Love on the Magpie Bridge
A poetic play by Clara Hsu based on a Chinese legend to celebrate the Qixi (Night of Sevens) Festival
About the Play by Clara Hsu, director
At the first rehearsal of Love on the Magpie Bridge the cast was surprised that I was the author of the script. “Why did you write the play?” asked Victor Li, one of the “magpies.” That was a great question worthy of a thoughtful answer.
The legend of the Weaver Goddess and the Cowherd is a Chinese folk tale that is rich in historical and cultural significance. On one hand it is astrology made easy through the art of storytelling. On the other hand relationships between humans, animals, mother nature and the cosmos vividly come together in this simple tale. The many manifestations of living beings and how each fits into this vast universe is emphasized through constant transformation: the Weaver Goddess and her Attendant becoming human, the Cowherd receiving the power to see beyond his ordinary realm, the Water Buffalo returning to his heavenly position as the Cow God, Modern-day and Ancient Village Children morphing into the Magpies, the Village Singer turning into Earth Woman, and the Empress is Mother Nature herself, constantly changing in spite of human intention.
Night of Sevens is a festival that honors women, domestic skills and nature. While it is no longer a popular festival and fewer and fewer people are practicing the tradition of going to the temples and pleading for skills, it has its place in the theater. Through play-acting we are able to preserve these forgotten cultural practices and pass down the knowledge to the next generation.
On the seventh day of every seventh month in the Lunar calendar, Vega and Altair—two stars in the Milky Way draw close to each other. In the Chinese imagination Vega represents the Weaver Goddess who came to Earth and fell in love with Altair, the Cowherd. Their love for each other angered the Empress of Heaven who separated the lovers by creating a river of stars. Legend has it that only once a year may the lovers reunite, thanks to the sacrifice of the Cow God and the compassion and ingenuity of the Magpies.
Our play begins in the present and swiftly goes back to the magical time when humans and animals transform again and again to experience the eternity of love.
I wanted to send my heartfelt congratulations to you and everyone involved in your lovely play, Love On A Magpie Bridge. I wish you continued success in developing not only this work but everything else that is part of the summer theater program at Clarion Performing Arts Center. The community building that is a large part of any arts effort such as this one is invaluable both to the participants and to the community in which they work. Thank you so much. It was a delightful performance! I look forward to seeing more!
Candace Forest / Composer, Writer, Producer
Love on the Magpie Bridge is a delightfully entertaining play to be seen by all! Couldn’t stop smiling from beginning to end!
Karen Hom / San Francisco
Well done, Clara, it’s amazing how you have created and co-ordinating the show. It was inspiring, an half hour packed with drama, music, surprises, sense of humour, and fun. You have given the children the invaluable opportunity of participating in theatre arts and performing in front of a live audience. That is going to stay with them for a long time.
Gloria Ince / Senior Assessment Officer, Education & Care Regulatory Unit, Department of Communities, Western Australia.
My husband, Bob and I enjoyed the production very much. As educators… we know not only the work it takes to put on a production like this , but also the joys and the many rewards from this creative process. The original script…so poetically written was a welcomed opportunity to share this iconic Chinese legend with the audience. We loved the intergenerational cast and musicians. It was a coming together of artists from a variety of disciplines and genres. The children’s faces, so full of confidence and pride from their stage experience was a joy to behold. Thank you!
Laurettte Lau and Bob Giambruno / San Francisco
Love on the Magpie Bridge, the poetic play by Clara Hsu performed at the Clarion Performance Arts Center in San Francisco Chinatown, is a delightful and artistic rendition of an ancient Chinese folklore. TheArtistic talents of the special guest performers and musicians are indisputably of the highest caliber as in Broadway shows. The Guzheng performance by guqin master, David Wong is especially impressive. The children performers are all marvelously in tune to the spirit of the play, both playful and humorous, as well as culturally significant. Magpie Bridge encompasses skillfully choreographed elements of poetry, music, dance, singing and dramatic folklore, making it an enjoyable performance for the family audience as well as a memorable production for the connoisseurs of traditional Chinese performing arts. Bravo and well done!! Looking forward to your next play!!
Winnie Poon / Lafayette
Weaver Girl – Lesley Xu
Cowherd – Yorick Li
Buffy the Water Buffalo / Cow God – Ronan Wong and Elita Ye
Empress – Mimi Chin
Village Singer/Earth Woman – Ellen Yeung
Children Ancient and Modern / Magpies – Nola Jensenko, Victor Li, Tiffany Li and Kelly Zhen
Celebrant – Cynthia Yee
David Wong, guzheng
Ichko Batnasan, piano
Clara Hsu, Writer, Producer and Executive Director
Alex Benedict, Artistic director
Alice Benedict, Artistic Director, magpie Costume Designer & Maker
Frank Revi, Photographer, Videographer, Lighting and Sound
David Acevedo, Stage Director
Brenda Owwong, Dance and Movement Choreographer
Ellen Yeung, Vocal Coach