From BBly – Announcing Journey Part II

Welcome to Journey from the East, 2015 Edition!!

Last spring, Touchstone presented Journey: Dream of the Red Pavilion, written and directed by Ensemble Associate Mary Wright, and based on the stories of Chinese tourists who had begun turning up in the small park next to the theatre. Mary tells what she and her group of intrepid story-gatherers found out:

  1. Some of them come to gamble and then to relax; some come to trade in their “free-gamble” cards and earn money; and some come simply to get out of the city and enjoy a day in a place that is “beautiful” and where “all the people are friendly.”
  2. Many of the elderly Chinese moved to America after retiring in order to move in with their grown children, as is traditional in China.
  3. Some of the men are unemployed and riding the buses is the only way they can make money. As one of the gentlemen told us, “this is no way to live.”

This spring, Touchstone will present an original play, written by Bill George and Christopher Shorr. It will be performed the third and fourth weekends of April at the Chinese Harmony Pavilion on the Greenway down behind the theatre. Journey from the East tells the story of the often difficult business of communicating between cultures, written as a ceremonial meeting between the US President and a high-ranking Chinese Liaison, to mark the signing of an important agreement between the two nations. At least that’s the way it starts…

I’m Bill Bly, the dramaturg for the production — this means I get to act as executive secretary to the two playwrights, to write this blog keeping you up to date on developments, and to help Touchstone document this important community project so that others may study and possibly even reproduce it in their own communities.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about the research I’ve been having so much fun doing into Chinese literary culture — in particular the classic 16th-century novel Journey to the West, which has had, let’s say, some influence on our new play. This 100-chapter, 1000-page epic quest is to Chinese culture what Homer plus the Bible and Shakespeare are to the West, and the work has been adapted to the stage, the screen, the opera, and even computer games!

More soon!


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