Eleven-year-old JJ has dreams of becoming a rich and famous treasure hunter. One day, she strikes it big when she buys a mysterious box at a garage sale. Inside, she finds a raven mask and an old Chinese opera poster.
Doing so, she releases the spirits of the Raven and the Monkey King, who were trapped in the box for 90 years. Together, they share their life stories and teach JJ to understand a life lesson that the value of money pales in comparison to the values of family and history.
That’s the synopsis for Raven Meets the Monkey King, the new play by Axis Theatre that will be performed at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre this Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m.
“It’s lively entertainment, very visual, and an adventure story,” said Wayne Sprecht, the art director for Axis Theatre, and director of this play.
Axis Theatre has been creating and performing original productions for almost 40 years. The idea for their newest play came from the audience evaluation forms they receive when they perform at schools. The idea was to write a play about cultural diversity.
“The theme of First Nations and Asian settlements, particularly on the west coast of B.C., did come to us,” said Sprecht.
The script was written by Louise Moon, who’s grandfather was Chinese. The looked at all the various cultures that helped build B.C. as it was first being settled.
“From that it narrowed down to First Nations culture and Chinese culture as represented by the iconic tricksters of these cultures – one being the raven, the other being the monkey king,” said Sprecht.
He said he wanted people from those cultures to tell their stories, as opposed to appropriating them.
Nyla Carpentier, a First Nations actress plays the role of the raven. Significantly, she received permission from First Nations to tell the legends in the play. “She created an original dance for the play, she also sang an original song, and she had the permission to tell one of the classic stories, which is how the raven stole the songs,” said Sprecht.
Aaron Lau plays the role of the monkey king. “He’s a very acrobatic actor that is skilled with his movement training that I was happy to get on the stage,” said Sprecht.
Ella Simon plays JJ. “She’s one of those timeless actors who will always look like a child,” said Sprecht. “When you’re casting adults to play kids you have to be pretty careful. She will always look 11.”
Raven Meets the Monkey King premiered in January and was toured around during the winter, and again this fall.
It is at the Revelstoke Perfoming Arts Centre on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children, and are available at Art First, the Chamber of Commerce or through the Revelstoke Arts Council website.