Hong Kong Playwriting in English
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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... The last decade of the twentieth century and the beginning of the new century has been a time of change for both Cantonese and English theatre in Hong Kong. The 1990s was a liminal decade of shifting identities — the Westernized Hong Kong Chinese population returning to a 'motherland' generally perceived as being culturally alien, while members of the large British expatriate community were getting used to being tenants rather than landlords. ...
Hong Kong-based English-language Theatre
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It is intended here to provide an introduction to the topic of English-language theatre in Hong Kong as a general phenomenon, before introducing the selected plays for the present anthology. Since the late 1980s there has been a tendency away from the hitherto exclusively expatriate and British amateur dramatic ethos towards an arguably richer and more culturally diverse environment. In this more plural context, some English-language theatre in Hong Kong from ...
There Are No Innocents Here
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My first encounter with English-language theatre in Hong Kong was in the mid-1970s, soon after returning home from the US where I had spent three years completing my bachelor's degree. In college, I had acted a little and wanted to continue that interest. This led me to audition for a local amateur group, the Garrison Players. The verdict, however, had nothing to do with whether or not my audition was any good. The reason they said they could not cast ...
About the Playwrights
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Veronica Needa Born in Hong Kong to Eurasian parents and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Veronica Needa is at home in both English-speaking and Cantonese-speaking circles. Having worked in theatre in different capacities with Chung Ying in Hong Kong and with Yellow Earth Theatre in London, she has become an accomplished performer, deviser, storyteller and ...
SECTION ONE - Hong Kong Identity
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Face was first performed in 1998 in Cantonese at the McAulay Studio Theatre in the Hong Kong Arts Centre. The Cantonese premiere was swiftly followed by the first English performance at the Hong Kong Fringe Club a month later, and subsequent revivals have been popular and critically acclaimed. Both performances were given under the auspices of locally founded theatre company No Man's Land and with the direction and design of Tang ...
Looking for Stones
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Looking for Stones relies essentially on dialogue, almost inevitably for a radio play, but some of the play's most poignant moments are conveyed through its monologues and temporal disjunctions, which signify the piecing together of a fragmented tale. Its high quality production and evocative sound effects demand a hearing to complement a mere reading of the script, since as a piece it is very much the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, the script is lively and ...
The Life and Times of Ng Chung Yin: A Hong Kong Story
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Ng Chung Yin was a Hong Kong activist in the 1970s and 1980s. His causes were legion from colonial issues, including the right of Chinese in the territory to have equal official language status with English, labour disputes and latterly the democracy movements in China, culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He was an able, well-informed and persuasive columnist and editor, and subsequently essayist. The targets for his criticism were not only the ...
Back to the Wall
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Amid a slew of topical new works in Chinese and English, Teresa Norton and Nury Vittachi managed to produce the quintessential Hong Kong Handover play in the 1995 piece, Back to the Wall. The play was based on a true-life experience by Norton, which she recounted in her South China Morning Post column. She recalls seeing a six- or seven-year-old child lying dead on a street in North Point, and discusses her reactions and those of other passers-by, as well ...
Two Girls from Ngau Tau Kok
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Two Girls from Ngau Tau Kok is first and foremost a Cantonese-language theatre hit that metamorphosed into an unlikely English-language success for Radio and Television Hong Kong's (RTHK) Worldplay in 2003. Adapting the overwhelmingly local and ethnic feel of the original stage version for the less concrete and tangible audience of international radio might have resulted in the loss of this charming autobiographical drama's authenticity. Fortunately, the result of the trans-medium and trans-linguistic migration was not only ...
SECTION TWO - Expatriate Identity
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Looking for Stones and Gymnopedy have local Hong Kong significance, partly because the former is based on co-writer Simon Wu Chi-kuen's personal experience of Hong Kong childhood. Gymnopedy, by contrast, was originally an English-language play with UK references. In part, though, it became more of a local play because it was translated from the English original and performed at the Shouson Theatre of the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1996, with obviously ...
The MacLehose Trail
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Written at a similar time as Amah Drama, but treating the themes of Hong Kong's social hierarchies with a wittily perspicacious blend of Wilde-like farce and social critique, Tom Hope and Dave Anderson's The MacLehose Trail tells a distinctly Hong Kong-flavoured tale combining socialite antics, sexual intrigue, marathon walking and charity. The MacLehose Trail-walk, which continues to flourish tenaciously in the post-Handover climate of Hong Kong, is an impressive fund-raising event for a raft of charities. Named after one of Kong ...
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Rob McBride's Amah Drama shares this characteristic with The MacLehose Trail — and of course they were both written for and performed by the Not So Loud Theatre Company — namely, strong central roles for female actors. Amah Drama, while not perhaps representing the subtlest aspects of Hong Kong's dramatic writing inasmuch as it is something of a farce, certainly brings to stage life types we all know in Hong Kong. Blase civil servant, Jack, can ...
SECTION THREE - Chinese Identity
The Seventh Drawer
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'I hate the history in me!' states teenage protagonist Fanny vehemently in the early part of this ambitiously deconstructive psychodrama by Hoyingfung, written as part of his Theatre Fanatico series, and first performed in English in Singapore, prior to its Hong Kong premiere in 2003 in Cantonese translation/adaptation. The writer himself refers to the play as 'a dreamscape', suggesting 'the absurdity of human history'. In this piece the ensemble-based ...
The Naked Earth
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Evans Chan creates a cross-cultural 'guide' in the character of Herb, an American army officer and counter-intelligence corps intenogator, to negotiate a path through his dramatic adaptation of Eileen Chang's own English version of the novel, which is based on her original Chinese text. Chang, like Evans Chan, was a former Hong Kong resident and studied English at the University of Hong Kong. The drama is framed by Herb's Korean War experience, during ...
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Millennium Autopsy is the middle play in a trilogy created by a team for the Hong Kong-based theatre group No Man's Land between 1997 and 2000. The Life and Death Trilogy is inspired by puppet theatre and other non-naturalistic modes of creative theatre, and was intended as an experimental project with the goal of extending modes expression in Hong Kong theatre practice. The second play in the trilogy was commissioned for the Hong Kong Arts Festival ...
SECTION FOUR - Losing Identity
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Based on Nikolai Gogol's celebrated and wickedly ironic tale of a lonely civil servant in pre-revolutionary Russia, Theatre du Pif's highly physical and imagistic piece of stylized theatre reinterprets the satirical masterpiece for a modern and local audience. In the Pif version, the chronically shy and perennially downtrodden copy clerk Akaky Akakyevich's character is faithfully depicted, but the implicit frame of reference of their version is the modem city such ...
The Ivor Gurney Show
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Piers Gray, Hong Kong University academic, respected essayist, dramatist and director and, incidentally, brother of London-based playwright Simon Gray, cuts an enigmatic though influential figure on the Hong Kong literary scene. His premature death at the age of forty-nine deprived the English-language theatre scene of a very witty and wide-ranging voice. His plays included the China-set spy story, The Twelfth Man, and a number of short pieces, most ...
The Yellow Wallpaper
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The Yellow Wallpaper, based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman's turn-of-the-century novella about a writer repressed by a patriarchal society, represented by her husband and the family doctors, going slowly mad in her confinement, was adapted by Theatre Action for solo performances in English and Chinese at the McAulay Studio Theatre of the Hong Kong Arts Centre by Jessica Yeung. As with Veronica Needa's Face, this was a performance that was intended to ...
Hong Kong: One Woman
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This new play is the first of a trilogy of plays in preparation, recounting the life stories of women in Southeast Asia before the relative emancipation that came with the spread of more Westernized and individualistic attitudes and the introduction of a certain degree of gender equality in parts of the region. The first one presents the story of a former singer from Shanghai, who came to Hong Kong to find work and ended up becoming the mistress of a ...
Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2005