New Theatre Production, Based on Life of Pearl S. Buck, to Premiere at Lincoln Center
At a press conference held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel this morning, representatives from Legend River Entertainment (Beijing) announced that they will produce a theatrical show, entitled "Pearl", based on the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck. This show is also being co-produced by an American company, Studiomusica USA. This story, which is familiar to both the Chinese and Western audiences, will be brought to life through the art of dance, highlighting the blending of two cultures and "East meets West" in abstract form. The show will run from August 27-30, 2015 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The show will be told in five symbolic stages - Spring, River, Flower, Moon, and Night - based on a famous poem written by Zhang Ruoxu about the passing human existence. Daniel Ezralow (Choreographer: Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony, Across the Universe) will choreograph and direct. The show will be produced by Angela Xiaolei Tang, CEO of Legend River Entertainment with set and costume design by Michael Cotten (Michael Jackson's "This Is It", Tours for Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Tony Award), and music composed by Jun Miyake ("Pina"). Mirada ("Dark Horse" music video for Katy Perry, IBM Think Exhibit, promo video for Disney's New Fantasyland) will contribute the video design.
During the press conference, Ezralow spoke about the inspiration behind the pieces, and the message that he hopes the show will leave with audiences. "Pearl is about communication and the transformation of fear into curiosity. The creative collaborators that I have chosen have a worldly experience and minds that can be open to the marvelous possibilities of this show. Even the dancers we will choose, while being technically beautiful, must have the ability to be really expansive in their minds and grasp the feeling of being a foreigner."
"We want to produce a show which can help the international audience discover more about China," said Executive Producer Tang. "Pearl is the perfect subject when trying to demonstrate cross cultural understanding and communication."
Also present at the event were Mr. Wenbiao Tang, Vice President of the Zhenjiang Media and Culture Industrial Group, and Mrs. Shu Tong, Director of Zhenjiang Arts Theater, signifying the collaborative effort of the Chinese and Western cultures in creating this culturally significant production, in addition to Pamela Carroll, a spokesperson for Pearl S. Buck International.
Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia at the home of her mother's family. Pearl's parents had been Presbyterian missionaries in China since 1880 and were home on furlough when she was born. They returned to China five months after Pearl's birth. Pearl's parents preferred to live among the Chinese and not in the missionary compound. Thus, she grew up in close intimacy with the Chinese people, speaking Chinese, playing with Chinese children, visiting their homes, listening to their ideas and absorbing their culture. These experiences helped to develop the mind and the imagination of an alert, intelligent child, who later used this material in her novels. On March 4, 1920, Pearl Buck gave birth to her only biological child, Carol. She was concerned that Carol was not developing normally, but received little or no support. At that time, nothing was known about the eventual diagnosis of PKU syndrome (phenylketonuria), which results in progressive mental deterioration if not treated immediately at birth. In 1929, Pearl enrolled Carol at the Vineland Training School in Vineland, New Jersey, where she lived until her death in 1992. In 1950, Pearl Buck wrote The Child Who Never Grew about her personal feelings and experiences with Carol. The book helped many other parents of children with similar mental disabilities. In 1925, the Buck family came to the United States to Cornell University, where Pearl Buck received her MA in English Literature. Before returning to China, the couple adopted an American baby girl and named her Janice. Concerned about paying for Carol's schooling, Pearl Buck wrote her first novel, East Wind, West Wind. It was rejected by many publishers, but Richard Walsh of the John Day Publishing Company published the book in 1930. Her next book, The Good Earth, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and remained on the bestseller list for 21 months. It was also developed into an Oscar Award-winning film in 1937. Pearl Buck was the first American woman to receive both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize.
Pearl Buck's name began resurfacing in China over the past couple of decades, supported by the creation of memorials and museums found in Zhenjiang, Nanjing, Lushan, and Anhui. Her name and story are now a roadmap to cross cultural understanding, having been one of America's first real looks into Chinese culture and vice versa for the Chinese. Zhenjiang Media Group and Legend River recognized the timing of a story and project such as this within the world's current environment of connecting quickly and growing smaller by the day, and more specifically with US and China at center stage. The story is universal, encouraging its readers to embrace the unknown as Pearl did. Curious about everything, she used this exploratory energy enough to pursue different experiences and earn a deeper knowledge. Beyond Pearl's message for a better humanity, Legend River Entertainment also sees the impact that her life and literature are now having in China, particularly for women, where they too are looking for a voice and dreaming of a better world. A strong woman in her own right, Pearl overcame a difficult childhood on her path to self-discovery. "Pearl" will deliver a message of hope, strength, and a new perspective on unfamiliar cultures to audiences when it comes to life on stage in the fall of 2015.
The poem, "Spring, River, Flower, Moon, Night", written by Zhang Ruoxu (c.660 - c.720) is said to be about human existence. It uses scenic representation to express feelings about the passing of human existence. The moon rises with the tide, the river sparkles in the moonlight. He recognizes the delicate nature of humans, who have a limitation in comparison with the renewal of nature. For purposes of this show, each of the words takes on a chapter of Pearl's life but not by way of a timeline. Each word has a very important seasonal meaning and it helps project Pearl's life in sections of feelings and emotion.