Journey to the West depicts the pilgrimage of Tripitaka (Xuanzang of the Tang dynasty, 602-664) to India to receive Buddhist teaching and obtain the scriptures. According to folklore, he is escorted by Sun Wukong (The Monkey King), Zhu Bajie (The Lustful Pig), and Sha Wujing (a fallen celestial general), who help him overcome difficulties and ward off attacks from various malevolent spirits during his long and arduous journey.
The Reunion opens with Yinshi, mother of Xuanzang, reminiscing the tragic moments 18 years ago when her husband Chen Guangrui was murdered by a pirate and how she was forced to throw her newborn son Jiangliu’er into the river. Then, when Xuanzang appears at her door front, she is surprised by the resemblance between the monk and her deceased husband. After exchanging a few words, she is shocked to realize that the young monk is none other than her long lost son, The scene closes with the elated mother and son tearfully celebrating their reunion, and then deciding to revenge the murder of Xuanzang’s father.
The Reunion is the only remaining piece in the Kunqu Theater that has preserved all the original dramatic components of the Yuan drama: its music arrangement, libretto as well as all the physical stage movements — uniquely different from other plays in the Kunqu repertoires.
Borrow the Fan
In Borrow the Fan, the journey of Xuanzang and his disciples is brought to a standstill by the fiery Flaming Mountain. Sun learns that the magic fan belonging to Tieshan Gongzhu (Princess Iron Fan), wife of his sworn brother Niu Mowang (Bull Demon King), would be able to put out the fires and allow them to continue. He asks the Princess for the fan but is rejected outright because she is still fuming that Sun defeated her son Hong Haier (Red Boy) and left him in the hands of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy). Sun and the Princess engage in several rounds of fighting before Sun gets hold of the fan.