Composer: Damon Albarn
Visual concept, costume, design and animation: Jamie Hewlett
Conductor: André de Ridder
The launch event of the first Manchester International Festival is a circus opera for the 21st century, based on an ancient Chinese legend but reworked as a dazzling spectacle involving more than 40 Chinese circus acrobats, vocalists and performing martial artists.
For centuries, the epic tale of the Monkey King’s journey of enlightenment has been an omnipresent part of Chinese culture, delighting young and old with its heady mix of adventure, mystery and magic. Now, East meets West in 'Monkey: Journey to the West’, a new production that reinvents the legend with a thrilling combination of music and action.
The show has been adapted and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, whose credits range from Chinese opera and theatre to the Hollywood movie 'Dark Matter’, starring Meryl Streep. The music has been composed by Damon Albarn and the design and animation is by Jamie Hewlett, the artists behind award-winning virtual band Gorillaz.
Discover the legend of Monkey King
In partnership with the Chinese Arts Centre, the Festival is running an education programme for primary schools, secondary schools and community groups. Workshops will offer an introduction to the Chinese legend of Monkey King and to the show itself, and will also feature other fun activities to help participants learn about Chinese culture.
The Festival is also running a songwriting project based on the music in 'Monkey: Journey to the West’. Nine diverse community groups will have the opportunity to work with the show’s Music Supervisor David Coulter and musicians from the band, writing and recording their own song based on the legend of the Monkey King..
The education programme is supported by The Granada Foundation.
Designed and created by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris in co-production with Manchester International Festival and the State Opera House, Berlin (Staatsoper Unter den Linden)