Beijing Opera at the University of Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Beijing Opera at the University of Hawaii

(HawaiiNewsNow) - Beijing Opera is coming to the University of Hawaii. "The White Snake" is a lavish production filled with music, drama and martial arts battles. Frederick Lau, the show's musical director, joins us this morning. He's an internationally-known flautist, and he will perform a scene from the opera accompanied by graduate student Juhua Wei.

The White Snake

  • UH-Manoa
  • February 5-14
  • Kennedy Theatre
  • Tickets: $22, discounts available

English-Language World Premiere of Jingju (Beijing "Opera") Play

The University of Hawai'i at Mânoa's Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to once again present the Chinese Jingju (Beijing "opera") art form with its production of "The White Snake," one of China's most famous and beloved plays. This lavish production of the mythological tale features comedy, high drama, thrilling song and music, and vibrant battles. "The White Snake" will be performed Feb. 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 7 and 14 at 2 p.m.

Translated by UH professor and production director Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczak and Punahou School instructor Hui-Mei Chang, "The White Snake" is making its English-language world premiere with this production. Free pre-show chats are planned for Sat., Feb. 6 and 13 at 7 p.m. In conjunction with the performances of "The White Snake", an exhibition entitled Jingju Arts and the Famous Mei Lanfang will be held at the Commons Gallery, UH Mânoa Art Building, sponsored by the Jiangsu Province Department of Culture. This exhibition on the development of Jingju will also highlight the life of Jingu's most renowned performer and will be open to the public Feb. 8 - 12.

"The White Snake" relates the famous legend of a snake spirit who descends to earth as a beautiful woman, falls in love with a handsome man, and then must fight to restore his life and save their marriage in the face of supernatural attacks from a powerful monk. "Jingju (literally "drama of the capital") has four performance skills-song, speech, dance-acting and combat," said Wichmann-Walczak. "Many Jingju plays feature only two or three of these skills, but our last Jingju, Women Generals of the Yang Family (2006), included all four skills, and we were very happy with the results. The Jingju teachers and I wanted to build on that success for this 6-month training program and its culminating production. "The White Snake" has delightful dance sequences, exciting combat sequences, and some of the most famous songs in the entire Jingju repertory," she added.

The UHM Department of Theatre and Dance is home to the largest university-based Asian theatre program in the world and is renowned for its training programs. The resident teachers for "The White Snake" are three nationally acclaimed artists from the Jiangsu Province. The Jiangsu Province Department of Culture, a long-term supporter of Jingju at UHM, is providing major funding for this training program and production.

Tickets for "The White Snake" are now available online at and by phone at 944-2697. Tickets will also go on sale at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office beginning Feb. 1 and may be purchased Monday through Friday from 10:30a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with extended hours on the days of performances. Prices are $22 regular; $20 seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $15 students; and $5 UHM students with a validated Spring 2010 UHM photo ID. UHM Students Buy-One-Get-One Free Nights are Wed., Feb. 10 and 11. Students, with validated UHM student ID's can get two tickets for $5 beginning at 5 p.m. on the day of the performance. Ticket prices include all service fees. For more information or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre Box Office at 956-7655 (voice/text).

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