Performers “Journey to the West” in Fall Play

It has all the markings of a Marvel superhero movie. The Mainstage fall production of the classic Chinese tale "Journey to the West" promises characters who turn into tigers, constellations that come to earth and battle and a character who has 20 hearts fly out of his chest. 

The play is adapted from a novel by Wu Cheng’en and director and upper school theater teacher Meg O'Connor believes the story has been a good challenge for the students. Working with a cast of 51 performers and a crew of 14, O’Connor is excited to bring this ambitious play to the stage.

“It’s about a group of misfits who are sent on a quest from China to India to bring back scrolls of wisdom to save their people,” she explained. “Along the way, they battle actual demons and their own inner demons, and eventually grow into heroes.”

Jessie Xie ’24 stars as the monk, Sanzang, and also leads the show’s Special Force for Chinese Language and Culture, a group of students working to ensure cultural understanding throughout the production.

“One of the most interesting things about this story is that it's so widely known in half of the world and almost unknown in the other half,” Xie said. “We are mainly helping with pronunciations of words and brainstorming costumes that resemble more of the original culture that the play originates from, so that we are properly telling the story and representing the cultures that we cherish.”

Annette Choi ’25, who plays Guanyin, a bodhisattva who helps beings on Earth redeem themselves, grew up hearing this story from her parents and even performed in a condensed version of it when she was 7. She is relishing the whole experience.

“I love this story,” she shared. “And I'm so impressed at how Masters performs plays from different cultures, not just from America or Europe.”

O’Connor is certain everyone will connect to the play’s universal message. “We're all struggling through life and learning how to overcome obstacles, and most of us don't find the path easy or effortless. And yet...we learn from the people on the journey with us, and even against tough odds, we find a way to keep going.” 

“Journey to the West” premieres Thursday, October 27, at 7:00 p.m. at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre, with additional performances on October 28 and October 29, both at 7:00 p.m.

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