Digital Asian Shakespeare Festival: A Preview

The Festival will feature performance screenings, curated watch parties, dialogue sessions with practitioners and video presentations. Watch this space in the coming weeks for a full list of online events and performance screenings. Here is a preview of the featured artists and performance screenings that will be made available during the Congress.

The Tempest, Contemporary Legend Theatre (Taiwan)

Dir. WU Hsing-kuo (Taiwan) and TSUI Hark (Hong Kong)

The Tempest is the brainchild of WU Hsing-kuo, a pioneer in intercultural theatre, and TSUI Hark, a renowned film director, with costume and scene design by Oscar-winning Tim YIP. The play incorporates traditional Chinese theatre (jingju and kunqu) and Taiwan’s aboriginal music and dance. Beneath the marvelous spectacle and enchanting music, the play also explores the issues of identity, patriarchy, colonization, and strong man politics, topics acutely relevant to modern Taiwan and Asia. The play premiered in Taipei in 2004. The video to be screened is the “classic revival” version to be staged in May 2021.

ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION

WU Hsing-kuo (Taiwan)

WU Hsing-kuo is Founding Artistic Director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT), and a multitalented artist across the fields of traditional Chinese theatre, modern theatre, dance, film, and television. Wu reinvigorates xiqu with thematic and aesthetic innovation, and is keen to explore new theatrical forms. Ranging from traditional xiqu titles, original plays, and adaptations of Western classics, his theatre works have frequented international festivals and toured in more than 20 countries. In the Shakespeare circle, Wu is best known for his creation of Macbeth, Lear, and Prospero, and he is currently working on Julius Caesar. Among the honors he has received are Taiwan’s National Award for Arts (2010), the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres-Chevalier (2011), and the Hong Kong Film Award (1996).

The Tragedy of Macbeth, Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio (Hong Kong)

Dir. TANG Shu-wing

A modern couple makes a dream in which they enter into the universe of Macbeth in a buried past of ancient China, assuming the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and encountering the different characters in the play. Upon getting out of the dream where the dark side of humanity is experienced, the couple begins to contemplate their possible place in this contemporary realm of turbulence.

Inspired by the tradition of Asian physical theatre, this version of Macbeth transmits the spirit of the play through a succession of stylised images, where body expression, physical movements and live accompaniment expose the characters' relationship as well as the director's vision of time and space.

KEYNOTE and WATCH PARTY

TANG Shu-wing (Hong Kong)

Theatre director and drama educator Tang is hailed by the media as "one of the most talented theater directors in Hong Kong". After studying Law at the University of Hong Kong, Tang pursued theatre studies at the University of New Sorbonne in Paris. His interest in physical theatre, dance art, visual arts and spiritual practice have led him to a minimalist aesthetics driven by the body. His diverse cultural background and accomplishments give his works a unique blend of tradition and the contemporary. Tang established No Man's Land in 1997 (renamed Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio in 2011). He taught at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from 2004 to 2011 where he served as a lecturer, Head of Directing and Playwriting and Dean of the School of Drama. He has trained many new actors using his superb training methods and rich creativity. In 2014, he set up the Professional Physical Theatre Youth Training Programme, which has become a brand for nurturing young performers. In 2019, Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio was selected by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council as an Eminent Arts Group, confirming its leading position in the industry.

Tang has created more than 50 works, of which the best known, such as Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus 2.0, Macbeth, Detention and Thunderstorm, have been staged in many international arts festivals. His key written work has had a considerable impact on the Chinese theatre industry: Analysis and Reflections on the Theories of Acting of Meyerhold (2001), Titus Andronicus: approach to minimalist aesthetics and physical theatre (2014) and Writings from the Seine: my reflections on theatre (2016). Tang’s major awards include thrice winning Best Director in the Hong Kong Drama Awards, the Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service, Certificate of Commendation by the Secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau, Honorary Fellow of Lingnan University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, l’Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and Excellence Award by the Undercloud Festival of Romania. In 2008 and 2013, he was awarded Arts Achievement and the Best Artist of the Year respectively by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2020, he was awarded the Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. He has served in a number of public bodies and continues to make substantial contributions to the Hong Kong cultural sector.

The Annette Leday/Keli Company (France), Kathakali – King Lear

Dir. Annette LEDAY (France) and David McRUVIE (Australia)

French dancer and choreographer Annette LEDAY and Australian playwright David McRUVIE transposed King Lear into Kathakali, an Indian dance and theatre tradition. The central themes of kinship, love, renunciation to the world and war are magnified by the colourful storytelling, the makeup and the huge headdresses of the dancers who move the stage through the harmony of their gestures and the intensity of their emotions. The play has become a reference in the field of intercultural performance since its premiere in 1989. This film is of a 2019 performance.

ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION

Annette LEDAY (France)

Dancer and choreographer Annette LEDAY has developed a unique approach to intercultural contemporary creation, focusing on the dance and theatre traditions of India and France. After training as an actress in France she went to India in 1978 to study Kathakali dance-theatre. With scholarships from the ICCR Indian Government and the French Ministry of Culture she practiced Kathakali in Kerala at the Sadanam and Kalamandalam institutions, participating in performances of the two troupes in India as well as abroad. A graduate of the Institut des Langues Orientales in Paris, she speaks fluent Malayalam. Since 1989, she has directed and choreographed performances for both Indian and Western dancers, actors and musicians.

Yohangza Theatre Company, Pericles

Dir. YANG Jung-Ung

Director YANG Jung-Ung emphasizes the contemporaneity of the play with modern and cosmopolitan costumes, music and dances. The imagistic stage is very impressive, too. The 30m depth stage covered with 50t of sand creates the image of sea and island. The gigantic statue of Diana’s head, which lies sideways on stage left, expresses the precarious deity. The huge images of a compass and a moon, which are alternatively projected on the back screen of the stage, give a proper background to Pericles, who wanders from place to place. Gower, who leads the whole play as a narrator, is transformed into old Pericles.

ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION

YANG Jung-Ung (South Korea)

YANG Jung Ung founded the Yohangza Theatre Company in 1997. His aesthetic philosophy has been the creation of images that are produced through harmony among the lighting, sound and bodily movements. He has expanded the horizon of dramatic language with his exceptional directorship that relies on harmonizing Eastern philosophy with the aesthetics of images and space. He received the Grand Prix for Karma (2003) at the 15th Cairo International Experimental Drama Festival. The company was the first Korean company to perform at the Barbican (2006) and Shakespeare’s Globe (2012) in London. A Midsummer Night’s Dream went on to receive the Grand Prix and Audience Award at the 10th Gdansk Shakespeare Festival. As a director, he has been exploring new genres with the drama Peer Gynt, operas Woyzeck and Chun-saeng-yon-bun and the ballet musical Shim-chung. In 2018, he was appointed the director of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics ceremony.

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