Thursday, January 11, 2007

David Henry Hwang and Bright Sheng's The Silver River

David Henry Hwang, Literary Genius (and Tony Award-winning playwright, M. Butterfly), is in residence at the University of Michigan Institute of the Humanities this week, and I had the opportunity to meet him (and get his autograph!) and follow him around campus like a starstruck teenager. He is preparing for a performance of The Silver River, which retells the ancient Chinese myth about the cowherd and the weaving goddess, and the creation of the Milky Way—a story which is celebrated on Chinese Valentine’s Day (7th day of 7th lunar month). With composer Bright Sheng, MacArthur “Genius” grant winner and UM faculty, The Silver River is touted as a combination of modern theatre, Chinese opera, Western opera, contemporary dance, and classical Western and Chinese music. The University Musical Society writes that The Silver River was the highlight of the 2000 Spoleto Festival, the 2002 Lincoln Center Festival, and the 2002 Theater Works Singapore and is being remounted for the first time in five years in this exclusive production. (Watch for it as it may go on tour!) As always, Hwang is brilliant and funny and gives the old lovestory a modern twist and APA sensibility with themes of interracial romance (human and celestial) and lines like, “If you don’t understand (what that character just said in) Chinese, take a class!”

The University Musical Society presents:
The Silver River, A Music-Theatre Work in One Act
Music by Bright Sheng
Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Ong Keng Sen
Friday, January 12, 8 pm, and Saturday, January 13, 8 pm
Power Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Also Check out Frances Kai-Hwa Wang's "Weak in the Knees--Revisiting the 'Nice Chinese Boy'"