It’s not often we have the World Premiere of a stage show in Hong Kong, especially one that is written and produced in English by HongKongers. But that’s what you’ll be able to see this week at the HK Arts Centre as José Manuel Sevilla’s new play Kennedy has it’s World Premiere under the production and direction of Adam Harris.
Written by the award-winning Spanish poet José Manuel Sevilla who penned the local production of The Bridge in 2011, Kennedy is a noirish tale of loss and redemption set in late 20th Century Barcelona. Recently released from prison, Kennedy seeks his sister, Beatriz. Both escape from the reality of their lives into philosophical flights of fancy that keep the shadows at bay.
bc spoke to José Manuel Sevilla and Adam Harris about Kennedy which has as Adam puts it “Strong strong adult themes, language” and nudity” not Harris hastens to add his…
José Manuel Sevilla – Playwright
How do u feel when the world premiere of a show approaches?
Nervous but déjà vu type nervous; back to the pure, simple excitement of the first things in life – rejuvenating.
Are you very hands off once you find a producer, or do you like to be involved in the production?
Totally hands off, I want to be in both sides and feel like both a creator and the public, it is part of the excitement.
Do you feel your works are open to wide interpretation, or do you have a very fixed idea in your mind as to how the work should look on stage?
When I write I actually transcript on a paper a play that is represented in my head, that is already an interpretation. Directors and actors take my words and put them in their lips, they give them sound and thought and gesture: all acts of living are a sort of interpretation.
Of the various stage interpretations of your works, which have you enjoyed most and which have you gone wow didn’t see it that way?
What I enjoy most is precisely when I go wow didn’t see it that way, that’s is the origin of learning. I may disagree but it’s still learning.
Do you enjoy watching your words live on stage?
Even more than the words, my biggest joy is the “room” that is created on the stage, the complicities that invite me to enter a special place and time that lives for 90 minutes, the faces, the movements, the feelings. I know the words already, I want to be surprised by the unique silent movie around them just with a simple ticket.
Adam Harris – Director
Did you approach José or did he approach you about staging Kennedy?
José approached me following my staging of his play The Bridge in 2011. The working relationship was established back then.
What attracted you to staging Kennedy?
On first reading it, did you ‘see it’ visually take shape in your mind? I do enjoy walks on the dark side – and this is a play that may be called “heavy” in popular parlance. A look at my recent productions – Macbeth, Medea and Frozen for example – testify to this. However, Kennedy has an element of ethereal, dream-like beauty to it. It is a play in which light and shade are balanced. When first reading it, yes, certain images suggested themselves, some of which stuck.
Any pressure from the author to stage the show as he envisioned it?
Absolutely none. As with The Bridge, José gave me the script and said “do what you will with it”. He is very particular about not being involved in the process of turning a script into a performance.
How do you feel about staging a World Premiere?
It is exciting to know that this is a new thing, an entirely new thing. A sense of responsibility of course, like that felt by a midwife bringing a life into the world.
Are there any differences in preparing and creating a show that’s never been performed before?
You are freed of prior conceptions in the audience’s minds about how the play should be. This is quite empowering. On the box office front, regrettably an unknown play can expect to do less well. People in Hong Kong are so busy that the name Coward, Wilde or Albee may catch their eye. New work is less supported in Hong Kong than in should be.
Date: 8pm, 17-19 March, 2016
Venue: HK Arts Centre, McAulay Studio
Tickets: $200/$180 from Urbtix