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Review of The White Snake at The Guthrie

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Quote of the Day:  from the Chinese fable, The White Snake, on stage now at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
“Seeing is believing,” (says Green Snake) There’s another saying, says White Snake, “Believing is Seeing.”

Many years ago, in the land of China, White Snake and her friend Green Snake went on the transformation journey to find out what it was like to live like a human. They discovered love and shared their medicine. Green Snake, aka Greenie, stayed close by the side of her friend White Snake, aka Bai Suzhen, who married a mortal man. Just as life was becoming beautiful, with a baby on the way, Fa Hai, the evil religious man, tried to break them apart by exposing the truth and turning Bai Suzhen back into The White Snake. This nearly kills her husband Xu Xian, but with the help of forest creatures and special medicine, all is not lost. Still, the path is never straight, and none of us are always what we at first appear to be. The storytelling, costuming, and staging of The White Snake are so beautiful, like unfolding layers of fine, silk fabric, or a Chinese fan.

Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake) and Amy Kim Waschke (White Snake) in THE WHITE SNAKE written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, based on the classic Chinese fable. Set design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Mara Blumenfeld, lighting design by T.J. Gerckens, original music and sound design by Andre J. Pluess, and projections by Shawn Sagady. September 9 - October 19, 2014 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Liz Lauren, 2014.

Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake) and Amy Kim Waschke (White Snake) in THE WHITE SNAKE written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, based on the classic Chinese fable. Set design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Mara Blumenfeld, lighting design by T.J. Gerckens, original music and sound design by Andre J. Pluess, and projections by Shawn Sagady. September 9 – October 19, 2014 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Liz Lauren, 2014.

I feel like I only saw the first layer of this wonderful story, and maybe got a few glimpses of what lies underneath. I wish I could see it again, like a child who loves to hear the same book every night. This one is a pop-up book with surprises, hidden pictures, and sensory details. This story was surely passed down through oral tradition, with variations, and different emphasis and meaning with each telling. If I were a child listening to it, I would say, “Tell it again, Grandma. I want to hear the part about the snakes. I like Greenie and her sassy spirit, and the way you describe the crossing of the river and the fight scene. And the baby, I always get worried about what will happen with that baby.” 

A young girl was sitting behind us and she seemed very engaged in the story. I heard her whisper, “I like Greenie.” I did, too! In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate bringing children who are upper elementary and older to this performance. It is a beautiful story and a visual feast.

The White Snake is playing at The Guthrie Theater, September 9 – October 19, 2014. Go to their website for tickets and showtimes and to see more production photos and a video clip.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What stories did you like hearing again and again as a child, or even now? Which saying from the Quote of the Day do you think is more accurate?

  1. I’ve seen the movie – earlier this year in fact – and I’m sure the play is much, much better!

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