Li Chi Slays the Dragon — from Bodies Alive!

 

 

See the video: Li Chi Slays the Dragon from Bodies Alive! 

An ancient Chinese legend brought to life on painted bodies.

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Li Chi Slays the Dragon is one of the stories I tell most frequently. Mostly as a StoryFace, illustrating the tale on the face of one volunteer as I tell it, but, once upon a time, I had the chance to expand the story onto a cast of performers as a tale told with painted bodies. This video is from that performance at the Face and Body Art International Convention in 2008, as part of the Bodies Alive! show we presented there. I was joined in the painting by Christina Davison, Sara Glasgow, and Jennifer Wade, with help from some volunteers, and in performance by Blair Woodward, Cully Firmin, Rebecca Reil and Chloe Agostino. See my StoryFace version of Li Chi live at PIFA. Learn about the Bodies Alive Show. Learn about BodyStories.

My specific inspiration for how to take a legend like this and turn it into a sequence of images on painted bodies came from a puppet show I saw at the New Victory Theatre by Ping Chong, adapting to the stage Japanese ghost stories from the classic movie Kwaidan. Ping Chong’s stage design re-created a cinematic style, varying the size of the puppets and the perspective of the settings he placed them in to do closeups, or long shots or tracking shots, to tell the story sequentially — like in a movie.

The development process included sketches of the body designs which I scanned and then moved around in photoshop to create a rough storyboard, plus some color and design tests done in the course of my regular facepainting gigs. To help the performers understand the visuals that their painted bodies would create on stage, I sketched the designs onto T-shirts for them to wear during rehearsals. Included here are the studio photos taken at FABAIC by Rich Johnson, plus some of the other images created during the process, and since.

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Hero Tales! myths and legends

A special StoryFaces show featuring myths and legends — the original character building programs — to help us to become the hero in our own lives:

My favorite stories to tell to children are traditional hero tales, especially those that feature young or small protagonists, like Li Chi Slays the Dragon, the 2,000 year old tale from China about a brave maiden that saves her village, or Punia and the King

of the Sharks, a Hawaiian tale about a boy who battles a shark. The reason Punia is so brave is because he is small — which is a wonderful encouragement to give to kids, that even the small can be heroes, as in Aesop’s Fable The Lion and the Mouse. The origin tale of The Monkey King could be the plot of a modern superhero movie, with a misfit character that gains great powers and has to learn responsibility. In The Amazing Face, my original story, we see an audience member’s inner hero come to life on their own face. Adventure tales about heroes were the original character building programs and motivational speeches, passed down through generations to inspire listeners to reach for the stars and become the hero in their own lives.

from “Monkey King, Yo!”

Hero Tales! includes some of my favorite hero and adventure stories, presenting these traditional tales in the context of our comic book superhero movie culture. A wide variety of tales are available to suit the age range of your audience, including samurai adventure tales for older students.

 

Workshops — two related workshop programs are available: My Amazing StoryFace writing workshop and Creating Your Personal Superhero mask design workshop. See StoryFaces — Mask Arts Programs for descriptions and teacher’s guides.

 StoryFaces shows are a surprising combination of storytelling and visual arts that fully engages the entire audience.  

See the video: What Is A StoryFace?

Always new stories. Always exciting. As much fun for adults as for kids.

Learn about all we do at:  agostinoarts.com

Nov 9: StoryFaces at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

from the Bethel Woods website:

STORY FACES

WORLD STAGE SERIES

Bethel Woods is excited to host this intriguing, interactive performance!  Catering to family audiences, Christopher Agostino shares discoveries from his 30-year adventure in theatre, storytelling, and painting faces. Audience volunteers are brought on stage and face painted to illustrate the stories as he tells them, fully engaging the audience with a skillful spoken word performance combined with his unique visual art.  After the performance, Agostino will lead two face painting demonstrations/workshops for kids where additional participants can get their faces painted.  For more information about this show, go to Christopher Agostino’s official website

The World Stage Series presents music and performing arts from around the world with the goal of promoting respect for diversity and an appreciation of the arts in all audiences. World Stage Series performances are available for school audiences on school days and for youth, families, and the community on weekend days.

Bethel Woods’ Educational and Children’s programming is supported by Annelise Gerry and Family and the Rhulen/Loughlin Family – In Memory of Trevor John Loughlin.  Transportation, admission, and scholarships provided in part by TD Charitable Foundation and First Niagara Foundation.

Buy Tickets

  • Nov 9 , 2014
  • Event Gallery
  • 1:30 PM Doors Open
    2:00 PM Show Time
  • View Seating Chart
  • FREE – tickets required
  • Sign-up for a free after-show workshop by email at education@bethelwoodscenter.org.
    (max. capacity for each workshop 18 people – two workshops available)
  • Buy Tickets Now

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See the new video: What is a StoryFace?

 

I am a painter and a storyteller, and this is how I tell my stories.
Learn more at http://agostinoarts.com/StoryFaces
Christopher Agostino’s StoryFaces

learn about all we do at: agostinoarts.com

Coming October 25: The Amazing Face Show at Centenary Stage Company

from the Centenary Stage Company website:

The Amazing Face

The Amazing Face

Oct. 25, Sat. 2pm-LITTLE THEATRE The Amazing Face Show features a special selection of fun and surprising StoryFaces! This innovative performance art brings stories to life on the faces of the audience — exciting and scary tales from around the world and original stories to delight audience members of any age. You will be amazed! This is a very different kind of a show, a one-of-a-kind performance to inspire and delight any audience. Audience volunteers are brought on stage and face painted to illustrate the stories, fully engaging the audience with a skillful spoken word performance combined with unique visual art. The amazing face painting captivates the audience while they listen to traditional folktales and original stories, from funny to scary to moving.

Go Here:  For Tickets and More Information

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 See the video — The Amazing Face Video

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learn about all we do at: agostinoarts.com

The Eye of the Demon — a StoryFaces Performance

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a story cycle of Japanese adventure tales

for adults and brave family audiences

samurai vs. demons, ’nuff said

Medieval Japanese legends mixed up with Kabuki theatre and Kuniyoshi prints, Emaki scrolls and Onmiyoji, on top of a childhood of Kurasawa films and Marvel comics.

 ——————  The Stories  ————–

It begins with The Legend of the Haunted Bridge… A soldier brags how he’s never seen anything that frightened him, so the Governor orders him to cross the bridge and find out what the demon that haunts it looks like, “because a man must live up to his words, no matter how foolish they are.” It was the perfect ghost story for a face painting storyteller — perfect because it described the face I’d need to paint to tell it, the face of the demon. It’s a tale I’ve told for many years, and it’s led me on into the thrilling world of samurai.

Raiko vs. the Goblin Earth Spider is a Samurai-Superhero Adventure™, featuring a young Watanabe No Tsuna, the samurai that took care of that demon at the bridge, fighting armies of demons, an evil Spider Woman and a giant spider named Tsuchi-gumo, all at the side of Minamoto no Yorimitsu (aka “Raiko”), the first of the legendary samurai.

Part 3: The Princess Ibaraki and the Tale of the Drunken Demon — The Drunken Demon is a classic tale I saw on an emaki storytelling scroll. It includes the same Raiko and Tsuna defeating the demon, and one of the Drunken Demon’s henchmen escapes to to haunt a bridge. To bring the tales back around together I borrowed a character from the movie Onmyoji, a princess who turns into a demon.

           The Eye of the Demon is a full length StoryFaces performance for adults, with a family friendly version as well. It features retellings of tales from a thousand years ago about Japanese demons (which are more like monsters or ghosts than like devils) and the samurai who fight them, along with personal stories of my discovery of these tales and the art they’ve inspired, and the way this connects to the superhero comics I grew up on.

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By Kuniyoshi. My favorite Japanese printmaker depicted Raiko vs. the Spider several times

——————  The Sources  —————-

My original source for the haunted bridge tale was a story called “The Bridge” in the book Japanese Tales (Royal L. Tyler; Pantheon; 1987), and have since found related and extended versions of this type of tale online. I first came across Raiko vs. the Spider in Short and Shivery: 30 Chilling Tales (Rober San Souci, Doubleday, 1987). When I saw this tale show up again in a print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) in an exhibit at the Japan Society I began to understand the role medieval samurai legends have had in Japanese art and entertainment. For me, these tales are to be enjoyed as much through the illustrations, prints and other visual art they engender as through any text. The images drive the stories.

From a scroll by Kaiho Yuchiku (1654-1728) – The Drunken Demon surrounded by a bevy of ladies

onmyoji_jpgI first met  The Drunken Demon on an emaki at the exhibit Storytelling In Japanese Art at the Met, and again it was visual art driving me deeper into a story to tell. In addition to Raiko and Tsuna, the tale also included a wizard, Abe no Seimei, who I knew from a favorite movie of mine, Onmiyoji. In that movie, he has to solve the mysterious appearance of a namanari,  a living woman who turns into a demon — and I made a place for her in my tale as well.

Ibaraki Demon fleeing with her arm

Ibaraki Demon fleeing with her arm

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The Arm of the Demon

Another illustration in the exhibit was of the Ibaraki Demon stealing her arm back, and finding out just what that was all about led me into the classic tale of Watanabe no Tsuna and his battle with a demon on a bridge — adding a potential new piece to the puzzle. The iconic image of Tsuna cutting the demon’s arm off  has been frequently illustrated by Japanese artists, and led me to another face for my tale.

Emaki are handscrolls that tell such tales through illustration and text, kind of like comic books, and you unroll them as you read them so the images go across your vision as the story progresses, kind of like movies. Finding a way to understand these stories as comic books and superhero movies gives me my own way in. The word “samurai”, to me, means Toshiro Mifune in the Kurasawa films I first saw as a kid. Seeing Kwaidan (1964) really chilled me, and seeing how Ping Chong recreated such a visually complex movie as a live performance with puppets (at the New Victory Theatre) was a major influence on my developing StoryFaces technique.

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Angry Ocean, Waterfall Tears ©2011 Christopher Agostino

To get a feel for this imagery and work out how I can get these images onto a face in a story, my exploration of these tales also included bodypaintings using imagery from Kuniyoshi and other printmakers, one of which was a full re-working of the  Ibaraki Demon tale, but I changed the name to “Irabaki” to indicate it wasn’t the traditional tale I’d found — though now that I’ve seen how many strange and wonderful versions there are for these legends I’m more comfortable taking my own path through to telling them while keeping their names intact.

Painted for Kryolan Professional Makeup at IMATS New York

The Irabaki Demon — a BodyStory — Painted for Kryolan Professional Makeup at IMATS New York

learn about all we do at:  agostinoarts.com  See the video: What Is A StoryFace?

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