The Nebraska Repertory Theatre presents “The Way to the Way” Feb. 23. to March 6.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23-26 and March 2-5 and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 27 and March 6 in Howell Theatre, located on the first floor of the Temple Building. Ticket information is available online.
“’The Way to the Way’ is a large-scale puppet show that explores ancient Taoist philosophy,” said Nebraska Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Andy Park, who wrote and directs the show.
The performance is co-sponsored by Lincoln’s Asian Community and Cultural Center. A local Asian performing group will perform pre-act before each performance, and the finale features a local Chinese Lion Dance group, Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association.
Some of the groups to be featured in the pre-act performances include Desi Beats, a dance group formed by Indian students of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Wesleyan University; Kokyo Taiko, a community-based wadaiko (Japanese style drumming) group; and Lincoln Taijiquan Association, a community-based organization dedication to the sharing of Taijiquan, commonly known as Tai Chi, which is led by UNL Professor Gary Yuen.
“I’m most excited about working with the Asian Community and Cultural Center and featuring the incredible local talent on The Rep stage,” Park said.
Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film alumna Jill Hibbard, an alumna (Master of Fine Arts, 2020), created the large-scale puppets for the production.
“They are truly magical,” Park said. “The cast is doing an amazing job of manipulating the puppets and telling a story that is lighthearted, heart-warming and inspirational.”
Park was inspired to write the show by current events.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve grown increasingly dismayed at how China has been disparaged by politicians and the media,” Park said. “The hateful, anti-China rhetoric that surfaced as the world grappled with the pandemic felt especially out of balance based on the China I experienced first-hand. As I reflected on our politically charged and divisive times, I realized that I had an opportunity, as an artist, to explore the ways that we’re connected to our world and to each other. The idea for ‘The Way to the Way’ was born.”
Park turned to two Chinese philosophers, Lao-Tzu and his work “Tao Te Ching” (The Book of the Way) and Chaung-Tzu, the author of “The Chaung-Tzu.”
“This play relies heavily on Lao-Tzu’s poetic vision and the humorous short stories and fables Chaung-Tzu used to illustrate his unique perspective on ‘The Way,’” Park said. “My hope is that this show approaches Chaung-Tzu’s light touch and the three treasures that Lao-Tzu taught.”
Park said the production fits Nebraska Rep’s commitment to becoming the theatre of all Nebraska.
“We are excited to showcase members from Lincoln’s dynamic Asian community on The Rep stage,” he said. “Shows like this move Nebraska Rep closer to our goal.”
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln encourages that masks be worn in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. Details, exclusions and updates can be found on the UNL website at https://covid19.unl.edu.