Center for the Arts to present "Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera" on Oct. 8

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: September 9, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for the Arts at the University at Buffalo will present "Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera" at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8 in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Imagine a small army of performers somersaulting across the stage, twirling spears and tossing swords, executing superb martial art moves -- all the while singing melodiously, costumed in magnificent silk brocades and multi-colored makeup. That is the theatrical wonder that audiences will find when they see "The Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera." The tour was organized by Cornell East Asia Program, and funded in part by the Freeman Foundation. The Center for the Arts is one of only 10 U.S. venues presenting the troupe.

Beijing Opera blends acting, dancing and live music with acrobatics and kung-fu-style stage combat to create a breathtaking evening of drama. Adorned in sparkling garments of silk brocade and with painted facial masks, the dynamic 17-member troupe of actors and musicians includes masters of the National Academy in China. This retelling of the Monkey King story, one of the Beijing Opera's most revered and accessible works, is presented in celebration of the Year of the Monkey. Some of the dialogue will be spoken in English.

The International Monkey King Troupe is led by Ghaffar Pourazar, a British performer who became the first Westerner to complete the rigorous course of training at the National Academy for Traditional Chinese Opera. He has since become the leading exponent of this marvelous theatrical art-form in the West. The troupe's mission is to make Beijing Opera accessible to a worldwide audience.

As the most successful foreign performer of this Chinese art-form, Ghaffar Pourazar has become quite famous in China and his story has been told in news features on the BBC, CNN, CCTV, as well as in the Asian Wall Street Journal and many other publications. As artistic director of the Zheng Yi Ci Theatre in Beijing, the oldest traditional opera theater in Beijing, he introduced Beijing Opera to many foreign tourists and attracted a large Chinese audience.

Beijing Opera has existed for more than 200 years. It is widely regarded as the highest expression of Chinese culture and it has deeply influenced the hearts of the Chinese people. It is said that there are as many kinds of Chinese opera as there are dialects, and Beijing Opera absorbed music and arias from many other opera forms and musical arts in China. It finally emerged as the national standard. At its peak of popularity it was favored by people from all levels of society, from high-ranking government officials to common laborers. The repertoire contains thousands of pieces, covering virtually the entire history and literature of China.

Tickets for "Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera" are $22 for general admission and $16 for UB students with ID at the Center for the Arts Box Office. Tickets are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the CFA Box Office and at all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 1-416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For more information call 645-ARTS. The Center for the Arts is a Ticketfast location.