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Drama Canadian

The Forbidden Phoenix

by (author) Marty Chan

lyrics by Robert Walsh

illustrated by Derek Mah

Playwrights Canada Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2011
Canadian, Theater, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2011
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2011
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 14
  • Grade: 3 to 9


Sun Wukong’s goal is simple: to feed his son Laoson. Known to his people as the Monkey King, Sun Wukong leaves his home with a promise to return one day and feed the drought-ravaged city of Jung Guo. Sun Wukong's path, however, becomes a test of strength, agility, and character as he comes face to face with mysterious, enchanting, and heartless creatures. Inspired by the Chinese opera, The Forbidden Phoenix's lyricism brings us to a world where Chinese parables are woven with the painful history of the immigrant men who suffered greatly to build Canada's railroad in the 1800s. Playwright Marty Chan and composer Robert Walsh create a musical rife with stylized characters, lending itself to a performance brimming with acrobatics, slapstick, and martial arts.

About the authors

Raised in Morinville—a small town north of Edmonton, Alberta—Marty Chan is a playwright, radio writer, television story editor, and young adult author. Marty graduated from the University of Alberta in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (English major/drama minor). He fell into improv comedy when he joined Edmonton Theatresports, but his paralyzing stage fright resulted in ”penguin arm“ acting, forcing him to abandon performing and take up writing. His signature play, Mom, Dad, I’m Living With A White Girl, has been produced across Canada, published three times, and broadcast as a radio drama. The stage play won an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Best New Work and the Adams Chinese Theatre Award at Harvard University. In October 2004, the play had a successful Off Broadway run in New York. Marty was a regular contributor to CBC Radio Edmonton from 1994 to 2000. His weekly commentary series, ”The Dim Sum Diaries,“ recounted his misadventures as the only Chinese kid in a small prairie town. These weekly commentaries were adapted into a half-hour television program (The Orange Seed Myth) which won a Gold Medal for Best Television Pilot at the Charleston World Film and Television Festival, and earned Marty a Gemini nomination for best writing in a children’s program. In 2004, Thistledown Press launched Marty’s first young adult novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, which has become a hit with young readers across Canada. Resource Links magazine rated listed it as one of the Best Books of 2004 for grades 3 to 6. Marty was the first playwright in residence at the Citadel Theatre. He also served as the chair of the Edmonton Arts Council and taught playwriting at the U of A. He received an Arts Achievement Award and a Performance Award from the City of Edmonton. He also earned a Horizon Award from the university for his contributions to theatre. Currently, Marty resides in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their two cats, Buddy and Max.

Marty Chan's profile page

SPAN style="WIDOWS: 2 TEXT-TRANSFORM: none TEXT-INDENT: 0px LETTER-SPACING: normal BORDER-COLLAPSE: separate FONT: medium 'Times New Roman' WHITE-SPACE: normal ORPHANS: 2 COLOR: rgb(0,0,0) WORD-SPACING: 0px -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px" class=Apple-style-span&gtSPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman', Roman, serif FONT-SIZE: 16px" class=Apple-style-span&gtRobert Walsh is an award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, guitarist, musical director, and composer/arranger. As an artist, Robert has released four CDs:SPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gtI&gtWalk Through the Fire/I&gt,SPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gtI&gtNo Time Like This Time/I&gt, EM&gtRobert Soul/EM&gt by Robert Walsh and the Fabs, andSPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gtI&gtHybride /I&gtby Franco-Albertan roots group Allez Ouest, of which he is a member.SPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gtI&gtThe Forbidden PhoenixSPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gt/I&gtis Robertâ??s third time as a co-creator of musical theatre. Other musicals include I&gtCatalogue de sociétéSPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gt/I&gt(Alain Pomerleau, playwright) and I&gtThe Velvet DevilSPAN class=Apple-converted-space&gt&nbsp/SPAN&gt/I&gt(Andrea Menard, playwright). Robert teaches songwriting at Grant MacEwan University./SPAN&gt/SPAN&gt

Robert Walsh's profile page

Derek Mah draws and paints in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, which is where he does most of what he does. There are very few things he does away from Calgary. They will not be mentioned here.

Derek Mah's profile page


  • Winner, The Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama

Editorial Reviews

"Chan co-opts the ancient saga of the Monkey King, who travelled far and wide to feed his family, using it as a jumping off point for a touching, witty and exciting fable." —The Toronto Star

"The Forbidden Phoenix is a spectacular East-meets-West musical that is by no means just for kids." —Winnipeg Free Press

Other titles by Marty Chan

Other titles by Derek Mah