Mr. Michael Lynch CBE AM, Chief Executive Officer, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects currently underway in the world. With a vision to create a vibrant cultural quarter for Hong Kong and provide a vital platform for the local arts scene to interact, develop and collaborate, the district will include a variety of arts and cultural facilities such as performing arts venues, a museum, public spaces and a park that will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and arts and cultural events.
The Xiqu Centre will be the first performing arts venue to be completed and inaugurated within the West Kowloon Cultural District. It is expected to not only provide impetus for the preservation and development of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, but also be part of the ongoing drive for enlivening Chinese traditional theatre as a whole. The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre, which is now in its third year, may well be regarded as a realisation of the artistic vision of the Xiqu Centre. The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre 2014 will be a spectacular showcase of ten Chinese xiqu genres; it also highlights how Cantonese opera as cultural heritage is being perpetuated, with budding talents given the opportunity to bloom, providing us a glimpse into the artistic direction of the Xiqu Centre in the future.
The West Kowloon project is moving from planning to actualisation at full throttle, beginning with the groundbreaking ceremony of the Xiqu Centre in September 2013, and the finalisation of the design of M+ and the park next year. We shall continue to work closely with the community to turn our visions into reality, and to enrich life in Hong Kong with arts and culture. As we move forward to the new year, we wish you all every success for the Year of the Horse!
Mr. Louis Yu Kwok-lit, Executive Director, Performing Arts, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Bamboo theatre is part of the precious cultural heritage of Hong Kong. From a larger cultural perspective, bamboo theatre carries not only the history, but also the spirit of Chinese xiqu culture. Hong Kong is one of the few places that still retains the tradition of bamboo theatre today. In this regard, there is no other venue that is more fitting for the Xiqu Centre of the West Kowloon Cultural District to use as a platform for experimentation and exploration of the art of xiqu than the bamboo theatre. For the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre 2014, we have not only invited renowned theatre director Mr. Fredric Mao as programme curator, but also have the honour to have a top-notch cast of over thirty leading artists from the Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe of the Chinese Theatre Association. Apart from the specially selected programmes by acclaimed artists, we are also eagerly anticipating the “Rising Stars in Cantonese Opera Showcase” that aims at nurturing new talent. All these endeavors by the Bamboo Theatre illustrate the vision and mission of the future Xiqu Centre - to develop audiences, strive for artistic excellence, and facilitate artistic exchanges for the preservation and development of Cantonese opera and other xiqu genres, with our roots in Hong Kong and eyes on Asia.
Mr. Fredric Mao Chun-fai, Programme Curator of West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre 2014
It is my honour to be invited to join the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre as the programme curator. As the first large-scale performance project initiated by the West Kowloon Cultural District for the Xiqu Centre, the Bamboo Theatre is not only a publicity event that promotes the future Xiqu Centre. Rather, it has to shoulder the responsibility of sustaining our artistic approach and contents for the future, to help us see our way forward and identify approaches that are accepted by the public while exploring themes and performing modes that are worth cultivating. After two years of deve-lopment, the Bamboo Theatre has entered a stage where further expansion and refinement are necessary. Thus, I set the theme of this year’s Bamboo Theatre as “To Salute Xiqu’s Essential Value and its Representation”. I hope this year’s Bamboo Theatre can vitalise and enlighten the xiqu arts of Hong Kong; I also hope that through the growth and accumulation of experiences, the Bamboo Theatre and the future Xiqu Centre can bring together efforts by the local xiqu scene, which will in turn nurture more artists and build a stronger audience base for the art form’s development in Hong Kong.
Dr. Ji Guoping, Standing Vice-chairman of the Chinese Theatre Association and Head of the Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe
Customs like Lunar New Year celebrations, temple market visits and xiqu singing, despite originating in ancient Chinese culture, have been inherited and advocated in the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre of metropolitan Hong Kong. Xiqu, with its long history, depth and diversity, is an art form well loved by many Hong Kong people. The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre fulfills the public’s expectation of aesthetic pleasure during festival celebrations, and plays an active role in linking tradition and modernity, and China and the world, by promulgating traditional Chinese performing arts and xiqu genres that are part of our intangible cultural heritage. Composed of recipients of the Plum Blossom Award, the Plum Blossom Award Art Troup of the Chinese Theatre Association gathers top xiqu performing artists from across the country. Their stunning performances at the Bamboo Theatre this year will surely bring a festive cultural feast for both the festival and the citizens of Hong Kong. I wish the Bamboo Theatre a triumphant success!
Ms. Pei Yanling, Vice-chairman of the Chinese Theatre Association
While Hebei has traditional mat shed theatres, Hong Kong has bamboo theatres. Temporary theatres like these have been important venues for Chinese theatrical performances since ancient times. However, as more and more magnificent and enchanting grand theatres are built, many people have forgotten the primitive theatres or original opera celebrations. I like the authentic, friendly, and lively atmosphere of such theatres, and I am happy to see the tradition being kept alive in a modern city like Hong Kong. We should protect and treasure our cultural heritage despite the changing times, for it grounds us. I hope that the future Xiqu Centre can continue with the work of the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre – through valuing and promoting this traditional art form, we can bring the art of xiqu to the world, and show them the charm and beauty of the art.
Ms. Shen Tiemei, Vice-chairman of the Chinese Theatre Association
Hong Kong has always been perceived as an international commercial centre, so when I saw the promotional video and photographs of the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre for the first time, I was deeply struck - how amazing it is for a city like this to place such an importance on upholding intangible cultural heritage in the midst of rapid economic development. I believe that the forthcoming Xiqu Centre will play a unique role in the contemporary development of Chinese xiqu. For this reason, we at the Chuanju Art Centre in Chongqing would like to maintain a close connection with the Xiqu Centre of West Kowloon Cultural District, and we also look forward to working with the centre in the future, to contribute to the development of Chinese xiqu and keep the art abreast with the times.