Fri, Jan 16, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Beware the year monster

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An ancient Chinese legend holds that a human-eating beast called the Year Monster (年獸) emerges from the sea to wreak havoc on villages every Lunar New Year’s Eve. Deathly afraid of the beast — which in the popular imagination appears with a long head topped with a ferocious-looking horn — villagers would flee their homes to the safety of the mountains.

Shiny Shoes Children’s Theater (鞋子兒童實驗劇團) revives the Chinese tale with its version The Year Monster Has Arrived (年獸來了). The family performance begins tomorrow at Taipei Cultural Center’s Wenshan Branch.

As the tale goes, one year an old man appears in a village requesting shelter for the night. He claims to possess powers that can scare the frightening beast away.

But no one believes him and the villagers continue their yearly custom of fleeing to the mountains. The man, however, stays behind and hangs lanterns and red banners throughout the village. When the beast arrives, it is met with firecrackers that the old man sets off.

The lanterns’ bright lights and the loud banging noises scare the Year Monster and cause it to flee. When the townsfolk return the following day, they find their village intact and their livestock still alive.

From then on, every Lunar New Year’s Eve, villagers hang red banners, set off firecrackers and light lamps the whole night through, thus ensuring that the Year Monster stays away.

Shiny Shoes Children’s Theater has gained a following among parents and children by incorporating contemporary acting techniques and music into age-old tales.

The Year Monster Has Arrived will be performed tomorrow at 7:30pm and on Sunday at 2:30pm at Taipei Cultural Center, Wenshan Branch (社教館文山分館), B2, 32 Jingwen St, Taipei City (台北市景文街32號B2). NT$200 tickets are available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw. Sunday’s performance is already sold out.— Noah Buchan

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