Expert Chinese artists weave together five traditional and not-so-traditional stories of ancient China in The Old Man and the Monkeys & Other Chinese Tales by Dragon Arts Studio. For two weeks only, September 24-October 5, Center for Puppetry Arts will present fables of compassion, consideration and cunning, along with the greatest ping pong match of all time. As part of their final tour before retiring, this performance is Atlanta’s last chance to experience the distinguished puppetry skills of the renowned Dragon Arts Studio artists Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu.
The Old Man and the Monkeys & Other Chinese Tales includes five distinct vignettes:
- When an old man, tired from carrying his load, stops under a tree to rest, he unwittingly sets himself up to be the center of some naughty monkeys’ amusement. The monkeys enthusiastically play with and eventually carry off the old man’s goods, leaving him quite befuddled when he awakes. Tales of clever and playful monkeys are popular throughout China and The Old Man and the Monkeys perfectly captures this element of Chinese storytelling.
- In The Crane and the Tortoise, a proud and beautiful crane flies to a pond and lands near the shore, interrupting a turtle’s peaceful rest. This little turtle is exceptionally witty and uses his cunning to outsmart the self-important crane, who keeps pestering him.
- A farmer’s daughter and her donkey share a special connection in The Donkey’s Best Friend. The two only want to play, but the farmer insists on burdening the donkey with a heavy load, much to his daughter’s disapproval. Eventually the donkey collapses and the daughter helps her father understand that a heavy load needs to be shared in order to be bearable.
- The Dancer emerges from the mist and with graceful movements and enchanting music evokes the exquisite art of ancient fairy tales.
- In The Super Duper Ping Pong Match, the puppeteers use ingeniously simple effects to perform the best and most hilarious ping pong match ever seen. Two competitors duke it out as the ping pong continually grows in size, adding a comical twist to this vignette that will have the audience bursting with laughter.
Dragon Art Studio is comprised of two renowned artists, Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu. Their impressive careers include several decades of international acclaim, as well as the 2004 National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts (the highest U.S. honor for folk and traditional artists). In their youth, Wang and Xu studied at the Beijing Opera School and Beijing Puppetry Art School, respectively. Before coming to America, the husband and wife duo spent more than 30 years as leading puppeteers with the famous China Puppet Art Troupe in Beijing, China’s first national puppetry company. In 1996, Wang and Xu came to the U.S. and founded their own puppet theater, Dragon Art Studio in Portland, Ore. In their first year, Dragon Art Studio was invited to perform at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and over the past 15 years they have shared the beauty and excitement of Chinese puppetry with audiences throughout the U.S.
When asked why puppetry is such an important part of their lives, Wang and Xu replied (as translated by their daughter Brenda), “the traditional art doesn’t belong to only one country. It is the treasure of the whole world. [We] want not only Chinese people to know this traditional art but people all around the world, to let more people know about the Chinese culture, the history and the puppet art.”
Recommended for ages 4 and up, The Old Man and the Monkeys & Other Chinese Tales will run from September 24 – October 5 in the Mainstage Theater. Show times are as follows:
- Wed – Fri: 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.
- Sat: 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.
- Sun: 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.
Tickets include museum admission as well as the Create-A-Puppet Workshop, where children can make their own Mischievous Monkey hand puppet. TICKETS ARE $9.25 (MEMBERS) / $16.50 (NONMEMBERS) AND CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE AT WWW.PUPPET.ORG OR BY CALLING THE TICKET SALES OFFICE AT 404-873-3391.