In the Show – 30th March 2010

Wang Jingwei was a politician who was initially known as a hero, but whose name became synonymous with being a traitor. But as well as being a politician, he was an accomplished calligrapher and poet, and even many of those who question his political morality see value in his art. This weekend, at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre, you can see examples, as auction house Sotheby’s presents ‘Calligraphy Works from Prominent Figures of Wang Jingwei’s “Puppet Government”.

Thanks to the cost of land, the profit-motive of developers, and far too many people, many of us in Hong Kong find ourselves living and working in what are, basically, boxes. American photographer Lois Conner has been photographing China for 25 years. In a new exhibition at the Hanart Gallery, with images from the United States, Hong Kong, and Beijing, she focuses on the office spaces in which many of us spend much of our waking lives.

Roald Dahl’s children’s novel “Fantastic Mr Fox” was published in 1970. It’s the story of a fox, now married, whose inability to give up his former wild ways – biting the heads off chickens – leads to three villainous farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean trying to starve his family, and other animals, out of their homes. . Now there’s a stop-motion animated film of the book by Wes Anderson, the director of “Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore” and “The Darjeeling Limited” among others. The story was aimed at children under ten. Wes Anderson is known for his quirky, sometimes precious, humour and his offbeat take on adult relationships and family dynamics. So do the two work together? Reviewer Gary Pollard tells us more.

With a population of more than 250,000, Bergen is Norway’s second largest city. It is also the birthplace of Erlend Oye and Eirik Glambek, who together are Kings of Convenience. The duo, who met in school, released their debut album, “Quiet is the New Loud” in 2001. Last week, they talked to The Works before their Hong Kong show.

Please click here for streaming video

In the Show – 23rd March 2010

On Friday and Saturday the Hong Kong Arts Festival presented the work of a Chinese musician who has made a name for herself with international lovers of new music. She mixes traditional themes with electronica and samples. Her name is Sa Ding Ding. Blending Chinese folk influences and electronica, Sa Dingding sings in Putonghua, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Langu and a self created language.

“The Last Station” is a film about the final year in the life of the writer Tolstoy. We know him best as the writer of “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”. Towards the end of his life, as his writing turned increasingly to religious and philosophical matters, he was better known in Russia as a spiritual figure. In 1910, Tolstoy was surrounded by hangers-on and by the paparazzi of his time. He even had his own sect of followers called the Tolstoyans. People hung on his every word, and wrote many of them down. “The Last Station”, based on many of those journals and memories, is about the struggle over who would define his legacy. Gary Pollard tells us more.

Mainland Chinese writer Su Tong – many will know him best through the movie adaptation “Raise the Red Lantern” – talks to us about his new book “The Boat to Redemption”.

And in our studio, we have a performance from two members of the three man band “Poubelle International”, all about the end of an affair in London.

Please click here for streaming video

In the Show – 16th March 2010

For movie buffs, Steven Berkoff is best known as a villain. He’s threatened and intimidated the good guys in Octopussy, Beverly Hills Cop, and Rambo: First Blood Part II, among others. For drama aficionados though, he’s better known for the role he’s played in English theatre since the 1960s. The actor, playwright and director is one of the earliest practitioners, and one of the foremost champions, of physical theatre, which emphasizes physical expression and body language to tell the story. This week he’s in Hong Kong, as director of, and performer in, “On the Waterfront”.

Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” was published in 1818. In it, scientist Victor Frankenstein takes on himself the power of the Gods, creating a creature in man’s image. But the creature, isolated and craving love, becomes a monster. Almost 200 years later, and after numerous adaptations of “Frankenstein” into film and drama, the Chung Ying Theatre Group is bringing it to the Hong Kong stage for the first time.

The combination of Tim Burton and “Alice in Wonderland” seemed perfect. Unfortunately, in the eyes of our reviewer Gary Pollard, the new Disney film just uses Lewis Carroll’s characters in a story that has nothing to do with Alice whatsoever. She’s even become a nineteen year old.

Lao She was born in 1899. He died in 1966, an apparent victim of the Cultural Revolution, found drowned in a Taiping Lake, after a “struggle” session. In his writing and life he had been a firm believer in the socialist ideal. Lao wrote around fifty plays, as well as dramas and short stories. The play “Teahouse”, published in 1957, is considered one of the most significant in 20th century Chinese theatre. Many of his novels have also been adapted to stage and film. Premiered in Hong Kong last week, “Five Acts of Life” is the first attempt to bring any of his numerous short stories to the stage. It’s directed by prominent Chinese theatre director, Lin Zhaohua.

Click here for streaming video of the show.

In the Show – March 9th 2010

An hour after this week’s edition of The Works goes on air, renowned countertenor Andreas Scholl and lutenist Edin Karamazov will take to the stage in City Hall to perform: “Airs and Fancies. A Musicall Banquet.” They arrived in Hong Kong just yesterday afternoon, and after hardly taking a breath, sat down to talk to The Works.

From music of the past, we move to “New Vision; New Colours” That’s the title of an exhibition at the Museum of Art until 25th April. The exhibition features artworks from the museum’s permanent collection as well as others specially commissioned for the show. Its theme is the environment of Hong Kong.

In our film review, as the Academy Awards were announced just a day before we air, we sit down with reviewer Gary Pollard and talk about this year’s Oscar movies.

In 1999, filmmaker Wim Wenders and musician Ry Cooder reminded the world of the popular music legacy of Cuba, with the movie and the documentary of the “Buena Vista Social Club”. More recently, Brazilian film director Walter Salles, and Argentinean composer composer Gustavo Santaolalla decided that it was time to do a similar thing for another group of veteran musicians. This time the music, and the dance, were tango. We visit the “Cafe de Los Maestros”.

Click here for streaming video of the show. 

In the Show – March 2nd 2010

Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas founded “Playback Theatre” in New York State in 1975. It’s a form of drama, a technique for social work and social empowerment, and has even been used in workplace training to develop management and communication skills and diversity awareness. And it’s becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong.

The Ming Dynasty writer Tang Xianzu was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. His “The Purple Hairpin”, one of four plays known as “The Four Dreams”, was adapted into a Cantonese opera by Tong Tik-sang in the 1950s. It’s a traditional love story, about Fok Siu-yuk and Lee Yik, and the part the hairpin of the title plays in their romance. Now, with “The Liaisons”, stage director Fredric Mao has reimagined it as a contemporary office romance that’s intercut with the traditional characters.

Also part of the festival is Hong Kong-born and London-based pianist Wong Chi-yan. On Friday, he’ll be playing a recital of music that includes Liszt and Haydn. Tonight, he’s in our studio to give us a preview.

Please click here for streaming video preview.