The curious case of lady Samantha
Edgy theatre company Metro-HoliK takes on transexuality in a new play. Hannah Slapper discovers how the margins of society can affect Hong Kong as a whole
The ‘T’ in LGBT has always been an issue. Why is it there? Transgender men and women aren’t set apart by their sexuality, like the L, G and B in their collective defining group, and yet they are often seen in the same light. This confusion between sexuality and gender is just another rung in the ladder of ignorance and misunderstanding that lurches from the depths of poor education up to the heights of enlightened misrepresentation. Yet with theatre companies like Metro-HoliK addressing serious minority matters, there is hope that the shackles containing the topics of sexuality and gender will be released into a more free-thinking Hong Kong.
Pak Li, the author of last year’s Rope of Love, award-winning director Octavian Chan, and well-known actor Sam Choy have come together to create Lady Samantha, a fascinating insight into the mindset of a pre-operation man who is deciding whether or not to take that final step into becoming a woman.
Choy, who plays Sam/Samantha, explains the key theme of the stage production: “It’s about people making choices in their life, and forgetting part of their history in order to do that.” He insists that “it’s not really a play about the conflict between sexuality and society,” but rather, “we’re just simply showing how transgender people live.”
In the play, Sam/Samantha’s mother deals with an estranged husband and a failing business; his best friend is coming to terms with the self-sacrifice needed to dedicate one’s life to another person; and his psychologist is beginning to understand how love can diminish if not tended to. The play has become not only a study of transgender issues, but of the loneliness that can ensue from not understanding each other: something that affects everybody.
So, what does this mean for the LGBT society? Li says his final goal would be an undivided group, a united front where there is support and community within the different minorities. Choy expands: “All the different groups have different problems and opinions and it drives them apart. I think – you’re already a minority group – why are you discriminating against each other?”
Their hope is that, while the play is in Cantonese, a wide range of people will come and see it and be able to connect with a particular character onstage. Although Metro-HoliK is renowned for covering these LGBT minority issues, it wants to expand into writing about minority feelings within this environment. Choy says “We all agree that Hong Kong is quite a lonely city, but there is a warmth here. We want to dig it up, and show people what they are missing.” Hence the name ‘Metro-HoliK’, they are tapping into that paradoxical feeling of addictive togetherness in a place that can leave you feeling alone in a crowd. The message is pure and simple: we need to stick together.
Lady Samantha Thu 14-Sun 17
Tickets: 2734 9009; www.urbtix.hk