How Wang-Fo Was Saved

This adaptation of an ancient Chinese legend, based on a story by Marguerite Yourcenar, celebrates the triumph of art over life, or the supremacy of art over everything. When the emperor forces the old painter Wang-Fo to finish painting one last canvas before his execution, Wang-Fo first paints a lake, then draws a rowboat, and as the waters rise and fill the throne room, he climbs into the boat and rows off.

The performers in this piece are bamboo fronds, silk panels, stiffened robes and glowing lanterns. They tell of the concubines melancholy, the wife’s loneliness, the disciple’s frustration with his lack of talent, and of Wang-Fo’s passion for art.


Music composed and performed: Jane Wang
Light Design: Trevor Brown
Narration: Andrew Pang
Video: Stefanie Fischer
Manipulation: Mia Wiesenthal  
Concept, text, construction: Hanne Tierney

First performed at FiveMyles, Brooklyn, NY, 2001