“The Fisherman Ming Cho Yee and the Princess under the Sea,” a play written by Music and Performing Arts faculty member Will Shephard, will have its first public performances at CSU Monterey Bay’s University Center in November.
The play, partially based on Monterey and Pacific Grove history and partially on a classic folk tale, will be presented Nov. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and at a matinee performance Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. The University Center is located on Sixth Avenue at B Street on the CSUMB campus.
The play begins in a Chinese village by the sea at Point Alones near Pacific Grove in the year 1894.
Persecuted socially, yet tolerated by the Anglo-European majority as a local curiosity, the Chinese fisherman are only permitted to fish for squid at night from their small fishing boats, lit by lanterns.
The lead character, a fisherman named Ming Cho Yee, saves a leatherback sea turtle from being abused by small boys on the beach. Later while Ming Cho Yee fishes for squid at night, the turtle returns, speaks to him, and invites him to Amovar, the palace under the sea, ruled by a benevolent Empress assisted by her beautiful daughter, the Princess.
There, Ming Cho Yee finds love and happiness, marrying the Princess in the magical realm of Amovar. But, after a short time, he feels he must return to Point Alones to see his parents.
The Princess gives him a magic box to help him return to her, and Ming Cho Yee finds himself on the beach at Point Alones again. However, everything has changed. He is in present-day Pacific Grove, during the Feast of Lanterns that celebrates the Chinese squid fishermen of long ago.
Though Ming Cho Yee doesn’t find the racism of the past, he finds tourists and townspeople happy with the Chinese cultural clichés being celebrated as fact, while a few protestors argue against racial stereotyping. Ming Cho Yee now longs for the undersea world and his love, the beautiful Princess. But in the world of the present will discrimination and racial stereotyping continue, or will we gradually come to respect and admire cultures and social customs different from our own?
Admission is free. The play is recommended for adults and children over 12. For further information, call Professor Shephard at (831) 582-4511.
Driving directions and a campus map are available here.
Top: Leigh Chan as Ming Cho Yee and Brenda Soriano as the Princess Shu-Wei
Bottom: Professor Will Shephard