Winner of 6 Hong Kong Drama Awards and 2 Shanghai One Drama Awards
China Everbright Limited Proudly Sponsors Hu Xueyan, my Dear (2018)
Revival production set to conquer the Chinese-language theatre scene
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】The late Qing merchant Hu Xueyan had incomparable experiences in his life. Apart from opening banks, trading in tea and silk, and offering free medicine to the poor, he was also the court-appointed Inspector of Zhejiang. How did he manage to dominate both the political and business worlds? Outstanding playwright Paul Poon recreated his legendary life in Hu Xueyan, my Dear in its 2016 premiere production directed by Roy Szeto, setting an unprecedented record of 20 full-house performances. The production won the Hong Kong Drama Awards in six categories, including Best Overall Performance, Outstanding Production of the Year, Best Script and Best Actor (Tragedy/Drama), as well as Best Script and Best Director at the Shanghai One Drama Awards. This revival features a revised script, new cast members and design elements that will surely take the Chinese-language theatre scene by storm again. Hu Xueyan, My Dear’s cast includes Poon Chan Leung in the title role, along with Lau Shau Ching, Mercy Wong, Lui Si Lan, Ko Hon Man, Yu Hon Ting, Yau Ting Fai and Eddy Au Yeung. This drama runs between 4th and 19th August at the Hong Kong Arts Centre Shouson Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets.
The story is about Hu Xueyan (played by Poon Chan Leung) experienced ups and downs in his life, his fate closely tied to the ebb and flow of the fortunes of the final decades of the Qing dynasty. Clairvoyant in observing trends and how best to utilize people around him, Hu transformed himself from a penniless lad to the nation’s top merchant powerful enough to rival the court. Despite tumultuous times, he used his unique talents and financial resources to help Wang Youling and Zuo Zongtang to combat the Taiping rebels as well as Western powers. Equally comfortable among officials and traders, Hu was a man of ideals intent to challenge Westerners on political and business fronts, at the same time making generous donations to provide free medical care for the poor. In his mind, life was a never-ending game to catch.
Hu Xueyan’s amazing vision and perception has long attracted the attention of playwright Paul Poon to bring that life to the stage. “I finished a draft of Hu Xueyan, my Dear as early as 1998. Preparing for this play, I searched all over and found all extant materials available about him. From all this information I created a story line, mixing reality with imagination. These days, few people are dreamers, even fewer are willing to follow their dreams, let alone those unwavering in pursuit of their dreams. I hope the character of Hu Xueyan I’ve created retains such charisma.” This new version is tighter and even more focussed and refined. The narrative approach is also transformed, as dramatic characters themselves provide commentaries that traverse time and space.
To Director Roy Szeto, Hu Xueyan under Paul Poon’s pen is amazingly intelligent yet wildly self-confident. The character almost could fit into our contemporary world. The underlying messages, then, are all the more intriguing. “Hu Xueyan dared to speak what others wouldn’t dare. He also forged an unusual path for his life. Living amidst the tidal waves of history, he experienced the world’s malice and bitterness. When human values are only measured by money, our sense of humanity is often abandoned. Can the suffering Chinese people really be saved this way? Is this a tragedy, an elegy, or a heartbreaking saga? Who can determine winners and losers?”
Artistic Director Anthony Chan states, “The wonder of Hu Xueyan, my Dear is that it contains both historical sensitivity and universal appeal! For many years, Hu Xueyan has been featured in various works in different media, yet Paul Poon has shown his creative resilience, connecting the life of a late Qing dynasty figure and the emotions of modern theatregoers. We can learn a lot from Hu’s calm demeanour amidst turmoil, even his fearless and daring attitude.”
After the Hong Kong production run, Hu Xueyan, my Dear will tour in mainland China, including such stops as:
August 24-25 at Opera Hall, Guangzhou Opera House
August 31- September 1 at Shenzhen Nanshan Wenti Centre Grand Theatre
September 7-9 at Theatre Above, Shanghai
September 14-15 at Tianjin GuangHua Theatre
September 21-23 at Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Center Lyric Theatre
Playwright Paul Poon
Hong Kong citizen who teaches; he is also an amateur playwright.
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