Honour the Past, Innovate for the Future
Driven by its commitment to the preservation and innovation of Chinese opera, the Black Box Chinese Opera Festival is now entering its fifth year. While the Covid pandemic is still wreaking havoc around the world, the performance arts sector has been showing encouraging signs of recovery, thanks to the perseverance and creativity of our dedicated industry professionals. We are honoured to have Friends of Hong Kong Association as the title sponsor of this year’s festival, which will present two new original experimental Cantonese opera productions: The Asura Judgement and The Imperial Decree (Preview).
A great friend of the Xiqu Centre, Law Ka-ying is one of the most celebrated Cantonese opera performers living today. In recent years, he has been working on a series of adaptation projects, bringing world classics to the Chinese opera stage. Last year, he adapted Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon into an epic three-hour Cantonese opera titled The Asura Judgement. Driven by a tireless pursuit of artistic excellence and innovation, he continued to rework the script afterwards. I had the pleasure of working with him to condense the original work into an experimental solo version. In addition to writing and directing, Law stars in the production and takes on multiple roles in a virtuosic solo performance. As the co-director, I took charge of the set, lighting and sound designs, as well as the multimedia elements. The final product is a transcendental multimedia contemplation on the nature of truth and humanity.
Meanwhile, The Imperial Decree (Preview) is the new offering from the team behind the Xiqu Centre’s first-ever commissioned work Farewell My Concubine (New Adaptation), led by Keith Lai, Janet Wong and myself. During the conceptualisation of the project, which was a long time in the making, the three of us were looking for a new way to examine the relationship between fate and freewill: Is there such a thing as predestination, or are we the masters of our own story? In addition, it is also the Xiqu Centre’s first inclusive experimental Cantonese opera production. We hope the previews will give local audiences a chance to enjoy the show first before its official Beijing premiere.
The Black Box Chinese Opera Festival 2022 also welcomes back two award-winning Xiqu Centre original Cantonese opera productions — Farewell My Concubine (New Adaptation) and Wenguang Explores the Valley. This year, they are staged at Hong Kong’s biggest blackbox theatre — The Box at Freespace, offering a brand new experience.
Besides the performances, the festival has also in store a special supplement programme this year. Featuring a series of craft workshops, the Living Heritage Workshop Series is designed to help participants rediscover the wonder of traditional crafts from a contemporary perspective, and to facilitate discussion and dialogue between artists and the audience.
Finally, we want to give sincere thanks to our collaborators and audience — it is only because of your unwavering trust and support that Xiqu Centre is able to continuously create, innovate and present a diverse range of original programmes!
Head of Xiqu, Performing Arts, West Kowloon Cultural District