Cathay: Three Tales of China is an original, cross-cultural puppet theatre work about China’s ancient past, its tumultuous recent history, and its 21st century reemergence as a global economic force. The play was composed of three separate stories that take place in Xi’an with characters and storylines crossing centuries, respectively in the Tang Dynasty, during World War II and at the beginning of the 21st century.
Cathay was directed by Ping Chong + Company from the U.S. collaboratively with the Shaanxi Folk Art Theater from China. CTW assisted Ping Chong in designing and producing many puppets and shadow figures. As the chief puppet designer, Stephen Kaplin combined traditional and contemporary puppetry both from China and the U.S. to create 150 rod puppets, shadow puppets and a set of two giant tomb guardians. As a result, Cathay won the Hewes Design Awards, the highest designing honor from American Theater Critics Association to equally consider Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway works.
Cathay debuted in 2005 and has been performed at venues including the Seattle Opera House (WA), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and Broadway’s New Victory Theatre (NYC). In 2012, the play was selected as the opening show of the 21st UNIMA (Union International de la Marrionette) Puppetry Festival in Chengdu.