Among the highlights of this year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival are a series of works by a drama director who wants to take theatre to new and challenging places.
For Brighton-based theatre-maker Tim Crouch, theatre is primarily about transformation, a willing agreement between audience and players that the actor becomes the character. This year he is bringing three plays to the Hong Kong Arts Festival: “An Oak Tree”, “My Arm” and “England”. “An Oak Tree” is about the loss of a child. The child’s father is played by an actor who has never seen the script before, without rehearsal, and regardless of gender. In Hong Kong, three different people are taking on the role at three different performances.
“Male or female, actor and actress, they all play the same character,” says Crouch. “It is more interesting to the audience that the actor doesn’t look like the character, because the audience will transform that actor into the character, the play will make that transformation happen.” In “England” Crouch is transforming an art gallery into a theatrical space.
Turning to movies, no fewer than four of the actors in John Patrick Shanley’s film “Doubt” have been nominated for Academy Awards this year. It’s based on his play “Doubt: A Parable”, which was, in 2005, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for Best Play. “Doubt” is set in 1964 in a school called “St. Nicholas in the Bronx”. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the charismatic priest, Father Flynn who wants to instill a sense of warmth into an environment ruled by the rod. In this, he’s implacably opposed by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) who soon comes to believe he has a less than healthy interest in one of the schoolchildren. Our reviewer Gary Pollard tells us it doesn’t manage to escape its theatrical origins.
Over the weekend, Hong Kong music lovers had the opportunity to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Composer Igor Stravinsky called its sound: “The most precise and flexible in the world”. In its Hong Kong programme the orchestra played Mozart, Mahler, and Richard Strauss under the baton of veteran conductor Bernard Haitink. The three-week five city Asia tour is a long celebration not only of the its 35th anniversary but also of Haitink’s 80th birthday. Haitink, who became the orchestra’s principal conductor in 2006, talked to us about the tour, and why he’s looking forward to visiting Shanghai.
From the orchestra to a solo instrument. Also part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, on 20th February, is a concert by local harpist Teresa Suen. Her programme will open with 19th-century French pieces composed in the romantic style most associated with the harp. But to show both her own, and the instrument’s flexibility, she’ll go on to the more percussive 20th century sounds of composers such as Carlos Salzedo and Paul Hindemith. We talked to her.
To see a streaming video of the show, please click here.