I Hate Hamlet!

To be or not to be – that is the question facing celebrity TV actor Andrew Rally (Hamish Campbell). To be Hamlet in a prestigious production in New York’s Central Park, or not to be Hamlet and stick to what he knows best – phone-it-in acting on a cheesy but popular TV show.

His girlfriend (Kate Mulligan) and his agent (Kath O’Connor) want him to take the role; his Hollywood buddy (Mike Pizzuto) and real-estate agent (Jane Archibald) do not. As for Andrew, he’s just not sure he’s capable of the Bard. Plus he’s seriously worried about the slings and arrows of outraged critics!

Enter the ghost of John Barrymore (Neville Sarony), dressed in high Shakespearean garb and determined to help Andrew fulfill his actor’s destiny. What a piece of work is Barrymore! Noble in reason and infinite in faculty, and yet Andrew remains suspicious that Barrymore may smile and smile and be a villain.

Playwright Paul Rudnick had the idea for I Hate Hamlet! when he lived in John Barrymore’s apartment in New York in the late 1980s. This Hong Kong Players production is directed by Jodi Gilchrist.

So, what’s a man to do? It’s said that all the world’s a stage and each must play his part… the question is, which part?

Cast
Andrew Rally – Hamish Campbell
John Barrymore – Neville Sarony
Deirdre McDavey – Kate Mulligan
Lillian Troy – Kath O’Connor
Felicia Dantine – Jane Archibald
Gary Lefkowitz – Mike Pizzuto

Director: Jodi Gilchrist
Assistant Director: Sarah Kidd

I Hate Hamlet!
Hong Kong Players
Date: 1-4 March, 2017
Venue: Fringe Club, Fringe Underground
Tickets: $280 from www.art-mate.net

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Blair Reeve: Author and Peel Street Poet

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New Zealander Blair Reeve has been writing and performing a rhythmic and comical style of performance poetry since 1995. He spent the first seven years of the new millennium teaching English in Japanese junior high schools before moving to Hong Kong where he continued to teach phonics to primary students until 2013. He graduated from Massey University (NZ) in 2012 after studying Japanese and English Literature and then turned his attention to more sustained creative writing by joining the City University of Hong Kong’s Masters in Fine Arts program. He completed this in 2014, and one year later published his first children’s book Hogart The Hedgehog Turns Nink. In September 2016 he published his second book for young readers, Greta von Gerbil & Her Really Large Lexicon. Currently he works from home, caring for his infant daughter and mentoring post-grad students at Chinese U for their portfolios in creative writing. He was a feature author in the Hong Kong Young Readers’ Literary Festival in March 2016 and will be performing at the upcoming TEDxWanChai event on October 29.

How long have you been involved in poetry?
I’ve been involved in poetry since I was a kid in the 70s. First as a reader of comic verse—things like Spike Milligan, limericks & nonsense verse. In high school I really took to analyzing poetry, but I didn’t start writing until I was about 20. I was a pretender of anguished verse, which came from being one of those dyed-in-the-wool Cure fans. I then took up writing poetry as something to be read aloud and performed. This transition from pretender to writer/performer happened around 1996.

What inspires you to write?
My inspiration comes entirely from other poets and poetry. When I see writing I like it makes me want to write better. Hence my early poems were all like bad Goth lyrics. Then I was inspired by other performer-poets during my Dunedin days of the 90s and some of the old Victorian stuff I read at that time, especially Gerard Manly Hopkins who had a really playful word thing going on. Dr. Seuss continues to be an inspiration when I read to my daughter and that led me to wanting to write comical anapestic rhyming verse. This is so much fun I’m sticking with it for the time being.

How does Hong Kong influence your writing?
Hong Kong influences my writing in an indirect way. My social scene is miscellaneous and so it frees me to be as experimental as I like. It also means the cultural inputs into my writing are diverse, and I like that. I like that my poetry is informed by so many different perspectives. But my writing tends to be interior and imaginative rather than worldly, and in that sense, Hong Kong as a direct subject has yet to make it into my writing.

Here’s an extract from Blair’s new children’s book.

Flaytoo the Friendly Mayfly (extract)
Said Phlooty the Mayfly to Flaytoo his boy,
“You’re four hours old now, you’ve played with that toy
since the moment your mother gave birth to you son.
You’ve only got twenty more hours to have fun,
so don’t hesitate, Flayt, get out in the sun.”

We’re fish food, young chap, and that’s perfectly fine.
I’ve nothing against fish who do need to dine,
but there’s no need to hurry yourself to their plate.
Your time here is precious. Their stomachs can wait.
So listen up kiddo, go fly to the ends
of the field and make lots of new wonderful friends.
Because mayflies like us—we don’t live very long.
We’ve only one day till the end of our song.”

Then Phlooty the Mayfly unflicked his four wings,
and left Flaytoo flying alone without strings.

Say what?” exclaimed Flaytoo, “I’ve only one day?
That barely leaves time for a Mayfly to play!
Well I certainly mustn’tly waste my time ruing
those four hours gone when I ought to be doing
what Phlooty suggested—travelling and seeing
how other flies spend their lives living and being.”

Peel Street Poetry is an open mic poetry night at Orange Peel. It runs every Wednesday of the month except the first. The environment is friendly and they love new performers, so come share your poetry or just listen along to some of Hong Kong’s sharpest poetic talents.

Peel Street Poetry Open Mic
Date: 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and 5th) Wednesdays of the month
Venue: Orange Peel
Tickets: Free
More info:
www.peelstreetpoetry.com

Edited: 1 November 2016 – extract amended, last line was missing

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What are The Colours of Humanity?

white-room-1

What are The Colours of Humanity? This is the intriguing question posed by the International Black Box Festival 2016 (ibb2016) which aspires that audiences immerse themselves in different artistic realms to discover the many colours of humanity. Organised by the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre the festival runs from 15 October to 20 November and features productions encompassing a wide range of styles each presenting a different approach to the dramatic text.

HK Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director Anthony Chan commented, “These six highly anticipated productions are all stylistically unique. We live in an age of complicated emotions and relationships that affect not only the nature of human connection but also our thinking beyond national boundaries. We aim to provide our audience with a wide vista where imagination and creativity roam free among the many facets of our collective, civilized spirit.”

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The curator of ibb2016 Fung Wai Hang explains this year’s focus. “For the inaugural Black Box Festival we chose the theme of ‘body and movement’, while this year we focus on the ‘dramatic text’. In recent years, different approaches to the dramatic text have surfaced. We hope to establish a platform for international exchange, so that our local theatre professionals and enthusiasts can enjoy an enriching encounter with visiting artists through workshops and lectures.”

International Black Box Festival 2016 Programme

La Voix Humaine – Toneelgroep Amsterdam (Netherlands)
15-17 April, 2016 @ HK City Hall, Theatre
During an hour-long performance, a woman is trapped inside a box-like room, holding onto the receiver talking to her ex-lover. For the entire hour, the audience watches her in this emotional roller-coaster ride, becoming de facto “peeping toms”. La voix humaine was written by Jean Cocteau and directed by 2016 Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove. (Note this production took place in April).

Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Performer Studio (Hong Kong)
15-23 October @ HKRep Black Box
A classic work by the founding father of Singapore theatre Kuo Pao-kun, this play addresses power politics as well as castration, depicting Zheng He’s seven ocean voyages as well as the eunuch admiral’s physical and psychological challenges. It provides a parable on the pressures of modern life, where people are left with little choice: either self-castration or being castrated by others. Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral was written by Kuo Pao-kun, adapted and directed by Tony Wong.

the-9-fridas-photo-1

The 9 Fridas – Möbius Strip Theatre (Wales, Taiwan, Hong Kong)
27-30 October @ HKRep Black Box
The 9 fridas is a mosaic combining a patchwork of impressions and stories depicting the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), with characters and their stories echoing the real life of Kahlo herself. The 9 fridas was written by Kaite O’Reilly and directed by Phillip Zarrilli, renowned for his psychophysical acting method.

Asagao – Bkyuyugekitai (Japan)
3-6 November @ HKRep Black Box
Asagao was created especially for the International Black Box Festival by Shed Skin playwright Tsukuda Norihiko, who not only wrote the script but also appears in the production. The story takes place after a husband returns after a six-month stint working away from home to discover a deserted house where morning glory vines have overtaken the walls and even the ceiling. Where is his wife? The story crosses time and space incorporating absurdist elements, humour and irony, at the same time; it is tinged with a sense of helplessness. Asagao is directed by Kamiya Shogo.

White Room – White Room Research Collective (Japan, Hong Kong)
10-13 November @ HKRep Black Box
Created and directed by Waguri Yukio, disciple of Butoh founder Hijikata Tatsumi and principal dancer of Asbestos-kan, White Room combines butoh and text in expressing the hearts and desire of seven patients. Written and directed by Waguri Yukio.

before-after-3

Before After – Creative VaQi (South Korea)
17-20 November @ HKRep Black Box
Divided into sections based on time, Before After shows the changes that occur before and after a devastating event. A time before and after is created after a tragic, irreversible event. What experiences do we go through that make us realise that an event has affected ‘our’ lives? What happens as a point in ‘my’ time on stage suddenly meets ‘yours’ space. Before After is a collective work directed by Kyung-sung Lee.

The International Black Box Festival 2016 also includes workshops, talks and a symposium hosted by artists from around the world. Speakers at these events include Theatre du pif’s Artistic Director Bonni Chan, Japanese butoh master Waguri Yukio, Professor Winton Au, Professor Chiu Chui-de, Kaite O’Reilly, Tony Wong, Tsukuda Norihiko and Kyung-sung Lee. For more information on workshops, talks and symposium visit the festival’s website www.hkrep.com/ibb2016.

white-room-2

International Black Box Festival 2016
Date: 15 October – 20 November, 2016
Venue: HK Rep Black Box Theatre
Tickets: $280 from Urbtix

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: 10-12 June 2016

Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang-2016

A fantastic musical adventure about an out-of-this-world car that flies through the air and sails the seas. Face Productions’ summer show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the musical, based on the 1968 film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book, and featuring an unforgettable score by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins) is one adventure that audiences will find Truly Scrumptious.

An eccentric inventor, Caractacus Potts finds an old race car on a scrap heap and sets about restoring it with the help of his children Jeremy and Jemima. They soon discover the car has magical properties including the ability to float and fly. Trouble occurs when the evil Baron Bomburst desires the magic car for himself. The family joins forces with Truly Scrumptious and Grandpa Potts to outwit the dastardly Baron and Baroness and their villainous henchman, the Child Catcher in the mysterious land of Vulgaria.

Filled with unforgettable songs, including the Academy Award nominated title song, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a high-flying fun-filled adventure that first opened in London’s West End in 2002 and was the longest-ever running show at the London Palladium. The Face Productions show is directed by Candice Caalsen, who headed last year’s award-winning Legally Blonde.

In addition to the full version, Face Academy offers an abridged interpretation to showcase younger performing arts talents in Hong Kong.

Cast
Caractacus Pott  –  Samuel J Craig
Jenny Potts  –  Charlotte Blyth
Jemima Potts  –  Jorja Townson
Grandpa Potts  –  Terry Hart
Truly Scrumptious  –  Michelle Edwards
Lord Scrumptious /Baron Bomburst  –  Angus Scott
Baroness Bomburst  –  Moe Moss
Toymaker /Ensemble  –  Kirill Voloshin
The Childcatcher /Ensemble  –  Barry O’Rouke
Boris  –  Conor O’Grady
Goran  –  Jade Elizabeth du Toit

Production Team
Director: Candice Caalsen
Assistant Director: Conor O’Grady
Choreographer: Claire Johnson
Musical Director: Enrico Narvaez
Vocal Director:Jessica Peralta
Producer: Kenix Ho

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Date: 10-12 June, 2016
Venue: HKAPA, Drama Theatre
Tickets: $395 from HKTicketing
More info:
10-12 June – 7:30pm
12 June – 3pm

By Face Academy
11-12 June – 11am
11 June 3pm
$275

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Kennedy – World Premiere

Kennedy - 2016

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-harrisAdam 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.

Kennedy
Date: 8pm, 17-19 March, 2016
Venue: HK Arts Centre, McAulay Studio
Tickets: $200/$180 from Urbtix

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India by the Bay

india-by-the-bay-2016

India by the Bay returns from the 25 February – 1 March with a range of events that look to bring India’s cultural dynamism to Hong Kong. There’s a mix of classical and contemporary including music, theatre, dance, food, film and literature as the festival reflects India’s artistic depth and diversity. According to the organisers the India by the Bay aims to celebrate the common cultural strands shared by Hong Kong and India and their multi-ethnic populace.

India by the Bay – 24 February to 1 March 2016

24 February – Festival Opening

7:15pm, 25 February – Film – Sharmila Tagore at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Indian film actress Sharmila Tagore in conversation with Festival Director Sanjoy Roy.

7:15pm, 26 February – Literature – Shobha De at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Best- selling author of 18 books and widely-read columnist Shobhaa De in conversation with Sanjoy Roy.

6:45pm, 27 February – Music – Rajasthan Josh at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
World music band which combine the folk traditions of the North Western region of India with vocal styles ranging from mystic Sufi traditions, bhajans to the popular folk songs of Rajasthan.

12:30pm, 27 February – Lunch – Karen Anand at Ovolo Southside Hotel

6:45pm, 28 February – Dance – Nityagram at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble are one of the foremost dance companies in India. Although steeped in and dedicated to ancient techniques, the Nrityagram dancers also look to carry Indian dance into the twenty-first century.

7:15pm, 29 February – Theatre – C Sharp C Blunt at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
C Sharp C Blunt is based on the concept of the loop. An electronic musician, live on stage creates and layers loops from live sound. The loop in its nature reflects the training of the singer through endless repetition and also the process of cultural and social programming. This cultural programming also defines the specific way girls and women are supposed to behave.
The play looks at traditional gender roles as engrained by culture versus the woman as the globalised consumer living in a new market that caters to her wants and needs. We look at the performer as a site of battle between purity and consumption, between servitude and ego, between being-looked-at-ness and self-determination.

7pm, 1 March – Buddhist Day – Shantum Seth at Ovolo Southside Hotel

Tickets for all events are available at www.indiabythebay.com

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Kennedy

stylus - Kennedy - 2016

Written by the award-winning Spanish poet José Manuel Sevilla who penned the Hong Kong 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.

This Stylus Productions staging of Kennedy is the world premiere of Sevilla’s latest work.

José Manuel Sevilla is a Barcelona born poet living in Hong Kong who has published several volumes of poetry including From the Limits of Paradise (1991), Contiguous Traject (1993), Alicia in Ikea’s Catalogue (2004) and Ashes of Auschwitz and Eighteen Dogs (2009). He founded ‘Poets against AIDS’ in Spain and, while living in Mexico, Sevilla started the photograph collection Street Language, which was exhibited at the Fringe Club in 2004.

Stylus Productions was founded in 2006 by Adam Harris; their previous shows include The Rocky Horror Show (2006 & 2010), the world premiere in English of The Bridge (2011, also by the award-winning Spanish poet José Manuel Sevilla), Macbeth (2014), Chimes of Freedom (2009) and last year’s Medea.

WARNING: This show includes adult language and themes.

Kennedy
Date: 8pm, 17-19 March, 2016
Venue: HK Arts Centre, McAulay Studio
Tickets: $200/$180 from Urbtix

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Into the Woods

Into-the-Woods-poster

Stephen Sondheim’s epic musical Into the Woods brings together many of the Grimm brothers’ best known fairytales including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. Framed by a moving story about a childless couple who long to have a family of their own. With a challenging and captivating score, dark comedy and physical theatre, Face Productions brings an exciting new edge to this classic Broadway and West End musical.

When the baker and his wife are cursed to be childless by the witch from next door, the only way to break her spell is to venture into the woods to find four mysterious ingredients. With a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold, they must create a potion to appease the Witch and restore her former beauty. On their way, they cross paths with familiar characters: each with a wish of their own. Who will make it out of the woods alive? And will we find truth in the old adage of happily ever after?

Into the Woods opened on Broadway in November 1987 to massive critical acclaim winning several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical. While Disney’s 2014 film adaptation, directed by Rob Marshall and featuring an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, and Anna Kendrick, earned US$212 million worldwide, as well as three Academy Award nominations and three Golden Globe nominations.

Into-the-Woods

Face Productions – whose recent productions include Hairspray (2013), Footloose (2014), and Legally Blonde (2015) – revival has Conor O’Grady at the Director’s helm, with Roy Rolloda and Jessica Peralta as the Baker and Baker’s Wife respectively, Candice Caalsen as the Witch, and Sophie Connell as Little Red Riding Hood. Choreographed by Claire Johnson, with Enrico Narvaez as Musical Director, the show features many professional and veteran performers, a live band, and some of the highest calibre community theatre performers in Hong Kong.

Cast
Baker: Roy Rolloda
Baker’s Wife: Jessica Peralta
Witch: Candice Caalsen
Little Red Riding Hood: Sophie Connell

Director: Conor O’Grady
Choreographer: Claire Johnson
Musical Director: Enrico Narvaez

Into the Woods
Date: 4-7 February, 2016
Venue: HK City Hall, Theatre
Tickets: $395 from Urbtix
More info:
4-6 February – 8pm
7 February – 7:30pm

Into the Woods Junior
Face Academy: $275
6–7 February – 10.30am and 2.30pm
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