Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Based on the novel by Grace Lin
Adapted for the stage by Jeannine Coulombe
Directed by Justin Anderson

Buy Tickets

February 14-March 9, 2014

14th Street Playhouse
173 14th Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30309

Young Minli lives with her parents near Fruitless Mountain, surviving on the meager fare they can produce. Inspired by the rich tales her father tells (and by magical goldfish), Minli determines she will find the Old Man of the Moon who, it is said, knows the secret of good fortune. On her quest she encounters royalty, dragons, and several more stories, from which she learns what true good fortune really is. Based on the 2010 Newbery Honors book, this “fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore” production is a beautifully-told Wizard of Oz riff with a huge heart. Best for ages 5+.

月夜仙踪  ---Jeannine Coulombe 执导的舞台剧     故事取材于Grace Lin的小说   灵感来源于中国民间传说和舞台剧。这部舞台剧讲述的是一位叫做敏力的小女孩,想要通过寻找月下老人来试图改变自己命运的故事。在寻找的旅途中,与一条龙的结识让她认识到了家庭的重要性。全剧英语演出,适合5岁以及5岁以上观众。  购票和更多的信息请访问:www.synchrotheatre.comboxoffice@synchrotheatre.com  或致电:404.484.8636

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Contact boxoffice@synchrotheatre.com to learn how to bring your book club or other group to see the show!

Please note: the recent sale of 14th Street Playhouse to SCAD will not affect your experience of this production. The dates have shifted by a week, but we will still be at the same venue for the rest of the season! Thank you to our patrons for their concern and inquiries. We are grateful for the extraordinary support of the Woodruff Arts Center through the transition and look forward to working with SCAD for the remainder of our 2013-14 season.


This is an ensemble show, where our actors play multiple characters.  This dynamic ensemble includes:

Yen Nguyen - Minli

Matthew Myers - Ba, Old Man of the Moon, various

Reay Kaplan - Ma, Jade Dragon, various

Jelani Jones - Dragon, various

Vince Canlas - Magistrate Tiger, various

Sam Traquina - Various

Christina Jundt - Various

Production Team

Justin Anderson - Director

Sandra Hughes - Choreographer | Assistant Richelle Sado 

Mike Hickey - Set, Mask, Props & Puppet Design

Jonida Beqo - Costume Design

Kevin Frazier - Lights & Sound Design

Erica Mandato - Stage Manager | Xander Sok - Assistant  Stage Manager & Tristan Ludden - Crew

 Kathy Janich - Dramaturge

Jeanette Matte - Production Manager | Bryan Cort - Technical Director

Plan Your Visit

Synchronicity Theatre's home this season is SCADShow (formerly 14th Street Playhouse)
173 14th Street NE | Atlanta, GA | 30309 | At the corner of 14th and Juniper

Where to Park:
Parking is available immediately adjacent to 14th Street Playhouse in the Lanier Parking deck on Juniper. The parking deck is attended until 45 minutes after the end of the show, so if you go out for a bite afterward, please be sure to take your parking ticket! You will need it to re-enter the parking deck after hours.
Additional parking is available across 14th St. at Colony Square.

Going carless? Good for you! SCADShow is accessible by MARTA train, just 4 blocks away at the Arts Center Station on the Red/Gold lines.

About the Play/Playwright

About the original production in Minneapolis: Chinese-style folk tale unfolds onstage, By Ed Huyck | Reporter, Lakeshore Weekly News

Published April 23, 2012

 Jeannine Coulombe is having a busy week.

The playwright's latest original work, "The Mill," opens over the weekend at the Playwrights' Center. Her adaptation of Grace Lin's "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" opens Friday at Stages.

And considering "The Mill" -- about tensions that engulfed International Falls in 1988 and 1989 centering on the city's main employer, a paper mill -- took a decade to write; the process for "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" has been much quicker.

"I got the commission last March and the first draft was due May 31. We had the final reading of the third draft on Sept. 15 and the drop-dead deadline for completing the fourth draft was in December," said Coulombe, who works as the conservatory director for the company.

"There are some advantages to having a deadline, and there is a sense of responsibility. I work there and with these people. I was able to have conversations during the development," she said.

Of course, there were plenty of challenges along the way, including compressing Lin's 275-page book into a 70-minute play. This came through analyzing the book in search for the core story.

Lin created a Chinese-style folktale to tell at the center of the action and then included 30 more authentic stories in the book.

"I cut out two-thirds of those folk tales. She goes off on quite a few different roads, so any folk tale that wasn't directly tied to the central journey was cut," Coulombe said. "The book is very much about storytelling, and I looked for a theatrical device to include the storytelling element in it. I added having the story told by a group of children. It's their ritual to act out the story of this journey. That troupe of children is onstage the whole time, and you see the story unfold."

The production is co-directed by Stages Sandy Boren-Barrett and Rick Shiomi, the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts, a company that focuses on Asian and Asian-American theater. The company is made up of 18 Asian performers.

Elements of Chinese storytelling and theater are included in the play, including the use of puppets.

"There's a long history of puppetry in China and I love puppets, so I was excited we could get some puppets in the play," Coulombe said.

That ties back into the story as a whole, and the folk tales that make up much of its texture.

"The joy of the book is how all these stories tie together, and I know that to lose that element completely would disappoint the audience who knows the book," she said. "I love how much she riffs on those original folk tales. I have taught them and done my adaptations with students. That's part of the joy of the book and I didn't want to lose that in my attempts to be efficient."

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Jeannine Coulombe had its world premiere at Stages Theatre Company in suburban Minneapolis (Minn.) in April 2012. It’s based on the 2010 Newbery Honors book by Grace Lin.


Coulombe, from International Falls, Minn., is a freelance playwright and teaching artist. She's Conservatory director at Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.

Other details:

 Her 10-plus full-length plays include Beakers and Planting Shelly Anne. Shorter works include Special Talents, Picture.Cigarette and Rose Beds.

 Her plays have been seen at Upright Citizens Brigade, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Manhattan Repertory, Producer's Theatre, Stage Left, History Theatre, Theatre Unbound, Thirst Theatre, Minnesota Fringe, Ebullient Theatre, Playwrights Center, University of

Iowa, University of Minnesota-Duluth and A Theatre Group.

 She won the University of Iowa's IRAM Award for Best New Play (Hummingbirds, 2003), the Maebaum Award (Beakers, 2002) and the National AIDS Fund CFDA-Vogue Initiative Award from the Kennedy Center (The Vacant Lot, 2001.) She was also an alternate for the Jerome Fellowship (2003) and a semifinalist for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference (2002 & 2006.)

 She received her MFA from the University of Iowa's Playwrights Workshop, her BFA in theater and a BA in history from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.


Coulombe's LinkedIn profile:

"I have been writing plays since 1996, prior to that I studied acting and history at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (BFA/BA). I received my MFA in playwriting at the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa.  I write, direct, produce and design costumes in the professional theatre. I am a member of the Workhaus Playwrights Collective in Minneapolis, theatre in residence at the Playwrights Center.

I teach theatre to young people, including acting, play creation, playwriting, and improvisation. I also teach theatre residencies in Minneapolis/St. Paul area schools in support of arts, language arts, reading, writing, and social studies. I have a passion for connecting what I do in my creative work to the education of our young people. Theatre can be a great tool to reaching youth who otherwise are not being reached.

I am the education associate with Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins, MN. I do most of my residency work through this position. I also teach playwriting at the Loft Literary Center (both adult & youth classes) and youth acting with Stagecoach Theatre Arts in St. Paul.


Chinese Folklore/research

Dramaturgical Research for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon 

Courtesy of Kathy Janich, Dramaturge


Supremacy of wisdom over physical strength (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms) — A historical novel written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, set amid the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history.


The story (part historical, part legend, and part myth) romanticizes and dramatizes the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who tried to replace the dwindling Han Dynasty or restore it. The novel follows hundreds of characters, but the focus is mainly on the three power blocs that emerged from the remnants of the Han Dynasty. The novel gives readers a sense of how the Chinese view their history through a cyclical lens. The famous opening lines of the novel summarize this view: “It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.”


Cleverness and resourcefulness (Wu Song Kills a Tiger) — On his way home, Wu Song passed by Jingyang Ridge and killed the fierce tiger there with his bare hands. Thus he became famous and was offered the post of a chief constable in Yanggu Prefecture. By chance, he met his elder brother Wu Dalang, nicknamed the 'Three-inch Nail' for his short stature.


Sources: wikipedia, Opera Boston,http://story-wu-song.blogspot.com



Chinese folklore includes songs, poetry, dances, puppetry and tales. It often tells stories of human nature, historical or legendary events, love and the supernatural, or stories explaining natural phenomena and distinctive landmarks.


The main influences on Chinese folk tales have been Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Some folktales may have arrived from India or West Asia along with Buddhism; others have no known Western counterparts, but are widespread throughout East Asia. Chinese folktales include a vast variety of forms such as myths, legends, fables, etc.

Taoism: A philosophical and religious tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which means "way," "path" or "principle."


Confucianism: An ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. Its core is humanism. It focuses on the practical, especially the importance of the family, and not a belief in gods or the afterlife.


Buddhism: A religion that holds to tenets of "samsara" (the repetitive cycle of birth and death) and karma (good, useful deeds vs. bad, useless deeds). Buddhists pursue wisdom, ethical conduct and concentration.


Modern iterations of traditional Chinese stories can be found internationally as well as in native Chinese literature. Laurence Yep's The Magic Paintbrush, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Walt Disney Pictures' Mulan all borrow from Chinese folklore traditions.


The Magic Paintbrush (2003): Steve can hardly believe it. With his new paintbrush, whatever he paints becomes real. Now he, Grandfather, and Uncle Fong can wish for anything they want. Uncle Fong uses the paintbrush to return to China, to the village of his childhood, and Grandfather wants to visit the Lady on the Moon. Steve wonders if the paintbrush can bring his parents back. But they all soon realize the paintbrush might have its own agenda.

The Woman Warrior (1975): A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity.

REVIEW: The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California. Maxine Hong Kingston distills the dire lessons of her mother's mesmerizing "talk-story" tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upward. The author's America is a landscape of confounding white "ghosts"--the policeman ghost, the social worker ghost--with equally rigid, but very different rules. Like the woman warrior of the title, Kingston carries the crimes against her family carved into her back by her parents in testimony to and defiance of the pain.

Mulan (1998): This retelling of the old Chinese folktale is about the story of a young Chinese maiden who learns that her weakened and lame father is to be called up into the army in order to fight the invading Huns. Knowing that he would never survive the rigors of war in his state, she decides to disguise herself and join in his place. Unknown to her, her ancestors are aware of this and to prevent it, they order a tiny disgraced dragon, Mushu, to join her in order to force her to abandon her plan. He agrees, but when he meets Mulan, he learns that she cannot be dissuaded and so decides to help her in the perilous times ahead.

Sources: Amazon, Internet Movie Database and wikepedia

“I never thought I’d find a friend like you.” - DRAGON

Chinese dragons

Chinese dragons are legendary creates in Chinese mythology and folklore. In Chinese art, they are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs. Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength and good luck for people who are worthy of it. The Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.

In Chinese daily language, outstanding people are compared to a dragon; incapable people are compared with disesteemed creatures, such as a worm. A number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to a dragon, for example: "Hoping one's son will become a dragon" (become a dragon).

The dragon is known by many names in Chinese mythology: Lung Meng, Long Wang, Na-achia and NAGA. The dragon is a symbol of strength, goodness, and the spirit of change. Dragons changed quite a bit in Chinese mythology through the centuries.

At first, all were helpful and beloved water gods. In later centuries, there were two kinds of dragons, the old friendly dragons and a new breed of terrifying winged serpents of the mountains. The negative view of dragons, it is said by scholars, followed the influence of BUDDHISM, in which they were identified with harmful powers and spirits.

In ancient Chinese myth dating to the prehistoric period, dragons were presented as serpents with a horse’s head, two horns and a pearl in the center of the forehead. The earliest dragons had no wings but could fly by magic. They brought rain to the crops, blew their misty breath across the marshes, lived at the bottoms of large lakes and seas, and kept the rivers flowing to the villages and cities.

The gods and IMMORTALS rode on dragons’ backs across the seas from the sacred islands where they lived or flew on their backs to visit the HEAVENS. The legendary EMPERORS were said to travel in fancy CHARIOTS pulled by dragons. The mythical emperor YU, founder of the XIA DYNASTY, was supposed to have been born as a winged dragon. Emperors after him claimed to be descendants of the dragon.

It was a high honor for a person to be given an honorary dragon name. The dragon is associated with the east, the direction of sunrise and, in general, positive actions. Some ancient Chinese held dragon processions or festivals, welcoming the dragons and their life-giving rains back each spring. People also painted dragons with four claws on the doors of temples and on the walls surrounding villages and towns to invite the rains and to keep these places safe from harm. Another belief seen in some early myths was the dragon’s power to change its size and shape — it could be as tiny as a silkworm or as huge as the entire sky. It could also become invisible whenever it chose, a handy quality in war. According to folk belief, once a year, the dragons flew to the heavens to make their annual reports.


Chinese goldfish

Fish are an important motif in Chinese mythology. The word for "fish," yu is a homophone for "abundance" and "affluence.” The Chinese dragon is the head of the fish clan. The carp, a golden fish, is highly revered for its strength & perseverance in swimming upstream. The Chinese pinyin character for "fish" is the same as the one for "wealth" or "abundance." Gold carp were the most prized, and silver carp were the cheapest.

Sources: Dramaturg Chad Henry; wikipedia

This symbol (pictured) means abundance of gold, making the goldfish a popular symbol in the Chinese culture. One of the most popular New Year's images is a child holding a large goldfish and a lotus flower, which brings both wealth and harmony. A goldfish embroidered on a bag or shirt is a sure-fire way to bring the energy of abundance into your life.


A token of wealth and abundance in Chinese myth and lore, as well as a symbol for harmony, reproduction, and marital happiness. The ancient Chinese carved stone, wood, and PEACH pits in the shape of a fish to use as CHARMS of good fortune. Temple courtyards often contained pools or ponds filled with carp or goldfish to signify abundance and harmony. The carp was considered a symbol of perseverance and skill in the martial arts.



More than 2000 years ago, a favorite concubine of Wu Emperor of the Han Dynasty died of illness; the emperor missed her so much that he lost his desire to reign. One day, a minister happened to see children playing with dolls where the shadows on the floor were vivid. Inspired by this scene, the smart minister hit upon an idea. He made a cotton puppet of the concubine and painted it. As night fell, he invited the emperor to watch a rear-illuminated puppet show behind a curtain. The emperor was delighted and took to it from then on. This story recorded in the official history book is believed to be the origin of shadow puppetry.



 Kites were invented in China, where ideal materials were readily available: 


silk fabric for sail material; fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line; and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework. The earliest kites flew in the fifth century B.C.

Paper kites were being flown by AD 549. They were being used for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, and signaling and communication for military operations.


The designs on most Chinese kites have a symbolic meaning from Chinese folklore or history. Tortoises, cranes and peaches signify long life, bats are a sign of good luck, butterflies and flowers represent harmony, and a dragon design represents power and prosperity.  

There's an old saying in China: "Those who fly a kite can have a long life."

About the Author - Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin was published Dec. 31, 2012, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Grace Lin is a children’s author and illustrator whose parents emigrated from Taiwan. As a child, she read Chinese folktales but was frustrated by poor translations. It was only when she was older and visited Asia that she appreciated and understood the stories. Lin attended Rhode Island School of Design and then began writing children’s literature. She's won numerous awards for her books, including a Newbery Honor in 2010. She lives in Somerville, Mass., with her husband and daughter.


Q: Why do you think it's important for kids to read books about different cultures?


A: Well, first of all, I think they should read about different cultures because it's fun! You get to travel and experience the world without having to step on an airplane. But not only is it fun, I think it is important for kids to read things from a different point of view...Reading books about another culture is a great way to find out that foreign cultures really aren't that strange, that underneath it all we have many similarities--which is a great foundation for connecting with the world.

Q: What's the biggest thing you've ever done to change your fate?


A: Hmm, the thing about fate is that you never know what caused it. Little decisions can have big consequences and vice versa. Most recently, I had a baby which was a pretty big fate-changer! So perhaps that is the biggest thing I have done...at least so far!

Q: If you could ask the Man in the Moon a question, what would it be?


A: Oh, that is a hard one! Maybe I would ask, "How can I know I am always making the right decision?"

Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Grace's 2010 Newbery Honor book WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON was chosen for Al Roker's "Today Show" Kid's Book Club and was a New York Times Bestseller. LING & TING, Grace's first early reader, won the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011 and was an Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the United States. Most of her books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, "Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal."

Source: Grace Lin's website


Why couldn't Snow White be Chinese? Finding identity through children's books


By Grace Lin (excerpted)

When I was in third grade, the class decided to put on a production of The Wizard of Oz. The news spread across the playground like an electrical current, energizing every girl to ask, "Who will play Dorothy?"


The thought was thrilling and delicious, each of us imagining ourselves with ruby shoes. I whispered to my friend Jill, "Do you think I could be Dorothy?"


Jill stared at me in shock, "You couldn't be Dorothy. You're Chinese. Dorothy's not Chinese."


And then I remembered. I was different. I felt stupid for even thinking I could be the star of a play. That Dorothy, like everyone and everything else important, was not like me.


And what was I? Jill had bluntly termed me Chinese. But I didn't feel Chinese. I spoke English, I watched Little House on the Prairie, learned American history and read books about girls named Betsy and boys named Billy. But, I had black hair and slanted eyes, I ate white rice at home with chopsticks and I got red envelopes for my birthday.


Did I belong anywhere?


The books that I loved and read did not help me answer that question. Betsy and Billy were nice friends but they didn't understand. Neither did Madeline, Eloise or Mike Mulligan. Cinderella, Snow White? I didn't even try to explain.


Rikki Tikki Tembo and Five Chinese Brothers tried to be pals, but really what did we have in common?


Nothing. And so I remained different from my friends in real life, different from my fictional friends in stories ... somehow always different.


I'm older now, and wiser, and I appreciate that difference. Instead of the curse I had felt it was during my childhood, I now treasure it. I realize the beauty of two cultures blending and giving birth to me (!), an Asian-American.


When I decided to create children's books as my profession, I remembered my own childhood. I remembered the books I wished I had had when I was a child. Books that would have made me feel like I belonged, that there was someone else like me out there, and that who I was, was actually something great.


So with this in mind, I create my books. I try to make books that make readers appreciate Asian-American culture. I try to make books that the contemporary child can relate to. I try to make books that encourage Asian-American children to embrace their identities.

Do these books make a difference? I think so. In my life, moments of insecurity and isolation could have been erased simply by having a book transform into a friend that shared what I saw and what I am.

And, perhaps, if these books had been generously spread, exposing children of all races to the Asian part of the melting pot, perhaps then my childhood friend Jill would not have said, "Dorothy's not Chinese," but rather, "Sure, Dorothy could be Chinese."

Why not? I'd click my heels three times to wish that.



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