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THEA324 presents: Journey to the West

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Monkey confronts the Robbers of the Six Senses


25 September 2008

THEA324 presents: Journey to the West

“102,600 years ago, the Heaven and Earth made love and everything was born”
– Journey to the West

Hot on the heels of the 2008 Olympics, this production invokes the “total theatre” tradition of Chinese Opera, integrating stylised acting and martial arts with comic antics and terrifying demons. It also draws inspiration from Thai and Javanese shadow puppetry, blending live actors and music with puppets.

The script was adapted from Xi You Ji, one of the four great novels in Chinese literature, by American playwright and director Mary Zimmerman. It tells the tale of the Monkey King and his adventures as he accompanies the scripture pilgrim Tripitaka Tang to the Western Heaven. The religious significance of their quest involves the teachings of Taoism and the sutras of Buddhism.

2008 is only the second year that THEA324, a programme called Asian Performance Practices, has been run at Victoria University. This course combines vigorous physical training with the study of Asian Theatre practices and theory.

Course Co-ordinator and director of Journey to the West, Megan Evans, who has studied Chinese Opera performance at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing, is assisted by martial arts specialist Matarahi Skipper. Evans was “drawn to Zimmerman’s adaptation of the expansive epic because it reclaims some of the philosophical depth of the original novel in addition to offering up some of Monkey’s most audacious exploits”.

Journey to the West has been a major influence on popular culture: from stage to television, from anime to video games. Its most recent incarnations have included a stage show co-produced by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (of Gorillaz fame) and the movie The Forbidden Kingdom featuring Jet Li and Jackie Chan.

With a heart bigger than King Kong’s, the Victoria University production of Journey to the West promises to be a stage spectacle that is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

What: THEA324 Presents: Journey to the West
When: 7pm Wednesday 1 to Saturday 4 October 2008
Where: Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Tce, Kelburn (Gate 10 of Victoria University)
To book: email theatre[at] or phone 463 5359

See our trailer at


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