Chinese mythical warrior god inspires a musical

Ma Yue
The story of the Chinese mythical warrior god, Yang Jian, has been made into a musical, showing a hero's willpower and courage.
Ma Yue

The musical "God of War" will have its national debut in November at Shanghai's Theater Above.

It revolves around Yang Jian, also known as Erlang Shen, a mythical deity with a third eye in the center of his forehead.

As the son of a mortal and a goddess, he is generally portrayed as a noble and powerful warrior deity who slays and vanquishes demons and monsters, signifying justice and righteousness.

Legend has it that his mother goddess, Yaoji, sister of the Jade Emperor, fell in love and married a scholar who saved her life. When the Jade Emperor, one of the most important gods in Chinese mythology, learned of the marriage, he dispatched forces to capture Yaoji and execute her family. Yang Jian and his sister, Yang Chan, survived.

Yang, who lived in the mountains with his mother and sister, finds it difficult to fit into ordinary people's lives due to his odd birth and strange features. When the god of commandment killed the mother and expelled Yang and his sister, their idyllic lives were shattered. Yang embarks on a violent journey to become a deity in order to protect his sister.

Chinese mythical warrior god inspires a musical
Ti Gong

Ye Qisheng (center) is one of the three actors to play the role of Yang Jian.

"It's all right for a god to have a third eye, but what will life be like for a human with a third eye?" asked Shen Liang, artistic director of the musical.

"That's the motive of this work – a story about how a unique human becomes a god of war, which is also about the dilemma of an individual," said Shen.

Producer and director Liu Xiaoyi choreographed movements for the protagonist to demonstrate his complicated inner world.

Chinese mythical warrior god inspires a musical
Ti Gong

Producer and director Liu Xiaoyi

"We have gods of war in both Western and Eastern legends. Yang is a responsible character who suffered all the tribulation for the sake of what he loved and eventually became a god," said Liu.

The plot of the musical also involved a few other Chinese mythical stories to enrich the characters, highlighting the contradiction in the protagonist's personality.

The creators hope the mythical hero-themed musical can be inspiring for a modern audience. Strength and power are not the only qualities of a hero, but the will and courage to sacrifice for others and fight for noble goals.

Chinese mythical warrior god inspires a musical
Ti Gong

Rehearsing for the musical "God of War"

Performance info:

Dates: November 4-19, 2pm/7:30pm

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

Venue: Theater Above 上剧场

Address: 5/F, 1111, Zhaojiabang Rd 肇嘉浜路1111号5楼

Special Reports