West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre
West Kowloon Jan 20-23 (Cantonese opera performances, sold out); Jan 19, 21-24 (Bamboo Theatre exhibition, free); Jan 24 (Bamboo Cinema screening, free)
It’s the first opportunity for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to show what it can do for our city’s cultural scene. Celebrating the Year of Dragon, it’s kicking off with a series of traditional Cantonese opera performances at its Bamboo Theatre, along with an art exhibition.
Often performed in street shows at the start of the British rule, Cantonese opera is one of the oldest art forms in Hong Kong. “The performance is an indication of how rooted Cantonese opera is in the daily life of Hong Kong,” says Lars Nittve, executive director of M+, of the series of performances to inaugurate the future site of West Kowloon’s Xiqu Centre. Marking the debut of the Bamboo Theatre, the performances are priced at $10 a ticket. It’s no wonder that the 800-seated shows sold out almost immediately the mornings the sales began. Nittve continues: “It’s a humble start, but I think it’ll be a glorious start at the same time.”
The series starts off with the political drama Prime Minister of Six States, which tells the tale of So Chun persuading the rulers of six states to enter into an alliance against the Qin State. It’s followed by four whimsical love dramas set against historic backgrounds: Contention for the Seal, a famous story on the love and bravery of two Han dynasty warriors; The Fair Couples Welcome the New Year, The Lady Marshal and the Rash General and The Sassy Princess and Her Blunt Husband, three funny and witty stories of princesses and noblemen seeking true love despite all obstacles.
Adding to the richness of Bamboo Theatre’s cultural experience, M+ (the future Museum of Visual Arts) will give us a first glimpse of its directions with an exhibition of newly commissioned works by five contemporary artists, including Chu Hing-wah, Gaylord Chan, Michael Wolf, Samson Young and Henry Chu. Five rarely-seen opera-themed film classics, including John Woo’s Princess Chang Ping (1976) and Ann Hui’s Spooky Bunch (1980), will also be shown in back-to-back outdoor screenings on January 24, with English subtitles.
“Bamboo Theatre will be an important contribution to show some of the unique local art forms, and to show an indication that we want to bring together traditional and contemporary art forms in Hong Kong,” says Michael Lynch, the CEO of WKCDA. “My expectations are huge for the idea of having all of the physical space, plus the park, and the range of places to eat, drink, talk, and meet people. West Kowloon is for everyone.”
For details, visit www.bambootheatre.wkcda.hk.