Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the artists behind multi-platinum animated band Gorillaz have been approached to compose and design the musical, “Monkey: Journey to the West.”
Based on a classic from Chinese literature, dating back to 1592, it concerns
itself with the Monkey King, a beloved character in the canon.
Albarn said he and Hewlett are honoured to be involved, calling it “…the
original adventure story, but its thousands of years old; that’s what really
drew us to it.”
He added “We went to China and travelled to get a picture of what China is like now and combine that with an ancient, classic China.”
Conceived and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, a renowned theatre, opera and film director, with the desire of retelling the story of Monkey, who “…manages to smite demons and defeat fiends with his superior kung fu skills…to gain the ultimate prize for himself, the attainment of Buddhahood”.
The production performed in Mandarin promises circus acrobats, Shaolin
martial arts and Chinese singers performing Damon Albarn’s debut operatic score, utilising Western and traditional Chinese instruments within an orchestra of thirty musicians from around the world.
Artist Hewlett was tasked with creating a visual universe, including
cacophony of characters from Spider Maidens to Skeleton Demons, which is
currently being constructed in Beijing, Paris, Berlin and London.
“Monkey: Journey to the West” will launch the inaugural Manchester
International Festival at the Palace Theatre on June 28.