The Friends of Madame White Snake

(a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to building bridges across the world

The Friends of Madame White Snake is a grassroots organization of individuals who are inspired by the story of one individual’s yearning for that one bright life defining moment that illuminates who we are and gives meaning to our existence.  The White Snake’s transformation from demon to human to experience that most human of all emotions – love - is a meditation on what it means to be human, a meditation that continues in us all.

Three years ago, the Friends began to forge alliances with local community groups for outreach and education programs to realize their vision that through the multicultural project that is Madame White Snake, we can build bridges between the Asian and mainstream American communities:  There is no more effective a tool for cross-cultural understanding than cultural immersion through music, drama and dance.

ArtBarn Partnership
Cerise Lim Jacobs, the opera’s creator and librettist, realized that while the opera was a powerful vehicle to reach adults, there had to be a retelling of the myth from the child’s perspective to really reach out to children.  Thus she wrote the children’s musical, “When the White Snake Cries.”  ArtBarn, a local children’s theater group based in Brookline, is producing the play which explores the issues of racism, peer pressure, tolerance and love. 

Three performances are scheduled at the Maliotis Theater in Brookline:  November 21 at 2 and 7pm and November 22 at 4:30pm.  The opening performance on November 21 is free to the public and is sponsored by the Friends in conjunction with ArtBarn and the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (“BCNC”).  This performance is dedicated to the members of our community with an especial interest in Asian art and culture.  The Chinatown community will be offered complimentary transportation to attend this performance.  We hope that it will introduce children to Asian culture and inspire our Asian youth to be proud of their cultural heritage. 

The play will be posted on our website,, for other children’s theater groups or school drama clubs to download and perform.

Other Friends’ projects, past, present and continuing, include:

Brookline Public Library Partnership
The Friends are partnering with the Brookline Public Library to present a series of events on Chinese culture and history:

  • October 2008  Reading of excerpts from the opera libretto with local Brookline personalities and a discussion of Chinese opera
  • November 2009  Musical excerpts from Madame White Snake and the children’s version of MWS entitled, “When the White Snake Cries,” to be followed by a discussion of the different perspectives presented by the children’s play vs. the adult opera
  • January 2010 Madame White Snake exhibit, including shadow puppets, stage miniatures, costumes, etc
  • Ongoing Development of reading list on Chinese history, sociology, art and music

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center Partnership
The Friends are partnering with BCNC to reach the Asian community in the Greater Boston area:

  • May 2009  Reading of excerpts from the opera libretto by local Chinese luminaries at BCNC’s Headquarters and a presentation of music from the opera
  • November 2009 Co-sponsorship of “When the White Snake Cries” at the Maliotis Theater in Brookline
  • November 2009 Performance of excerpts from “When the White Snake Cries” at BCNC’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

Boston Children’s Museum Partnership
Cerise Lim Jacobs has developed a capsule of interactive storytelling of the Legend of the White Snake for 3-7 year olds to be used in the public schools and the Children’s Museum.  Using the traditional Chinese art of ribbon dancing, Cerise has produced a step by step dance narrative for children in which they enact the legend. 

  •  August 2009 The first two “beta” tests of the ribbon dance capsule at the Children’s Museum was a success.  More story telling sessions are planned for January and February 2010.
  • February 2010  Celebration of Chinese New Year at the Children’s Museum with performances of excerpts of “When the White Snake Cries,” ribbon dance capsule, Chinese face painting etc

Partnership with Boston Mayor’s Office
The Legend of the White Snake has its origins in Hangzhou, China, Boston’s sister city.  The Friends have worked with the Boston Mayor’s Office to promote the sister city relationship.  The Mayor has declared February 24, 2010, Madame White Snake Day in Boston.  He has invited the Mayor of Hangzhou to join in the Madame White Snake celebration and to open the opera with him.

  • February 2010  Performance of excerpts of children’s play at Mayor of Hangzhou welcome reception

Primary Source Partnership
We are working with Primary Source, a local educator’s organization dedicated to changing the way students learn by developing broader minds and more inclusive attitudes. By equipping teachers with knowledge and resources, Primary Source prepares students for the challenges of our diverse nation and world.

  • October 2009 Cerise Lim Jacobs will be leading a workshop of 4th and 5th grade teachers on the legends of China, including the Legend of the White Snake.  She will explore how the major Chinese philosophies (Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Legalism) permeate these myths and folk tales.

Madame White Snake Opera Gala Night
The Friends are sponsoring a benefit night on February 24, 2010 for Madame White Snake which will include a special preview of the opera at the Cutler Majestic Theater, to be followed by a celebratory dinner.  We are selling 300 premium tickets at $1,000 each to donors.  The rest of the house (approximately 800 seats) will be donated to community groups.  To date, we have donated blocks of tickets to Boys & Girls Club of Boston, Room to Grow, the Foundation to Be Named, the Brookline Teen Center, the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines), the Veterans, National Guard, Brookline Community Foundation, ArtBarn, Brookline Public Library, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Donate Life, the Jimmy Fund, Brookline 21st Century Fund, Boston University Opera Institute, Met NE Regional Finals, the Josiah Quincy School and other Boston public schools.

The journey continues . . .  We hope you will join us.

The Friends of Madame White Snake

Hsiu-Lan Chang, Chair                         Charles M. Jacobs, President
617 792-5000                      .............  617 803 8199    ...

Cerise Lim Jacobs, Creator and Librettist
617 899-6632