Theatre Review: Monkey: Journey to the West

The musical “Monkey: Journey to the West” is awesome. I loved the music, with hints and references to other works. The stage show is incredible, involving many different genres: acrobatics, wires, staged martial arts, and aerial dance. The costumes are amazing. It was engaging from start to finish.

It’s a curious mix of Chinese and Western. The musical is directed by a Chinese producer and features a Chinese cast. The music is composed by a Brit, using both Chinese and Western instruments. While the monkey journeys to the West, what he finds there is Buddha – a quintessentially Eastern icon to Westerners. In fact, to a Chinese government that reveres its past but is uncomfortable with religion, the story of the Journey to the West might be problematic. Despite not having been staged in China yet (so far England, Paris, and New York), the songs are sung in Mandarin.

What intrigues me most about “Monkey” is its potential as a cultural bellwether. It is an optimistic model for future integration and cooperation of China and the West. We have a work of art, produced by a mixed team, which does not stereotype China, but respects it by adapting one of its most famous classical stories and presenting it in its native tongue in a modern, Western form to Western audiences. I’m curious what the future will bring.

Chicago Restore the 4th Protest

Today I attended a Restore the Fourth protest in Chicago. It was well attended, with about 250 mostly first-time protesters, and was put together by a small group of first-time organizers. This is about as grassroots as it gets.

The crowd had great energy and many creative signs. The protest demanded that the Fourth Amendment be restored. There was a lot of anger at the NSA, with many calling for it to be abolished entirely. Some chants included:

  • The NSA / has TMI!
  • The NSA / is not OK!
  • Big Bro / has got to go!
  • Free, free Snowden! Free Edward Snowden!
  • Restore the Fourth

As we approached Millenium Park, we came across hundreds of people enjoying the sun in the park. Onlookers were by and large very sympathetic. I was jazzed to see a couple hundred people marching through a crowded area chanting against the NSA. I can only imagine how NSA employees feel right now.

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