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From Jp – Journey from the East

June 13, 2013

Hello, blog readers and friends of Touchstone!

Journey Silhouette

Blame Google if this translation is wrong.

Touchstone is embarking on its next epic community undertaking! Journey from the East is a two year project that will investigate the impact on Bethlehem, PA of the sudden influx of Chinese transients drawn to the recently opened Sands Casino. The first phase of the project will find the Touchstone artists out in the community gathering stories from local residents and transients alike in order to paint a picture of how this interaction is actually taking place. Dr. Connie Cook and Dr. Dong-Ning Wang of Lehigh University will be aiding the project by enlisting student help as translators to breach the communication divide between the Touchstone artists and our new Mandarin speaking guests. This story gathering process will wrap up sometime in the fall of 2013 and as an initial distilling of these stories, a script will be developed and directed by Touchstone Ensemble Associate Mary Wright in April of 2014.

After this initial distilling, Touchstone will begin work on a second script which will pull from the story gatherings and incorporate elements of the Chinese epic “Journey to the West”. We have enlisted Dr. William Sun, the Vice President of the Shanghai Theatre Academy to lead us in developing a script which will blend eastern and western aesthetics and be performed in Bethlehem’s Southside Greenway Harmony Pavilion. This script will be co-written by Touchstone Founder Bill George and Touchstone Affiliate Christopher Shorr (Christopher is also the Artistic Director of the Moravian College Theatre Company) and directed by Dr. Sun.

In true Touchstone fashion, this production, which will debut in April 2015, will have large scale involvement from the community, augmenting our cast and exploring the issues right along side us.

Wow, that’s a lot of moving parts!

So where are we at now:

  • We’ve officially begun the story gathering process!
  • Yesterday we launched a blog to help you all be as informed about the project as possible.
  • On Saturday, Christopher leaves for Shanghai for an initial meeting with Dr. Sun. We all are very excited to see how this initial face to face meeting moves the project forward.
  • Lisa and I have booked our tickets for a visit to Shanghai in October to visit William again during an experimental theatre festival which he is hosting.

Lot’s of awesomeness afoot, and all in the name of cross cultural empathy and making our community a better place! Isn’t art awesome?

If you have any interest in being part of the process please contact me: or in the meantime check out the blog here (more content to come, I promise).


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