six clans has never been coherently interpreted. The Five Mountains Clan might be taken to be an indirect reference to the five sacred mountains in China. The various clans have also been interpreted as a parody of one people with multiple political systems.
Jin wrote, in a 1983 epilogue to his book, that the rival clans in his book personify "political prototypes" he observed in China during the Cultural Revolution, without being specific allegories to any particular persons or groups. He asserted, "Only what is rooted in our common humility can withstand the test of time and have lasting value." The book has been adapted into three major movies ("The Swordsman," 1991; "The Swordsman II," 1992; and "The East is Red," 1993) and a 40-episode TV series ("Laughing in the Wind"). The title "Laughing in the Wind" refers to a piece of music jointly created in friendship by two elderly swordsmen of opposing clans, which eventually leads to their tragic deaths.
Jin's "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" was originally serialized in his newspaper, the Ming Pao Daily of Hong Kong, as well as in 21 other newspapers in various languages. Its leading characters have sometimes surfaced in political dialogues around the world, with one politician accusing another of acting like Master Yue (hypocritically) or Master Zho (harboring secret ambitions to become dictator).
The Martial Arts genre is a relatively recent literary development in the context of thousands of years of literary tradition in China. Joanna Chan suspects that its unsurpassed popularity, with the recurring them of revenge, may have an impact on the Chinese psyche – an acceptance without question the vengeful spirit of an-eye-for-an-eye, however justified the cause, and a cynicism towards the rule of law.
Joanna Chan originally received permission to adapt Jin Yong's book in 1989 for the International Arts Festival in Hong Kong, while she was Artistic Director of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. The premiere, performed in Cantonese, was attended by Jin himself.
Now, Yangtze has requested and received permission from Jin Yong to restage the production in New York with different designers, a multi-ethnic cast (Asian, African-American and Caucasian, all martial artists and dancers) and an original score, with bilingual subtitles. The production will be in English, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, with Chinese and English subtitles.
Fight choreographer is David ChienHui Shen (Taiwan; www.davidshendance.com). Set design is by Yoki Lai (Hong Kong, http://www.yokilai.com). An original score is being created by Sam Su Seng (China). Costume Design is by David ChienHui Shen and Yoki Lai. Lighting Design is by Joyce Liao (Taiwan).
The actors, all martial artists and dancers, are Wayne Chang, Rachel Filsoff, Aki Goto, Zane Hayes, Carl Ka-Ho Li, Ashley Liang, Ajia Maximillian, Phillip Redmond, Adrian Sinclair, Peter Song, Derrick St. Hill, Rashawn Strife, Steven Sun, Stephanie Willing, Sen Yang, Cedric Yau, Sarah Yu and Jie Zhuang.
|Ren Ah, Ren (you, O You Humans)
| Open: 06/02/05 Close: 06/19/05
Based novel by Dai HouYing, about the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Even those who lived through China's Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) could not have anticipated what would come next. The Great Leap Forward was an extraordinary scheme conceived by Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong to accelerate dramatically China's economic development. It led to an estimated 30 million deaths by starvation.
Using a handful of fictional characters based on her own experience, Ms. Dai (1938-1996) allowed a glimpse into the harrowing journey of the privileged class (the intellectuals) from youthful conviction and unquestioning commitment to Mao's vision of the utopia, through, in the author's own words, "the painful groaning of a twisted soul, and the sparkle of a living spirit in darkness," to a terrifying awakening to their own humanity."
The play views the Cultural Revolution through the eyes of three people in a love triangle: two men, Ho and Zhao, and a woman, Sun. Although they have the bonds of love and friendship and are united in the struggle for a new China, the Maoist system forces them into positions against each other in a sequence of horrible betrayals.