Journey to the West
A Legendary Pilgrimage to the Modern West, A New Attempt of Neo-Beijing Opera
“A phantasmagorical, postmodern opera studded with archetypal images and ancient symbols…It was only the most recent piece of evidence that Taiwan is creating the boldest Chinese art in Asia today.” - Newsweek
This ground-breaking musical-drama was a complex visual and aural feast that presented the journey of modern China to the modern West, alluding constantly to the classical Chinese tale of The Monkey and Tripitaka, who journeyed to the ancient “west,” which was India.
The complex script had three parallel story lines, each with a leading male part: Monkey, who is seen from his birth to his imprisonment in the Five Elements Mountain; the first Chinese scholar to travel to America to study in the Ch’ing Dynasty; a modern Taiwanese man who goes to America in search of a green card. The framework is actually three separate journeys by three personages from three different time-space environments, who journey through the same seven "stations." The three lines move sometimes apart, sometimes together, with the theme of going west to bring back scriptures.
The three journeys are presented in Beijing Opera, Opera, and experimental theater styles on the complex stage. In the seven acts, the sets by Alan Kuang-yen Nieh provided a striking visual background for the action.
“It started out at the Five Elements Mountain, a beautiful mythical space, and when it gets to Act Seven, it has transformed into a nuclear waste facility. Human material and psychological waste has been sent underground and has disappeared.” –Taipei Times
Written and Directed by Stan Lai,
Inspired by Wu Chen-en's Ming Dynasty novel Journey to the West
Music Composed and Conducted by Chien-tai Chen
Cast: Lee Li-chun, Ismene Ting, Li Chung-ming, Ma Chuan (soprano), Chen Chien-hua (baritone) and others.
Performance by National Symphony Orchestra
Choir: National Taiwan Normal University Experimental Chorus
Scenic and Lighting Design: Alan Kuang-yan Nieh
Costume and Makeup Design: Pamela Chin
Original Artwork by Chen Chaobao
Choreography by Luo Manfei
Produced by National Theater
Co-produced by Performance Workshop
World Premiere: December 18, 1987, National Theatre, Taipei
Performance Dates: 12/18/1987-12/23-1987