The highest expression of Chinese culture will come to the University of Rochester as the International Theatre Program, in conjunction with the Eastman School of Music and Cornell University’s East Asia Program, presents The Adventures of the Monkey King: a Beijing Opera, with three performances beginning Sunday, Oct. 24.
The colorful and exciting spectacular is performed by The International Monkey King Troupe, a company of 15 actors and musicians, all of whom are highly regarded performers in their field or students from the National Academy for Traditional Chinese Opera. Based in Beijing, the troupe is led by Ghaffar Pourazar, a British performer and the first Westerner to complete training at the National Academy, in bringing Beijing Opera to a worldwide audience. The ensemble has toured in Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States and has performed at the Zheng Yi Ci Theatre in Beijing.
The Adventures of the Monkey King: a Beijing Opera is scheduled to run in Todd Theater on the River Campus at 8 p.m. on Oct. 24 and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, and Tuesday, Oct. 26. Tickets are $10 for University of Rochester students with ID and $25 for the general public. Seating is limited and reservations can be made by calling the Todd Theater box office at (585) 275-4088.
Often referred to as “an artistic ocean,” Beijing Opera weaves face painting, dance, costume making, history, culture, acrobatics, stage fighting, music, literature, and acting into one performance. Originating in the provinces of Anhui and Hubei in southeastern China, Beijing Opera has existed for more then 200 years and is said to have as many forms as the Chinese language has dialects.
The Adventures of the Monkey King derives from three plays based on the fables of the well-known Chinese myth of the Monkey King. All three plays—The Iron Fan Princess, Havoc in Heaven, and The Dragon King’s Place—deal with the Monkey King as a mythical hero and some of his exciting and dramatic adventures.
Pourazar, who plays the Monkey King, is joined onstage by Shaohua Zhang, the 65-year-old co-director of the troupe who specializes in the Warrior Clown character, the most physically demanding character in Beijing Opera. Along with other members of the company, they will hold a workshop for students as part of their appearance on campus.