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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EVENT: Crossroads (Fringe 2011)

JingJu Canada presents ‘Crossroads’ at the 2011 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
‘Crossroads’ is an original new translation of a traditional Beijing Opera (JingJu) play full of martial arts, zany misdirection and crossed paths running 60 minutes, to be performed at the MAI (Venue #9) from the 10th to the 19th of June as a part of the 2011 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival.
At this year’s Fringe, audiences will be treated to a rare look at Chinese History and legend through the Oriental theatre style known as Beijing Opera – or JingJu. “Crossroads” is a full length translation/adaptation performed at the MAI from the 10th to the 19th of June as a part of the 2011 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. This is the first full length production from JingJu Canada, Canada’s first professional Beijing Opera company. Zany, spectacular and fun for the whole family. 
Through the translation process, Beijing Opera director/performer Shijia Jiang and fight master/actor Jean-Francois Gagnon have highlighted the comedic similarities between Beijing Opera and Western physical theatre , making ‘Crossroads’ a candle to illuminate North-American audiences to Chinese Stage culture. ‘ Crossroads’ combines slapstick comedy, dizzying stage combat and, just like the traditional Beijing Opera piece it’s based on, not a single song. You’ll be standing in awe – if you can pick yourself up from the floor laughing. 
JingJu Canada was founded in 2009, emerging from an exchange between Concordia University’s Theatre Department in Montreal and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA) in Beijing. Together the co-founders Nicholas (Koy) Santillo and Shijia (Michelle) Jiang, both alumni of the two respective institutions, endeavoured to create the first professional Canadian company to teach and perform traditional Beijing Opera, which they refer to by its Chinese name – JingJu. “We don’t call Noh or Kabuki theatre ‘Japanese Opera’”, says Santillo, “Opera means something very specific to Westerners, but JingJu often seems more like Commedia Dell’Arte or Cirque du Soleil than Mozart or Wagner.”
Director/choreographer/performer Shijia Jiang has over 17 years of experience in traditional Chinese Opera, and is an accomplished and decorated performer and director. A graduate of NACTA’s directing program, Ms. Jiang has been collaborating with actor, professor, fight choreographer and Fight Directors Canada Fight Master Jean-Francois Gagnon, who brings a thorough understanding of, and experience in, traditional Western comedy. Joining Shijia on stage are JingJu Canada co-founder Nicholas Santillo, Mr. Gagnon’s assistant Robert Montcalm, and Concordia Theatre Alumni Avi Bendahan, Mireck Metelski and Christopher Hicks.
‘Crossroads’ is a canonical tale from the JingJu stage tradition. It is a comedy of errors which revolves around the great general Jiao Zan, who has been unjustly disgraced and exiled from the Song dynasty. As he is escorted from the kingdom, his luck takes a turn for the worse at an inn. His guard’s murderous intentions are foiled by the innkeeper’s wife, while her husband deals with a mysterious stranger asking suspicious questions in a hilarious and acrobatic ‘Fight in the Dark’. 
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