A timeless classic appears anew on stage
Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume
Does true love equate possession? How about sacrificing oneself for love?
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】The Ming classic Legend of the Red Plum has moved innumerable audiences, and Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume recasts the story from the perspective of Lu Zhaorong in the love triangle. When two beautiful women fall in love with the same talented scholar, should they insist on love as possession or generously offer themselves for their beloved? When someone sacrifices her own self for love, is that love anymore? Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume is co-written by HKRep Artistic Director Anthony Chan and Yuen Kai-Chi. It is directed by Anthony Chan, featuring special guests Shek Sau and Chan Kwok Pong along with HKRep company members Kiki Cheung, Chris Sun, Wang Wei and Mercy Wong. Presented in Cantonese with Chinese and English surtitles, Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume runs from 2nd to 10th September at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets. Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume is an accredited event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The new drama Reincarnation of the Prunus Mume depicts the infamous Jia Sidao (played by Shek Sau) —a prime minister in the Southern Song dynasty—and his household of many concubines. One of his most famous concubines, Li Huiniang (played by Kiki Cheung) secretly falls in love with the scholar Pei Shunqing (played by Chan Kwok Pong). When Jia discovers the liaison, Huiniang is killed at the Red Plum Pavilion in order to save her lover. Lu Zhaorong (also played by Kiki Cheung) is a chilvalrous woman who looks exactly like Huiniang; she also falls in love with Pei Shunqing. When she finds out Pei’s heart still belongs to Huiniang, would she insist on love as possession, or generously offer her corpse to be reincarnated and occupied by another soul?
Playwright and director Anthony Chan acknowledged that when he saw the Cantonese opera version of Reincarnation of the Red Plum, he had already fallen in love with the story. The script (by Tang Tik Sang) left a strong impression on Chan. This spoken drama adaptation aims to reposition the story from the perspective of Lu Zhaorong—her choice of giving up her life so that Huiniang can be reincarnated, but does Lu really love Pei? Playwright Yuen Kai-Chi, winner of a Golden Horse for “Best screenplay adaptation”, is a staunch believer in the power of the stage, making his debut as playwright this work that uses a contemporary angle to look at the story to accentuate the differences between friendship and love in today’s society. Lu Zhaorong becomes a surrogate for Huiniang, but can she really replace Huiniang?
Shek Sau and Chan Kwok Pong join the cast in playing the villain Jia Sidao and scholar Pei Shunqing respectively. Both men are in love with Li Huiniang. Jia Sidao, who is always suspicious, lives in exile on the West Lake, consumed by emotional conflicts. Pei Shunqing falls in love with Huiniang despite knowing she is Jia’s concubine, even planning to escape with her. Two acting stars await their chance to appear on stage with the HKRep as they look forward to creating many a spark in the theatre.
Playwright Yuen Kai-Chi
Yuen Kai-Chi is a veteran cultural expert who has a doctorate in communications from the University of South Australia with a thesis on the creative transformations of Hong Kong film between its golden era (1985–1994) and dark ages (1995–2004).
His screenplay adaptation for A Chinese Ghost Story won him the 1987 Golden Horse Award. In 2014, he produced and directed You Are Not Alone featuring Maggie Cheung Hoyee and David Chiang, which won the CCTV Best Micro Film award as well as Top Ten Films in the 2nd China-Taiwan-Hong Kong Micro Film Festival. During the 1980s, in the heyday of Hong Kong film, Yuen has served in many capacities—from scriptwriter, producer to executive producer—creating more than 40 blockbusters, among them Once Upon A Time in China (Jet Li), Drunker Master II (Jackie Chan), The Seventh Curse (Chow Yun Fat), Fight Back to School II (Stephen Chow), Sworn Brothers (Andy Lau), The Chinese Feast (Leslie Cheung), Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung), A Chinese Ghost Story II (Jacky Cheung), The Dragon Family (Alan Tam), Burning Sensation (Dodo Cheng), I Love Maria (Sally Yeh), Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Cherie Chung), Shanghai Shanghai (Yuen Biao), Picture of a Nymph (Wu Ma) and In the Blood (Corie Yuen). Yuen produced, directed, and wrote the screenplay for Hot Cop in the City. He also wrote his autobiographical film Time for Hope. In 2007, he directed and acted in a public service advertisement for the Department of Health. The following year, he produced a 90-minute feature film for Baptist University master’s degree students entitled The Autumnal Equinox, a work that helps preserve the art of nanyin. In 2012, Yuen produced and directed a promotional video for the Tung Wah Group of Hospital’s Radio i-Care and produced and directed two micro films: You Are Not Alone (2014) and Treasure (2015). He also worked for many years as a freelancer for TVB, ATV, including script advisor to the 2006 anniversary production of Relentless Justice. Most recently, Yuen has branched out to animated games, working in Hangzhou creating such games as Tang Dynasty Adventures and Battle of Landmines.
Yuen has been a versatile creator, having worked in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia on television in developing drama series, writing novels, manga, columns in newspapers and as radio host, honing his skills in different languages and media until the transformation of the entertainment industry by the end of the 20th century, when Apple Daily and Ming Pao Weekly editors also changed their philosophies. After the millennium, Yuen pursued advance studies, completing master’s and doctoral degrees, teaching in such institutions as Hong Kong’s Baptist University, Polytechnic University, City University, School of Continuing and Professional Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as well as manpower schemes for television media, professional film courses offered by the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Chu Hai College of Higher Education, the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education, and courses offered by the Open University and the Hong Kong Screenwriters’ Guild. Yuen was appointed to the executive committee and management level of the Vocational Training Council’s Film and Television Retraining Board. In 2006, he served on the committee for the Regeneration Warriors and currently serves as an executive board member of the Labour and Welfare Bureau (2005–2011, serving two terms). He is also a member of the grant committee of the Arts Development Council, the Tung Wah Group’s Radio i-Care and advisor to the Wong Fei Hung Athletic Society. In 2011–2012, Yuen was selected among the outstanding volunteers of the Tung Wah Group. In 2013, he was among the finalists in the Hong Kong Loving Hearts Campaign and the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.
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