Young Talent Time

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A very special Academy concert took place on the weekend which put the spotlight on the Academy’s young talent. The concert featured two of the Junior Music Programmes’ choirs, the Chinese Music Ensemble and the Junior Symphony Orchestra. A cracking performance of a movement from Mendelsohn’s 4th Symphony highlighted the quality and depth of training our young musicians receive. This was again highlighted in the performance by the Chinese Music Ensemble that someone commented would make us proud wherever they performed.

There are clearly some wonderful things going on in this most important area of the Academy’s work – if you get the chance please join us for one of our Junior Music Programme events during our 30th Anniversary Year. I am sure you will be as impressed as I was and most importantly have a wonderfully entertaining time.

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The Bard’s Birthday Bash

Celebrating Shakespeare 450th birthday was a wonderful way to highlight the upcoming Academy production of the Taming of the Shrew, one of our major 30th Anniversary Year events. This extraordinary and innovative production draws together all the Schools at the Academy and truly fulfils the Academy’s vision of creating a cross disciplinary creative learning space in a city that is renowned as a unique point of intersection between Eastern and Western cultural practice. I am sure everyone will be intrigued to see how we weave a play within a play showcasing the extraordinary Cantonese operatic tradition.

Our Chair of Drama, Professor Ceri Sherlock, drew attention to Shakespeare’s work as a creative, collaborative innovator who was worldly wise and understood the demands of the industry. Shakespeare had that special ability to be able to deliver what the audience wanted while at the same time creating works of art that challenged the entrenched and pushed the boundaries of traditions – one thinks of Bach and Mozart in the same vein!

For me Shakespeare was first and foremost a consummate storyteller, something all of us in the performing arts aspire to be, whatever our medium of expression.

Join us on the 9th and the 10th of May for this special event but get in quick as without doubt it will be a sell-out performance.

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An Impressively Professional Production

Over the four day Easter break our team at EXCEL presented six high octane performances a day at the Hong Kong International Airport. Based on the Wizard of Oz this ‘tailor made’ production entertained a large number of people being ideally placed in the arrival hall. What better way to while away the time while waiting for colleagues, friends and loved ones to arrive – clearly those at the airport agreed and thoroughly enjoyed the twenty minute show.

The Airport Authority spared nothing and committed to very high production values that made the experience very special for all involved.

Something quite unique that I hope to see continuing into the future – a great relationship for the Academy that gives our students a very special performance opportunity indeed.

Congratulations to the EXCEL creative team led by Alice van Kapel and Charles Teo and of course all the young performers who shone as the stars of the show.

And a big thank you to Rebecca Ho and the Airport team for their support.

Have a look at the YouTube clip at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK0lvgkgkZI#t=18

Be sure to use some good headphones if you want to capture the full experience.Group Photo with Director (3)Airport 1A

雜感--馴、悍、記

「馴」:馴服,為我所使用。在這跨院製作中,要把每種原來獨當一面的藝術元素(音樂、舞蹈、戲曲…)融合在一場製作,確要一點「馴」的技巧。要馴,「唔使用武器嘅…」,卻是用耐性與智慧,以及對藝術要求片刻不放鬆。在Professor Sherlock身上,我體會到「擇善固執」的態度。

「悍」:強硬,堅韌不屈。這字一般帶貶意,才有劇中男主角的馴悍行動。但如前所述,對心目中的真善美保持一定的「悍」,也是人應有的風骨。

「記」:記敘、記憶。劇雖名「記」,但戲劇不是流水賬,在重現故事的過程,一定包含了說故事者的個人感想和體會。用拆字來看,「記」者,「己言」也。常說劇本為一度創作,演員為二度創作,舞台效果為三度創作,還有觀眾腦海消化、體會、感悟過程的四度創作呢!在這跨院製作,每一個環節都加入了參與者的才智與「己言」。期待觀眾來看時,在娛樂之餘盡情感受台上台下的交流,並加入自己的思考,共同創造這一部「記」。

The Taming of the Shrew – guest blog from Director, Ceri Sherlock

After a long break from blogging, I’m delighted to be back with news of one of our very special 30th Anniversary productions, The Taming of the Shrew.  And who better to talk about it than Chair of the School of Drama, Ceri Sherlock, who is directing the interdisciplinary production.  Over to you, Ceri!

The Taming of the Shrew Inter School CollaborationCeri-Sherlock-249x370

Progress report … notes to self

 “Just over half way through the rehearsal period and with performances in exactly a month’s time (May 9th & 10th) this is the moment to take stock. The journey began driven by the old Department of Chinese Opera several years ago but has now linked to the Academy’s 30th Anniversary celebrations involving most of our Schools of Dance, Drama, Music and Theatre and Entertainment Arts. The journey and the creativity and challenge it requires have exponentially increased, together with expectation – no pressure there!

But it remains extraordinarily exciting, interesting and inspiring, demanding many and different challenges in staging and interpretation (and diplomacy).

Achieving a common purpose under a single artistic vision has been essential, as notoriously, creativity and originality, even less innovation, is hard to achieve (more so without sufficient time, resources and cooperative understanding). Artistic preference, taste and expression are unique and as a Director (of stage productions) I know how important it is to create a team but also to lead it, steer it, shape its artistic choices and keep it moving forward.

Time and scheduling are our natural enemies. There is never enough time to create art – Goethe reminds us that “art is long, but life is short” how right he was! – co-ordinating timetables of regular classes and individual Schools’ production times and practices is the challenge. Fortunately, Western production practice in which I am educated is disciplined to be efficient and economic using the best of the time available. It makes for a result but not always for depth and detail. More detail needed – more time for creative exploration!

But working on Shakespeare again is so enriching, and like an education in itself. On the one hand Shakespeare is so direct in story and character but so complex in nuance, meaning and message. The Taming of the Shrew, (not my choice of his plays – far too difficult) is a particularly challenge as it requires a firm hand and a clear interpretation. It can just become a silly ‘battle of the sexes’ romp, enjoyable but ultimately condoning that which Shakespeare puts at the focus of his play – power, status, hierarchy and human ‘civilized’ interaction. It can become a ‘distracting comedy’ rather than the ‘conceit’ or the game/trick that Shakespeare had in mind for his exploration of love, marriage and relationships.

In rehearsals the tendency to comedy is easy and enjoyable, but not quite on the mark. The Chinese Opera sections tend to avoid any seriousness ‘to please the audience’. We need to be clear about why we are doing this play, today!

And artforms – there is a world of difference between the culture of Cantonese Opera and Western Theatre. In my previous imaginings Chinese Theatre is one of the world’s most disciplined and dedicated of theatre practices but I discover that the rigours of a School of Drama rehearsal regime is perhaps even more regimented. But the exposure of both to each other is fruitful and there is a creativity of being alien and a creativity in being “lost in translation”. This is the space of innovation.

At this stage the ‘language of the production’ is forming and defining itself but the challenge of unifying still remains … hybridity (and postmodernity) is eclectic in nature, but should not be diffuse in meaning. Clarify! Simply! Be Consistent! Communicate with the audience, and say something relevant!

My creative collaborators both students and colleagues are being brilliant and patient, adding this production to their extremely busy and very Hong Kong daily and personal schedules.

It is great to be working again with costume designer Mandy Tam, our third collaboration, and to work with Yoki Lai – so creative and imaginative with the setting and the task of bringing together the disparate elements in a contemporary aesthetic that incorporates East and West. But thank goodness I am lucky to be Chair of Drama and can call on my School for support and assistance not least the Director of Movement and Associate Director, the talented Tony Wong and my, rather clever and wonderful Assistant to Director students, Chuen and Donald. But once again I am reminded of my professional life at the highest level, when I work with the Stage Management team from the School of Theatre and Entertainment Arts … where would we be …

But just finishing Act1/Part1 and starting Act2/Part 2 a month before opening cannot breed any complacency – there is so much to do … soooo much to do, and so much detail to be done!

And then there are the holidays … why so many at this time of the year … and in the middle of our production? … even Shakespeare’s Birthday on the 26th of April!

Corragio! We won’t please everyone but it will be darned interesting and highly creative. Keep going forward … to be continued!

ceri sherlock

Artistic Director of the project

& Chair of the School of Drama