Brothers of War
Cultural Centre, Studio Theatre Jul 20-22
Hong Kong artist Hoi Chiu has set a challenge for himself by putting on a multimedia show that incorporates sand paintings, martial arts, dance, puppet shows and more at this year’s International Arts Carnival. Having already won acclaim for Brothers of War at Beijing Children’s Theatre Festival and Kaohsiung Theatre Festival, the director and performer is now ready to debut in his hometown a production unlike anything seen here before. He’s not worried though. Hong Kong audiences are ‘more willing to accept new things’, says Hoi Chiu, thrilled to have the room to push the envelope further at home.
Inspired by the stories he heard during his stay in South Korea as a resident artist, Hoi Chiu has taken the risk to set his story – which is meant to appeal to all ages – against a more unconventional topic, being warfare and the brutality that comes along with it. The artist is hopeful that Brothers of War will connect with its family audiences. And while he wants to keep the younger audience in mind, he doesn’t want to skirt real life problems either. “Hongkongers always think war [is] far away from us, but it really isn’t,” he reasons. “At the end of the day, I want parents to discuss issues like war with their children. It is part of our lives too.”
With perhaps only the title remaining the same, Hoi Chiu is bringing in new elements for the show’s third run. Shaolin monk Li Peng joins Hong Kong contemporary dancer Kwok Ka-yuen on stage for some authentic fighting and combat, while Siu2 will perform live music specifically written for the show by composer Ng Cheuk-yin. Puppet shows, magic tricks, video projections and, of course, Hoi Chiu’s signature sand paintings will all be among what we can expect from this multimedia production. Always aiming at something innovative, Hoi Chiu will also, for the first time, do sand paintings on a tailor-made drum in addition to bringing in a whole new dimension of blending music with the visual art form.
It may sound like too much going on for a one-hour performance, but the confident director promises it is all within the grasp of what a typical audience can handle. “It is never [about] how many media you have used but how you put them together.” He believes that different media complement one another and help enhance the entire theatre experience. “We can, for example, zoom-in with sand paintings which is not possible with drama alone,” he adds. “It’s almost like you are watching a movie, you can see from different perspectives now.”
Performed in Cantonese with English surtitles. Tickets: 2734 9009; urbtix.hk.