The White Snake by Mary Zimmerman
Silicon Valley Shakespeare 2019
TBA Recommended Production
My first exposure to the art of oral storytelling was when I was a small child and my Mom would make up the most whimsical stories before bedtime. She pulled them from thin air, rather than off someone else’s page, with hints of tales from the past mixed with her own sense of creativity. They were full of adventure, romance, and always had comedic moments as she would change voices with each character… needless to say, I loved every second of them. Looking back, I think this is what first sparked my love of theatre. There is something about the live raw energy of someone sharing a story right before your eyes in the flesh, that has the power to make you feel connected to others. It is a connection that crosses generations, continents, perspectives… storytelling, at its core, is indeed so very human. The art of storytelling, where a narrator’s words coupled with simple, but innovative visuals can spark one’s imagination with a sense of childlike wonder and is the style of theatre that takes center stage in this version of The White Snake.
As a Shakespeare company, we are constantly showing how stories written over 400 years ago are still extremely relevant today, so it brings me great joy to be able to present a tale that has more than triple that history and ever so relevant themes to the Sanborn stage. The White Snakeis a fable that has been passed down through time in the tradition of oral storytelling, as well as the written word, since 618CE during the Tang Dynasty, known as one of the Golden Ages of China. The tale has gone through many iterations, with characters and plot lines changing throughout its long history. In one version, our villain Fa Hai is actually the hero rescuing Xu Xian from the clutches of the demon spirit of White Snake! So, why is the love story the one that we tell today? I believe as stories pass through time, the versions which are most relevant to us are the ones that hold steadfast. In this version of the fable, it is the message of acceptance and the connection between Xu Xian and Lady Bai throughout time and space that stirs our hearts, as opposed to Fa Hai’s morality mission.
I hope that The White Snake will transport you to a place where your imagination can soar. Parasols can turn into a snake, ribbons into rain, and dancers can embody a storm if we let our curiosity take the leap of faith and journey to a land of childlike wonder. More importantly, I hope it reminds you that no matter what doubts may plague you, that love is out there for you, no matter what form that takes. Be it companionship, a connection to nature, a passion that drives you, or making a difference in someone else’s life… love takes on many forms and connects us across time, continents, and cultures. In the end, love is everywhere. You are not alone.
With a sense of wonder,
The White Snake, Director
Silicon Valley Shakespeare, Artistic Director