The West Kowloon Cultural District Xiqu Centre will launch its very first “Experimental Chinese Opera Series” from 6 to 13 September at HKRep Black Box. Four Chinese opera pieces, namely the newly-adapted “Farewell My Concubine”, “Kong Yiji” and “Chun Shuidu,” and “Zhu Wen” (The Only Extant Version) will be staged. Interested parties can purchase their tickets via URBTIX now. 

Kicking off the “Experimental Chinese Opera Series” will be a new adaptation of the classic “Farewell My Concubine” produced by a local theatre. The prologue of this performance starts off with traditional vocal technique in Mandarin while modern elements such as Cantonese singing and newly produced ditties are be blended in, helping new audience immerse and appreciate this traditional art form. The contemporary adaptation is also noticeable from the stage design where the plain and modest “one-table-and-two-chairs” setup has been enhanced by modern theatre elements such as background music and lighting effects.

Produced by the Experimental Theatre of Liyuan Opera of Fujian, the second play is a Liyuan Opera titled “Zhu Wen” (The Only Extant Version). Tradition Liyuan Opera originated in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and can be categorised into three stylistic schools, Shanglu, Xianan and Xiaoliyuan. Of these, of Shanglu plays mainly focus on themes of loyalty or filial piety. The plot of “Zhu Wen” is complicated and eccentric, following the adventures of Zhu Wen after he takes a room at an inn. This play is recognised as a masterpiece of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, possessing high cultural value and preserving an important part of Nanxi heritage. The troupe has recomposed the classic to give traditional Chinese Opera a brand new style while retaining some Shanglu elements.

The Experimental Huaiju Theatre piece, “Kong Yiji”, reimagines Lu Xun’s classic short story of the same name. A highlight of the production is the experimental vocal style used by the troupe, which combines the elegant delivery of Huaiju with the regional inflections of Peking opera dialects. This highly exploratory and experimental play has attained the 2016 Tian Han Drama Award of the "All China Experimental Theatre Projects", "Best Screenplay", "Best Director " and "Best Performance " and many more.

The finale of the series, the Peking Opera and Kunqu fusion “Chun Shuidu” (New Adaptation), is an intimate production of one of the best-loved titles in the repertory of Chinese traditional theatre, “The Legend of the White Snake”. The troupe takes an unusual perspective by focusing solely on Monk Fahai’s encounter with Xu Xian in the famous folktale. Aiming at refreshing the traditional Chinese Opera form, Fahai is presented in the role of the laosheng of Peking opera, whereas Xu Xian is presented as the xiaosheng of Kunqu opera. The conversations between Fahai and Xu Xian examine the conflict between “being persuaded” and “not being persuaded” while at the same time exploring the characters’ hidden psychological depths.

Commenting on the experimental series, Louis Yu, Executive Director of Performing Arts of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) said, “The West Kowloon Cultural District Xiqu Centre is firmly committed to the development of Chinese Opera. A Letter of Intent has been signed between WKCDA and the Shanghai Centre of Chinese Operas in 2016 to encourage artists from various regions to explore the development of opera and theatre together. Experimental Chinese Opera Series is where these artists start to explore and evolve. By introducing new adaptations of Chinese Opera, we connect classics with the modern practice, combine the ancient elegance with contemporary popular culture and strike a balance between heritage and stainable development.  At the same time, these new initiatives promise to revitalise Chinese Opera and demonstrates the malleability and revolutionary nature of this art form.”

Programme details are available from the website:
www.westkowloon.hk/experimentalseries

West Kowloon Cultural District and the Xiqu Centre

The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the world’s largest cultural developments. Its vision is to create a vibrant cultural quarter for Hong Kong, a vital platform for the local arts scene to interact, develop and collaborate, with major facilities to host and produce world-class exhibitions, performances and arts and cultural events. The Xiqu Centre, set to open in 2018, is one of the district’s major venues. Specifically built for performances of Chinese traditional theatre, it will also provide a centre for the production, education and research of this unique art form.

Annex

Experimental Chinese Opera Series

Venue:
Hk Rep Black Box (8/F Sheung Wan Civic Centre, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong)

Tickets:
Standard Tickets – $180 per show
Concessions – $90 per show (People with disabilities and their accompanying minders and CSSA recipients)
HK Rep Pals – $162 per show
(Patrons can enjoy one of the discount schemes only.)

Booking Details:
Online- www.urbtix.hk
Telephone – 2111 5999
Mobile App – “My URBTIX” (Android& iPhone/iPad)

Enquiries:
Programme enquiries - 2200 0709 (Mon to Fri 10am – 6pm)
Ticketing enquiries - 3761 6661 (10am – 8pm Daily)

Programme Schedule:

Date

Time

Show

Actors

6-7 Sept, 2017

7:45 pm

Experimental Cantonese Opera “Farewell My Concubine” (New Adaptation)

Produced by the West Kowloon Xiqu Centre

Lai Yiuwai (Xiang Yu)

Janet Wong (Consort Yu)

Ng Laphei (stable boy, soldier)

9 Sept, 2017

Liyuan Opera “Zhu Wen” (The Only Extant Version)

Produced by the Experimental Theatre of Liyuan Opera of Fujian

Zhang Chunji (Zhu Wen)

Zheng Yasi (Yi Li Jin)

Lin Fufu (Wang Hang Shou)

Wu Youqing (Wong’s wife)

10 Sept, 2017

Experimental Huaiju Theatre “Kong Yiji” (New Adaptation)

Produced by the Shanghai Huaiju Troupe

Gao Ting (Kong Yiji)

Wang Xiaotao (scholar Ding)

Wang Dandan (Mama Wang)

Qian Wei (Xiao Meng Die)

12-13 Sept, 2017

Peking Opera and Kunqu Fusion “Chun Shuidu” (New Adaptation)

Commissioned by The Shanghai Center of Chinese Operas

Wang Peiyu (Fahai)

Hu Weilu (Xu Xian)