CTW’s extensive selection original theatrical productions, created over the last 23 years are magical blendings of Chinese and Western cultural forms and theater styles (dance, puppetry, drama, music) that stretch the boundaries of traditional genres of performance and create connections across continents and ages. Conceived and directed by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, they are mostly English based productions. They vary in size from solo performances to full stage productions with ensembles of over a dozen performers and musicians. There are adults, kids and family programs.
Little Red Riding Hood: The Chinese Opera (Original opera) 京昆小紅帽
Little Red Riding Hood: The Chinese Opera retells in English (dialogue) and Chinese (song) the timeless fable of a young girl’s journey to grandma’s house and transforms it into a cross-cultural journey for audiences of all ages. Using the classic Western story as a window, audiences experience the full range of traditional Chinese Theater technique and aesthetics including breathtaking stage acrobatics and martial arts, music, dance, song, pantomime, stylized face painting and elaborate hand-sewn silk costumes. Conceived and directed by Kuang Yu Fong, Little Red draws its inspiration from classical masterpieces, taking well-known scenes from the traditional opera repertoire and seamlessly integrating them into the story, together with dashes of American humor that makes it immediately accessible to a wide audience.
Selected Venues: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYU, American Museum of Natural History.
Chang-Er Flies to the Moon (Original Shadow Play) 嫦娥奔月
Chang-Er Flies to the Moon explores the famous legend of the Chinese Moon goddess and her husband, the archer/hero Ho Yi. CTW’s adaptation uses a live storyteller and vivid overhead projector shadow puppetry (with images based on antique Chinese leather shadow figures) to translate for contemporary American audiences, their timeless story of love and estrangement caught up in the machinations of heavenly and earthly conflicts.
Selected Venues: American Museum of Natural History, NYC; Museum of the Chinese in America, NYC; HERE Center for the Performing Arts, NYC.
Mulan: Holding Half the Sky (Original Play) 巾幗英雄
Mulan: Holding Up Half the Sky presents episodes from 2500 years of Chinese history, as seen through the lives of four outstanding women warriors: Hua Mulan (5th Century), Hongxian (9th Century), She Saihua (12th Century), and Qiu Jin (early 20th Century). Episodes from their stories are portrayed in a fluid, shifting landscape with various styles of puppetry (including rod, hand, shadow, fabric and object manipulation), music, dance and traditional Chinese opera. The text, based on classical Chinese literature and opera sources, is presented in English and Mandarin, and is designed for both family and adult audiences.
Selected Venues: Eugene O'neill Theater Center, CT; Flushing Town Hall, NYC; National Puppet Festival, UCONN, CT.
Tiger Tales (Original Shadow Play) 老虎的故事
Tiger Tales is an artful fusion of traditional Chinese and contemporary Western shadow theater techniques. A wise old rabbit recounts stories from her eventful life to her young granddaughter-- including how she came to be the Prime Minister to Tiger, the ever-hungry jungle king. Four linked tales, using a live storyteller and images based on antique Chinese leather shadow figures, trace Tiger’s sudden rise and disastrous fall and impart humorous lessons on survival for the small and powerless in today’s modern jungle.
Selected Venues: Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY; DALA Theater Festival, Korea; Shanghai First International Puppetry Festival, China.
Solo Whitesnake (Original Shadow Play) 數碼獨角皮影白蛇傳
Shadow/Point Whitesnake is a unique, solo spectacle that fuses music, Powerpoint projections, and traditional shadow puppetry into a performance style that is ephemeral in form, flexible in scale and suitable for any sized performing venue. The well-known romance of Whitesnake (a magical snake spirit who takes on human form and is a gifted healer, lover, mother and fierce warrior) is a favorite in every genre of Chinese literature, stage performance and opera. CTW’s production uses a live storyteller, flanked by projections of over 200 brilliantly colored images (based on antique Chinese leather shadow figures) translates this ancient legend for contemporary American audiences of all ages.
Selected Venues: Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, UCONN; NYC Public Libraries Tour.
Hao Bang-Ah, Zodiac! (Original Hand Puppet) 好棒啊，猴子!
Each year of the Chinese calendar cycle, CTW honors the reining Zodiac Animal with a rollicking puppet production that features traditional Taiwanese-style style glove puppets, songs, folk tales, games, audience participation and other surprises designed to delight and entertain kids and adults alike. Fast-paced skits (many based on well-known Chinese idioms, proverbs and songs), together with Lion and Dragon dances, explanations of Chinese holiday customs, and post-show puppet demos) make these programs popular any time of the year.
Selected Venues: IgniVox LES Festival, NYC; Beat Festival,NYC; UNIMA-USA Teatro SEA, NYC.
Day Jobs/Opera Dreams (Original Play with Opera) 打工京劇夢
Day Jobs, Opera Dreams builds on the moving personal stories of immigrant Chinese Opera artists, who have recently moved to New York City. It explores issues of cultural migration and dramatizes the bitterness and hope of immigrant life and the enormous tension between the day jobs that feed them and the art they have studied from childhood. Their journeys to the West are told through a blend of personal narrative, traditional opera, contemporary dance, video and other performance techniques.
Selected Venues: Harry De Jur Playhouse, NYC; Theatre for the New City, NYC; Elmhurst College, MA.
A Day at the Office (Original Opera) 辦公室的一天
Inspired by the movement and staging of traditional Peking Opera, this contemporary dance theater piece combines Western and Chinese performance technique to tell a story of three women in a modern corporate office. This compelling solo theater piece alternates with deft precision between the portrayal of a harried, overworked corporate secretary, her imperious boss, and the Chinese opera characters that inhabit the secretary’s daydreams. Ultimately, dreams win out. Using the gestural language and choreography of Chinese Opera and an original English language text, this short piece is a perfect fusion of traditional Chinese theatre and western theater technique.
Selected Venues: Michigan Women's Festival, NC; Sister Fire Festival, Washington, D.C; University of Kentucky, KY.
Monkey King and the Mountain of Fiery Tongues (Original Shadow Play) 火焰山
Commissioned in 2014 by Chicago’s Field Museum to be on permanent display in their new Chinese Culture Wing, this production presents an episode from the epic novel, “Journey to the West” in which all the magical resources of Monkey are put to the test, in a battle of wits and transformations with Princess Iron Fan in order to find the means to douse the fires on the blazing mountain blocking the path of the pilgrims. A dazzling, live animation (using colorful shadow figures based on antique leather figures) performed in the style of traditional shadow shows, brought forward into the 21st century for English speaking audiences, this production is a great introduction to the World’s oldest form of motion picture entertainment.
Selected Venues: International Puppet Theater Festival, Greece; Field Museum, IL.