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.
About the Company: Yangtze Repertory Theatre
Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America was founded in 1992 to produce works for and by Asian artists. Since then, it has become New York's most significant entry point for dramatic works from Chinese-speaking countries and a place of collaboration for artists from various parts of Asia.
Thurs - Sat at 7:30 PM
Sun at 3:00 PM
Theater: Theater for the New City
Address: 155 First Avenue
Cost:$25.00; $20.00 Seniors/Students; TDF accepted. 20% discount for groups of 10 and above.
Buy Tickets Online or Call: Ovation Tickets at 866-811-4111