August 23, 2016

Past Original Productions

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songs from the yellow earth  黃土地之歌


is a collaboration between Chinese Theatre Works and world-famous theater artist Peter Schumann, founder and director of the Bread & Puppet Theater. In this graphic exploration of the themes of light and darkness and political struggle,   Mr. Schumann uses his brilliant visual artistry is inspired by the poetic works from the “Book of Songs.” (the oldest anthology of poetry in the Chinese language,) and from the historical legends surrounding  Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China, that remains resonent in contemporary China. Created under Mr. Schumann’s direction by members of both companies over a 5 year period, Songs from the Yellow Earth won awards at both the 2008 Yunling International Puppet Festival in Taiwan and the 2012 UNIMA- International Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, China.

Premiere: 2006

Selected Venues: UNIMA-International Puppet Festival, China; Yunling International Puppetry Festival, Taiwan.

Border of Womanhood

Border of Womanhood    女界

An intimate reflection of a dreamy, young girl’s adolescence in Taiwan, her evolution as a woman and her decision to break out and move to New York City.  The struggles between traditional beliefs, images and the limitless possibilities that open up after crossing boundaries into a new world are filtered through dance, classic Chinese Poetry,  Peking Opera and pop music.  Written and choreographed by Kuang-Yu Fong, this production was originally created  in 2001 for the H.T. Chen Dance Company’s Ear to the Ground Festival, with a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

Premiere: 2001

Selected Venues: Emerson College, MA; Mulberry Street Theatre, NYC.

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Kun/Shadow Whitesnake   白蛇傳


The legendary adventures of Whitesnake, a mythic snake spirit gifted with magical healing powers, an enterprising businesswoman, a romantic lover, wife, mother, and a fierce, implacable warrior, are re-envisioned through a rich blend of classic Kun Opera, shadow puppetry and live music.

Premiere: 2001

Selected Venues: Pace University, NYC; Here Center for Performing Arts, NYC; University of Maryland, MD.

Book of Song Image hi

Book of Songs   詩歌

Book of Songs presents poetry from across the span of China's 3000-year literary history, interpreted through traditional Chinese and contemporary Western performing arts, exploring the tensions between ancient and modern, war and peace, sacred and profane, city and nature and woven into a visual and musical score that slides freely between genres of puppetry and performance as it turns smoothly from humorous to serious subjects. The poems used in Book of Songs include children’s songs, folk songs and “mountain love-calling” songs, works by the poets Wang Wei and Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD),  and contemporary pop songs reflecting twentieth-century Chinese experience.  Suitable for family or adult audience, the production encompasses a variety of puppetry techniques – traditional Sha’anxi style shadow, overhead projection, Taiwanese hand puppets, masks, and Western rod and toy theater – as well as Peking opera.

Premiere: 2006

Selected Venue: Harry De Jur Playhouse, NYC.

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Before- After NY   紐約,之前與之後

Before and After New York, was commissioned for the 2015 Performa Biennale. Created in collaboration with Hong Kong based artists, Royce Ng  and Daisy Bisenieks and Kuang-Yu Fong, the project blended sections of  CTW’s  production “Day Jobs/Opera Dreams”, together with a documentary narrative thread concerning the struggles of a Somali businessman trying desperately to make a living in Hong Kong. The performance starred Kenyan/American actor, Irungu Mutu and New York based dancer, An Nuo.

Premiere: 2015

Selected Venue: Performa 15, NYC.

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Toy Theatre Peony Pavilion   玩具社牡丹亭

Toy Theatre Peony Pavilion is a unique  combination of  classic  16th Century Ming Dynasty Kun Opera  (the ancestor of  modern Chinese opera) with contemporary Western toy theater (using a small model proscenium stage and flat, cut-out figures) to tell one of the great epic masterpieces of Chinese dramatic literature. The live actors in full opera costume and makeup blend seamlessly with the small-scale puppets and masks to tell the supernatural romance of a young couple who meet in a dream. When the young lover pines away for her lover and dies of a broken heart, her soul is brought by the Judge of Hell who, touched by her faithfulness, allows her soul to return  to life and reunite with her beloved. Toy Theatre Peony Pavilion is a wonderful introduction to traditional Chinese Opera, suitable for all ages. It has English dialogue and arias sung in the original Chinese. It is the recipient of a UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in Puppetry.

Premiere: 2000

Selected Venues: Walt Disney Concert Hall, CA; International Puppetry Association Convention, GA; Queens Museum of Art, NYC.

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Three Women, Many Plays     三個女人一台台的戲

Three Woman, Many Plays spans almost 70 years and two continents, telling the stories of three border-crossing artists ; Pauline Benton, who founded the pioneering Red Gate Players  and introduce Chinese shadow theater to American audiences in the 1920’s;  Jo Humphrey, the founder of Yueh Lung Shadow Theater in New York City, who restored many of Benton’s shadow figures; and Kuang-Yu Fong, CTW’s founder,  who brought the Benton shadow figures back to the stage in post-9/11 New York City. Three Women, Many Plays narrates this intriguing cultural odyssey from the point of view of Benton’s beloved shadow puppets, and uses a visually exciting blend of traditional and contemporary shadow puppetry  to bring documentary performance together with the classical repertoire. It was first presented for the First Tangshan International Shadow Festival in 2005, where it won awards for Best Playwrighting and Direction, Best Performance and Best short Play.

Premiere: 2005

Selected Venue: First International Shadow Play Art Festival, China.

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Two Horse 二馬

Two Horses tells a story of cultural change and continuity, exploring the presence of the performer in both traditional and contemporary theater with a blend of Peking Opera and Western toy theatre/paper theatre. It presents the compelling story of Chinese Theatre Works’ founder Kuang-Yu Fong’s, and illumintes her compelling  journey towards becoming a Peking Opera artist in late-20th-century Taiwan and New York City.

Premiere: 2007

Selected Venues: Great Small Works 8th International Toy Theatre Festival, NYC; National Puppetry Festival, MN.

Climbing Gold Mountain- Jadine Wong copy

Climbing Gold Mountain   金山夢


Climbing the Gold Mountain premiered at Henry Street Settlement's Harry De Jur Playhouse in 1998. It recounts tales of the Chinese immigrant experience, as they struggle to make a living on "Gold Mountain" (the Chinese term for America,) working in factories, sweatshops, schools, subways, restaurants and offices. Three generations of New York City’s Chinese community recount their  stories of dreams, nightmares, hopes and realities, filtered through  live music, dance, Chinese Opera puppetry, masks and English texts.

Premiere: 1998

Selected Venue: Harry De Jur Playhouse, NYC.

Kasper - with sign

Kasper as a Banana   康仕伯想做美國人

Starring the comic superstar star of the traditional European puppet theater, as a luckless “Fresh off the Boat” immigrant, bitten hard by a materialistic distortion of the American Dream, Kasper as a Banana, is a unique piece of contemporary “object theater.” Using found objects, food items and kitchen utensils, this high energy table-top production careens between visual slapstick  and compelling “docu-theater” concerning the tragic fate of The Golden Adventure (a ship crammed with illegal immigrants from China which ran aground off New York City in 1993.) Rowdy and entertaining enough for kids, it nevertheless raises important  issues of social displacement and powerlessness that are common to every immigrant community newly arrived on American shores.

Premiere: 1993

Selected Venues: Bread and Puppet Theater,VT; Performance Space 122, NYC

Zhang Boils the Ocean

Zhang Boils the Ocean     張生煮海

Based on a Yuan Dynasty (12th Century) dramatic text, Zhang Boils the Ocean recounts the romance between a young scholar and the daughter of the Dragon King. The production was a response to the conflicts and cultural identity issues afflicting young American-born Chinese young people. Originally premiered at Henry Street Settlement's Harry De Jur Playhouse in 1993, this production featured puppets, masks and shadows designed by Stephen Kaplin and original music by Yukio Tsuji.

Premiere: 1995

Selected Venues: Harry De Jur Playhouse, NYC; Taipei Theater, NYC.

Birth of Monkey King

Birth of the Monkey King     孫悟空出世

Two overhead projectors and a live storyteller vividly bring to life one of the great characters of Chinese literature and stage. Based on the 17th-century novel, Journey to the West, it tells the story of Sun Wu Kung, a.k.a. Handsome Monkey King, and follows his exploits as a  powerful nature spirit, a shape-shifting martial artist and a cosmic prankster. As he gathers enormous superpower and shakes the foundations of Heaven he becomes such a menace that the Buddha finally must trick him into submission.  The production features dozens of figures based on antique Chinese shadow puppets, projected into brilliant, cinematic imagery.

Premiere: 2004

Selected Venues: Santa Fe Opera, NM; International Children's Theater Festival, WA; Children's Museum of Richmond, VA.

Hao, Tiger

Hao Bang Ah, Tiger  好棒啊,老虎!

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.      

Premiere: 2010

Selected Venues: NYPL; Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC; Asian American Cultural Festival of Long Island, NY; Asia Society/ Bronx Zoo, NYC.

Hao Bangha Rabbit- Tiger and Rich Bunny

Hao Bang Ah, Rabbties!  好棒啊,小兔子!

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.      

Premiere: 2011

Selected Venues: Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre, NY; Hammond Museum, NY; Long Island Children's Museum, NY.

Hao, Dragon

Hao Bang Ah, dragon!   好棒啊,龍!

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.      

Premiere: 2012

Selected Venues: Pinocchio's Marionette Theatre, FL; Miami Children's Museum, FL; Puppetry Arts Center, FL.

Hao, Snake

Hao Bang Ah, snake!   好棒啊,蛇!

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.      

Premiere: 2013

Selected Venues: Academy of the City Charter School, NYC; Asian American Cultural Circle of Unity- Farmingdale State College, NY; Asian American Cultural Festival, Long Island.

Hao Horse copy

Hao Bang A, Horse   好棒啊,馬!


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.

Premiere: 2014

Selected Venues: Wildlife Conservation Society, NYC; Puppet Show Place, MA

Hao Bang Ah Sheep

Hao Bang Ah, Sheep!   好棒啊,羊咩咩!

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.      

Premiere: 2015

Selected Venues: Hammond Museum, NY; Ballad Institute, UCONN, CT; Passport to Taiwan Festival, NYC; IgniVox LES Festival, NYC; Beat Festival, NYC; UNIMA-USA Featro SEA, NYC.

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