Playwright Paul Poon & Director Roy Szeto together again
Poon Chan Leung plays the most powerful merchant in the late Qing dynasty
as a battle begin where no blood is drawn
Panasonic proudly sponsors: Hu Xueyan, My Dear
A vicious and dark Qing court battle under the radar
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】The legendary figure and powerful merchant Hu Xueyan spent his life among officials and traders. He was good at gathering capable people around him, using his own wealth to save his country and its people. Unfortunately, he was dragged into a power struggle inside the royal court. Outstanding playwright Paul Poon recreates the legendary life in Hu Xueyan, My Dear, using history as a mirror to reflect on our world today, creating a dialogue between the past and the present. This play is directed by Roy Szeto, winner of Best Script and Best Director at the Hong Kong Drama Awards, with Hoyingfung providing scenography concept and production design. Hu Xueyan, My Dear’s cast includes Poon Chan Leung, Chris Sun, Mercy Wong, Ko Hon Man, Lau Shau Ching, Lui Si Lan and Sun Limin. This new drama begins previews on October 8th and 9th; it opens officially on October 12th and runs until October 30th at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets.
The time is late Qing dynasty. Hu Xueyan (played by Poon Chan Leung), one of the country’s wealthiest merchants, is actively acquiring weapons and military supplies, in full support of General Zuo Zongtang (played by Sun Limin) against the threat of foreign invasion and internal uprising. Li Hongzhang, who has been at odds with Zuo over the years, is closing in on Hu in an act to eliminate those who get in his way. This vicious and dark battle is perhaps, as the Chinese saying goes, a battle where people are killed yet no blood is drawn.
To director Roy Szeto, Hu Xueyan, My Dear is a dramatic, at times riveting play. He says, “This script makes for a smooth reading, bringing the audience into the psychological world of Hu Xueyan, and through which you get a glimpse of that world that was China. At a time when all that surrounded him was tragedy, Hu Xueyan remained hopeful and passionate in saving his country wherever he could find a way, and however he could find a place. He was a man who knew and trusted those with talent. He handled people and problems in the most unusual ways.”
Associate Actor Poon Chan Leung returns to the HKRep after his title role in The Professor. In this work, he plays the legendary merchant through four decades spanning from his 20’s to his 60’s. He admits, “Hu Xueyan was an iconic figure. His success as a merchant was based on his unique philosophy: he wanted to make money but not at the expense of others. If we were to apply this principle to our society—a businessman enriches not only himself but also everyone else—it is certainly worth our looking into now.”
Playwright Paul Poon has penned both The Emperor, his Mom, a Eunuch and a Man and Hu Xueyan, My Dear. Both plays are based on historical figures, but the dramatic narratives reconstruct these characters’ psyche, thus making us ponder anew their motives and actions.
This production combines diverse performance elements, including imageries from Taichi, traditional opera and shadow puppetry. Hoyingfung provides scenography concept and production design, creating a unique performance space for Hu Xueyan, My Dear.
About Playwright Paul Poon
A citizen of Hong Kong whose parents were both refugees who escaped to Hong Kong during the Second World War. Poon currently teaches, devoting his spare time in writing plays.
About Director Roy Szeto
Roy Szeto received a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the School of Drama, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA), and is currently Senior Lecturer (Directing) of the School. Among his recent works is Twelfth Night for HKAPA and The Amahs for Hong Kong Arts Festival. A veteran playwright and director adept at fusing elements that are both artistic and filled with wide popular appeal, he has produced stage works both innovative and subtly nuanced.
Szeto was Resident Director of the HKRep between 2006 and 2012, and is currently associate director of the company. Before joining the HKRep, he had directed the company’s production Xi Nai on Rock; he was also co-director with Fredric Mao in the 2004 black comedy A Small Family Business starring Anthony Wong. After joining the HKRep, Szeto had directed such works as The Lost and Found Trilogy, Calling, the original musical Family Protection Unit, Moon over Buffalo, Beautiful Connection, Communicating Doors, Le Dieu du carnage, Shed Skin, Being Poon Chan Leung – Chanting in Silhouette, I Have a Date with Autumn and The Emperor, his Mom, a Eunuch and a Man, injecting contemporary energy and dynamism onto the stage.
Szeto has long been involved in popular large-scale productions, among them Snow Wolf Lake, The Legend, Freemen Show 2, War of the Genders, Cheung Tat-Ming’s One-Man Show 1 & 2, A Man & A Woman and Butterfly Lovers. In 2000, his directing piece, 1941 Girl generated tremendous resonance within theatre circles.
Szeto is a frequent collaborator at the W Theatre, where he has worked on Best Memories in My Life, Superman Forever, Butterfly Lovers, Once in a Lifetime, Unhappy and Octave with co-director Wong Chi-Lung. Apart from directing, he has also contributed multimedia creations for such recent blockbusters as Queer Show, Scrooge – the Musical and Dr. Faustus. Szeto was awarded along with Leo Cheung and Billy Tang Best Lighting Design for Dr. Faustus at the 2011 Hong Kong Drama Awards.
Szeto’s HKRep productions have been selected numerous times among the Top 10 Popular Productions at the Hong Kong Drama Awards. He has received six nominations as Best Director. He was awarded Best Director for Le Dieu du carnage, Shed Skin and The Emperor, his Mom, a Eunuch and a Man in 2011, 2012 and 2014 respectively. Shed Skin and The Emperor, his Mom, a Eunuch and a Man were also awarded Best Production and other awards.
About Scenography Concept and Production Designer Hoyingfung
Born in Hong Kong, founder and artistic director of Ho Bit Goon (formerly known as Theatre Fanatico), Hoyingfung received his doctorate in applied social science at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and his Bachelor’s and MFA degrees in theatre at the University of Houston. He began his career in professional theatre and performance arts in 1979 (playing such roles as director, playwright, set designer, costume and lighting designer, producer and translator). To date, he has participated in more than 150 theatrical productions. His works have been produced in more than fifteen cities around the world, including such cities and countries as Hong Kong, mainland China, Southeast Asia, Europe and America.
In 1993, Ho co-founded Theatre Resolu with Tang Shu-Wing, opening a new outlet for Hong Kong’s independent theatre scene. In May 1996, he founded Theatre Fanatico on his own with a singularly artistic mission to explore new possibilities for Hong Kong and Chinese theatrical development. Among Ho’s key works are Miss Julie of Yuen Chow Street Trilogy, which he wrote and directed, featuring Entering Miss Julie, Miss Julie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Butterfly Dream (the last two have been performed in Tokyo; a revised production of the second work was featured in the China Youth Art Theatre’s “1998 Studio Theatre Festival” in October 1998). In 1999, he created In Search of a Floating Stone and for the opening celebrations of the Kwai Tsing Theatre, Mother. In 2003, Hoyingfung created a musical theatre piece The Seventh Drawer for the Legends of China Festival. Three years later, he created Exposed/Still Burning, delving into the topic of education for the New Vision Arts Festival. He also created a work examining the development of China’s northwest hinterland, entitled Heading West. In 2009, he followed with Heading West 2: The Curious Case of Sanzang. Ho’s recent works include the 2012 New Vision Arts Festival commission O You Heavenly Creatures!, which examines the cultural ramifications of multiple suicides among Chinese female factory workers. He has also spent three years exploring free writing, resulting in the Special Delivery: Politically Intractable.
In August 2015, Hoyingfung and local art critic Joanna Lee curated a cultural research project entitled “Cultural Exhibition and Performance on the Path of the Body” for Blank Space Studio, providing local performing artists a space to explore body culture and content of performance art.
About Hu Xueyan, My Dear
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