The Hong Kong Three Sisters

The emptiness of Hong Kong people’s life will go naked in Alice Theatre Laboratorys anatomy of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. The Hong Kong Three Sisters is a highly localised fusion of Hong Kong and the essence of the classic Russian play.

Adapted by Director Andrew Chan who commented “There is a glimpse of hope shown in Chekhov’s characters’ minds. In contrast, our life in Hong Kong has lost its balance in recent years, there is a lack of direction within the region and the things people used to strive for are realistically now beyond them.”

“Modern Hong Kong is the backdrop to this creative interpretation” continued Chan, “Chekhov captured the average Russian’s lifestyle a century ago.” Seasoned by minimalism, The Hong Kong Three Sisters is ‘molecular gastronomic dish’, which is the sublimation of Chekhov’s ideas in a post-modern presentation devised by Chan or as he puts it “A “molecular” presentation that aims to reveal the status quo of the Hong Kong people today.”

Ahead of it’s World Premiere in January bc magazine spoke to Director Andrew Chan and actress Chan Shui Yu (Olga/Alice) about the new minimalist production.

Director Andrew Chan

Why did you choose a minimalist approach to the play?
From time to time, there is discussion among directors in Hong Kong about using a bare stage or very few props. They are regarded as minimalists. I have been wondering whether this artistic approach, which originated in the 60s and 70s, is that simple. German architect Ludwig Miles van der Rohe says, “Less is more.” I have been thinking over how much means “less” and how much means “more”. I like learning new ideas and believe the world of knowledge has no borders. That is why I take every project or performance as a learning opportunity, which lets me wander on a theatrical journey among different artistic forms and styles. This journey is an expedition in the realm of “minimalism”.

What attracted you to Chekov’s The Three Sisters?
“Minimalism is Talent’s sister.” This is what Russian novelist and playwright Anton Chekhov once said. Owing to this quotation, I linked minimalism with his works and read them again. In terms of conciseness, his novellas are the best. In his condensed writings, the ordinary, vulgar and deplorable life in the Tsardom of Russia is vividly revealed. Each story is a picture illustrating the joy and sorrow of life.

My favourite Chekhov’s play is actually The Seagull. Yet, The Three Sisters touches me more deeply. Irina’s line “Moscow! Moscow! Moscow!” reminds me of the current situation in Hong Kong. The Three Sisters is a story before the October Revolution when people are facing the fall of the Empire and expecting the arrival of a new era.

They are like waiting in the dark before dawn and braving the great change with an anonymous pain in the heart. Aren’t we, Hong Kong people who are nostalgic for the “good old days”, facing various difficulties and braving the unforeseeable tomorrow? More than a century ago, the Russian three sisters could dream of Moscow, but now what can we dream of? Where can we go?

How Did The Hong Kong Three Sisters Evolve?
In the process of rehearsal, new ideas emerged and the play has evolved and branched out into the life of Hong Kong stage actors after they take their costumes off. There are a property agent, a podcast anchor of a conspiracy forum, an assistant professor of the Medicine Faculty, a tour guide and a spiritual counselor who are meeting different Hong Kong people with different problems. Their stories are actually like novellas which resemble the works by the contemporary American novelist Raymond Carver, who is known as “the American Chekhov”. Without redundant structure, his concise language leads readers to the core of the story directly and lets them experience the tension of the conflict that elicits no background nor ending. Only the selected part of the story is told. On our stage, there will be a few scenes like Carver’s novellas, illustrating no pretext nor resolution, but the very moment.

What Makes The Hong Kong Three Sisters Unique?
What makes The Hong Kong Three Sisters different from our previous productions is the way it lets you “escape” from reality but makes you “face” the reality. It is also dealing with complicated issues in a minimalist form.

Chan Shui Yu

What Attracts You to The Three Sisters
As a graduate from HKAPA, I am excited about the opportunity to perform classical plays, let alone the challenge of adapting a masterpiece, such as Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. From character analysis to adaptation, it has been a beautiful and pleasant journey. Like our previous performances, which were created by ensemble effort, this production is telling stories in a unique, organic and realistic way.

What parallels do you see between the play and Hong Kong today?
It was touching to read the script of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters as the story illustrates exactly Hong Kong’s environment and situation today. Even if we are proud of the good old days, we still need to carry on with best wishes. We believe the best is yet to come and our effort today will pay in the future and pave the way for our next generation.

Do you think that women today in Hong Kong face the same problems as those in Chekov’s time?
Chekhov’s works are universal. It seems women enjoy more freedom nowadays but still the women today are facing the same issues related to family, marriage, love and work like the women in the old days. We find the women today as strong and determined as the ones in The Three Sisters.

Chekhov’s works mainly deal with the social issues in Russia in the late 19th century, including the rise of businessmen, the fall of landlords and the social status before the October Revolution. In the meantime, his works also reveal the absurdity of the world today, the anxiety of our current life and the collapse of the old values. However, there is always hope in his works and the characters project an optimistic sense. His characters are stranded in the midst of joy and sorrow but still carry on bravely.

Through the play Chekov presents various opinions about what it is to live a good life. What do you think living a good life for a HK woman looks like today?
We would also like to find out the answer. Olga says in Act 4, “If only we knew, if only we knew!” But it is certain that we are all positive.

Character List
OlgaAlice  Chan Shui Yu
VershininKwong – Chau Ka Fai
AndreiAugust – Leung Chi Chung Eric
TuzenbachDamon – Lai Ho Yin Desmond
MashaSue – Fung Siu Shan Phoebe
NatashaHilda – Yuen Wai Ying Grace
IrinaKitty – Chan Hui Yan Candy

Director: Chan Hang Fai Andrew
Playwright: Anton ChekhovDevised by Alice Theatre Laboratory

The Hong Kong Three Sisters
Alice Theatre Laboratory
When:
6-8 January, 2017
Where: HK Cultural Centre, Studio Theatre
How much: $200, $160 from Urbtix
More info:
Cantonese drama with Chinese and English surtitles
6–7 Jan, 2017 – 8pm
7–8 Jan, 2017 – 3pm

Djiboutii 2nd Anniversary – GO Bananas! – 20 December, 2016

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Djiboutii celebrated it’s 2nd Anniversary by going bananas on the 20 December 2016. The alley bar on Landale Street in Wanchai decorated the area with real bananas, banana paintings, costumes, cocktails and food. It was a little bananas, silly and fun.
Click on any photo for the full gallery.

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‘Twas The Week Before Christmas…

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It’s the week before Christmas and you’ve got nothing ready or planned… While the festive season for many in Hong Kong has zero religious significance it is a time for gifts and feasting. And there is no better gift that either cooking someone a good meal or gifting them a tasty bite. Thankfully our local supermarkets are all up to speed and there to make your life easy and Christmas a tasty treat.

bc‘s ‘no cooking needed’ Christmas feast starts with a trip to Great in the basement of Pacific Place with a side stop at Marks & Spencer is all you need – in fact a trip to Great’s website probably suffices as whether you want roast turkey, beef, lamb or pork all can be ordered online and delivered or collected. They also offer all the trimmings: roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing…. The roasts can be ordered uncooked or cooked and in different sizes depending on your needs.

White truffle and caviar at Great’s luxury food counter

Starter
Smoked salmon: IKEA offers packs of frozen smoked salmon (Lax Kallrökt) $69 for 200g.

Main
Roast Turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce.
Roast Turkey: Great: cooked US roast turkey $120-220/kg (4-6kg). Buy at the cooked food counter including Christmas Day. They also have roast beef, roast lamb and baked gammon if you prefer something other than turkey.
Roast potatoes: Great: cooked
Parsnips: Great: cooked and raw
Brussels sprouts: Great: cooked and raw
Red cabbage: sadly we couldn’t find any cooked this year
Turkey gravy/ bread sauce: Marks & Spencer: $49/400g
Cranberry sauce: Marks & Spencer: $49/400g
Stuffing: Marks & Spencer: sage and onion/ cranberry & orange stuffing
Bacon wrapped sausages: still unable to find this staple side dish in a cooked version.

Dessert
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter
Christmas pudding: Great: Cole’s Classic Christmas Pudding ($159/454g),
Brandy Butter: Great: Cole’s Brandy Butter $15.5/42g
Panettone: Great: An Italian Christmas favourite that can be enhanced wonderfully with a can of classic Bird’s custard mixed with a dash of brandy/ rum.

Cheese
Great’s cheese room is one of the wonders of Hong Kong, the choice is varied, constantly changing, delicious and if you’re used to US and European cheese prices, expensive – but what is Christmas without cheese?
English Stilton: Great: $46/100g

Christmas Cake + Mince Pies
A good tasty Christmas cake is a Christmas necessity, especially one with marzipan and Royal icing.
Christmas Cake: Great and M&S have several choices at different prices from $89 (Gluten free – M&S) upwards. Most are sadly more like fruit cakes than Christmas cake which is a shame as the two are subtly different in taste.
Mince Pies: Again Great and M&S have several choices, but after sampling several none are that special that we recommend one over another.

Drinks
Mulled Wine: Great: Shropshire Spice Traditional Mulled Wine Mix: $33.9/8g

Store Details + Contacts:
Great Basement Pacific Place, Admiralty Tel: 2918 9986 www.greatfoodhall.com
IKEA Causeway Bay, Shatin, Kowloon Bay www.ikea.com.hk
Marks & Spencer various stores www.marksandspencer.com

Edit: 21 Dec – Added Christmas cake photo and updated text

Hong Kong v Japan World Cup Qualifier @ HK Football Club – 17 December, 2016

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What an 8 days!!
Today’s match ended in defeat to Japan 20-8, but barring the first 8 minutes Hong Kong held their own against a talented Japanese side. A significant improvement on the Asian Championships when HK were soundly beaten in both games.

In truth this was a good game to lose, amidst the two World Cup pools there looks to be one winnable game for either Japan or Hong Kong and that is Wales – and they’re in Pool C with Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

A lot of work to do between now August 2017, hopefully the HK Rugby Union will properly fund the players and their training! This is a magnificent achievement. Congratulations to the whole squad and the coaches!!!
Click on any photo for the full gallery.

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Pride In The Shirt

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Hong Kong’s historic qualification for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup “sets a real precedent about the potential we have in Hong Kong,” said coach Jo Hull after watching Japan beat Fiji on Tuesday – completing the line-up for next year’s showpiece in Ireland.

Hull’s side opened the three-team qualifying tournament with a 45-7 win over Oceania qualifiers Fiji, and with Japan beating the Pacific Island nation 55-0, Hong Kong are guaranteed a place at next year’s 12-team tournament alongside the Asian champions Japan.

It marks the first-time any Hong Kong team will feature at a fifteen-a-side World Cup. “It’s huge; it’s hard to put it into words. For Hong Kong women’s rugby, hopefully it is going to be a huge turnaround and encourage youngsters and women to get involved and play in that Hong Kong jersey and take a lot of pride in that,” said Hull after having watched Japan run in eight tries against Fiji at King’s Park.

https://youtu.be/IVknFGHm11U

Hong Kong face the Asian champions on Saturday at Hong Kong Football Club to determine the winner of the qualifier and will be looking to avenge their defeats in the Asia Rugby Championship earlier this year.

“We are happy with qualifying for the World Cup, but we are focused on our next task. Japan play the Japan style and are fast and play at a high tempo,” said Hong Kong captain Chow Mei-nam.

“We will look to do our own jobs and play our own style to beat them. We are confident to beat them and be the first team in Asia.”

The winner on Saturday will join hosts Ireland as well as France and Australia in pool C of the tournament which takes place between 9-16 August next year, with those three teams “huge in terms of their skill level” according to Hull.

The runner-up will join 2014 second place finishers Canada, New Zealand and Wales in pool A, which Hull believes “is undoubtedly the most physical pool,” with defending champions England, the USA, Italy and Spain drawn in pool B.

“It will be pretty amazing for these girls. Whoever we play against, it is just about being the best we can be and being in that environment and enjoying it, but most importantly representing Hong Kong and taking pride in that,” added Hull.

“A lot of the girls have played these teams at sevens, but to come together and play them at fifteens will be an amazing experience. We want to do well. We don’t just want to turn up; having earned our place, we want to justify being there.”

Next year will represent a third World Cup appearance for Hull who was assistant coach for Scotland in 2006 before returning four years later as performance manager.

“Going to a World Cup is an experience you will never get in any other walk of your life. It is three weeks of intense pressure, but it is an amazing three weeks, surrounded by amazing athletes and coaches and a really high performance culture. It is about celebrating how far women’s rugby has come,” she said.

“Both my experiences showed how competitive and how far the women’s game has come. To be there you have to be prepared. You have to be ready for the pressure, and you have to be able to perform at the right time.

“We are not getting ahead of ourselves and saying we can go and win the World Cup, but if we are there, we want to give a good account of ourselves for Hong Kong so we get young kids, girls and women saying they want to be there in 2021,” Hull added.

Hong Kong v Japan
Women’s World Cup Qualifier
Date: 4:30pm, 17 December, 2016
Venue: HK Football Club
Tickets: Free

Hong Kong Qualify for Women’s World Cup

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Massive congratulations to Hong Kong’s womens rugby team for qualifying for the 2017 World Cup in Ireland!!!

What an absolutely historic achievement for the players and the coaches!

Hong Kong’s qualification was confirmed when Japan beat Fiji 55-0 at King’s Park today. Hong Kong will play Japan on Saturday at the HK Football Club (4:30pm) to decide the winners of the World Cup Qualifier and who will face hosts Ireland as well as France and Australia in Pool C. The runner-up will join WRWC 2014 runners-up Canada, New Zealand and Wales in Pool A.

Womens Rugby World Cup
Date: 9-26 August, 2017
Venue: Dublin, Ireland

Early Cinematic Treasures

Eight early Hong Kong films will be screened from 11 February – 1 April at the Hong Kong Film Archive as part of the third instalment of the Early Cinematic Treasures Rediscovered series. The films in the series are: Rivals in Love (1939), The Blood-Stained Peach Blossom Fan (1940), The Evil Mind (1947), The Inscrutable Heart of Women (1947), Return of the Swallows (1948), A Poor Lover’s Tears (1948), The Birth of Kiddy Stone (1949) and To Kill the Love (1949).

An exhibition entitled Rediscovering Mak Siu-ha – A Talent of Multiple Trades will run concurrently showcasing Mak as a multi-talented Cantonese opera scriptwriter, composer and filmmaker who was active in the 1930s.

The two pre-war film, So Yee’s Rivals in Love (1939) and Mak Siu-ha’s The Blood-Stained Peach Blossom Fan (1940), are the only surviving prints of the two Cantonese directors’ early work and are immensely precious. In Rivals in Love, Tam Lan-hing is at once alluring and virtuous as a sacrificial mother who hopes to raise her daughter (Tsi Lo-lan) properly. However, after being adopted by an aunt, the daughter grows up to be a spoilt and vain brat. Placing Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan in the Chinese social context with patriotic save-our-country sentiments, the film showcases the contextual changes when adapting Western literature into an Eastern film.

The Blood-Stained Peach Blossom Fan focuses on a group of businessmen as their indifference to the war evolves to a devotion to saving their country. The film features an amazing sword-dance performed by Cheang Mang-ha, the wife of Tong Tik-sang.

Adapted from a newspaper serial by Ling Siu-sang, The Evil Mind‘s (1947) roller-coaster plot, depicts the erosion of humanity and social order after war. Ng Cho-fan turns from do-gooder to evil-doer and heads towards self-destruction, Wong Man-lei is an able policewoman who becomes a helpless woman, Siu Yin Fei plays an immaculate maiden who dies as a victim of assault, and upright teacher Lo Duen becomes blind and succumbs to the evil tricks of his students. The arrangement of the film also reflects the chaos and unrest that rattled the post-war Hong Kong film industry.

In But Fu‘s The Inscrutable Heart of Women (1947), Pak Yin plays a devoted wife who allows her husband to keep his lover, a songstress, as a concubine but later intends to kill her out of jealousy. Pak shines in a darker and more perverse role in a departure from her unusual persona repertoire. Director But Fu builds up the dramatic tension with liberal use of close-ups and consistent application of spatial contrast.

Return of the Swallows (1948) centres on a love triangle between a handsome heir (Sit Kok-sin) and two sisters (Siu Yin Fei and Tsi Lo Lin). A fantastic array of supporting actors is brought in as comic foils to flesh out and give context to the portrayal of hardship and woe of survival in the post-war era.

A Poor Lover’s Tears (1948) follows Pak Yin, who migrates from the Mainland and is employed as the personal secretary of a factory manager because of her appealing appearance. Adapted from a novel by Mong Wan, the film portrays Pak as a woman who does not believe in love, a rare persona in the Hong Kong cinema in the ‘40s, and carrying an unexpected storyline as well.

Featuring the gifted Cantonese opera star Yu Kai, The Birth of Kiddy Stone (1949) tells of Kiddy Stone, who transforms from a son of a destitute family suffering from bullying to a brave and heroic army general. The 10-year-old Yu displays his talents by excelling in a variety of theatrics, and thus became a box office draw with his playful character. The eclectic mix of special effect stone figures interspersed with Cantonese ditties and lyrics makes the film a delight to watch.

Chu Kea’s melodrama To Kill the Love (1949) is an adaptation of a newspaper serial by Yee Hung-sang. It follows two educated sisters (Pak Yin and Tsang Nam-sze) getting married to the same man. The husband who dares to fight for independence and gets rid of his family control is still unable to act according to his own will.

As part of the series the HKFA will also hold eight seminars and screen eight reference films to enhance the audience’s understanding of the atmosphere of the pre- and post-war productions, bringing about new dimensions in their cinematic experience. The seminars will be conducted in Cantonese by speakers including the programmer and researcher of the HKFA, scholars, film critics and researchers.

The reference films are Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925), Ernst Lubitsch’s classic silent film with live music accompaniment centring on an intricate emotional entanglement; The Legend of Lee Heung Kwan (1990), starring towering figures of Cantonese opera Hung Sin Nui and Law Ka-bo; Blood-stained Azaleas (1951), with Pak Yin playing a ruthless manipulator; Leave Her to Heaven (1945), a hybrid of Hollywood film noir, populist romance and family drama; The Sisters’ Tragic Love (1953), telling of two sisters falling in love with the same man; Children of Paradise (1945), following the love affairs between a leading theatre actress and the four men who love her in 19th century Paris; The Birth of Stone Child (1962), showcasing the acrobatic prowess of Cantonese opera masters Lam Kar-sing, Fung Wong Nui and Lan Chi Pak; and Blonde Venus (1932), featuring the bold and avant-garde Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich.

Leave Her to Heaven and Blonde Venus are in English, Children of Paradise is in French, and all of the other films are in Cantonese. Lady Windermere’s Fan, Blonde Venus and Children of Paradise have English subtitles; Leave Her to Heaven, Return of the Swallows and A Poor Lover’s Tears have Chinese and English subtitles; and the other films are without subtitles.

Early Cinematic Treasures Rediscovered 3
Date: 11 February – 1 April, 2017
Venue: HK Film Archive
Tickets: $45 from Urbtix