Second re-run of an award-winning theatrical gem
Memories real and imagined juxtapose as life struggles near its end
【HKRep】Aging and decline are necessary stages in life. As the elderly population increases, Alzheimer’s disease has become a growing health issue in our society. How does such a seemingly incurable ailment affect the patient and his family? The HKRep will soon present a re-run of Le Père, a dramatic work whose vivid storytelling draws the audience into the protagonist’s mind. What the theatregoer experiences while witnessing the patient’s changing circumstances and the pressures on his caregivers can hopefully create more empathy among the wider public. Written by France’s celebrated playwright Florian Zeller, Le Père chronicles how a father experiences the corollaries of his ailment as the audience takes such a journey with him. Winner of the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play, Le Père was also nominated for the Olivier and Tony Awards. The English film adaptation, The Father, directed by the playwright, received more than 150 nominations and awards across the globe, including winning Best Actor at BAFTA, six Oscar nominations and four Golden Globe nominations.
The HKRep first introduced this play to our audiences in 2017, the premiere production garnering a total of four accolades at the 27th Hong Kong Drama Awards for Best Director (Tragedy/Drama), Best Actor (Tragedy/Drama), Best Lighting Design and Outstanding Production of the Year. Along with the 2019 re-run, tickets were hard to come by for all 30 sold-out shows to date. In addition to winning Best Actor at the Hong Kong Drama Awards, HKRep Director Laureate Fredric Mao was named Actor of the Year in the IATC(HK) Critics Awards in 2017 and nominated for Best Actor at the 2021 Shanghai One Drama Awards. The Hong Kong version of this play is translated by Dr. Sonia Au and directed by HKRep Assistant Artistic Director Fung Wai Hang. Le Père’s cast reunites Fredric Mao in the title role with Pang Hang Ying, Alice Lau, and HKRep company members Ko Hon Man, Chris Sun and Kiki Cheung. Sales during the early bird booking period has been so robust that the HKRep has added an additional show on May 30th. The production runs from May 20th to 30th at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are available now from POPTICKET and URBTIX outlets.
Le Père follows the story of an elderly father, André (played by Fredric Mao) gradually loses his ability to live independently. His daughter, Anne (played by Pang Hang Ying) moves him in to live with her and her boyfriend, tending to his daily necessities. André suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, vacillates between humorous disposition and state of confusion. “Reality” gradually dissolves in his mind, challenging their father-daughter relationship. Shouldering filial love and her responsibility to family, Anne is under tremendous pressure to make the “appropriate” decision. Can her father regain control of his own spirit and decide his own fate at the last moments of his life?
Zeller’s nuanced script in which emotions and contradictions are deftly handled has won enthusiastic praise from HKRep Artistic Director Anthony Chan. The plot underlines the conflict of filial love and responsibility while shining a light on the loneliness and helplessness of old age and disease. This production bears testament to the HKRep’s highest standards no matter in direction, performance and execution. The intimacy of live performance and the immediacy of audience response in the theatre both reaffirm the fact that the stage is irreplaceable. The second re-run of Le Père, however, had to be called off because of the pandemic. This year, to bolster our 2021-22 season’s theme of “Theatre Returns to Life,” we reprise Le Père, a work that is so closely intertwined with both theatre and life. We look forward to sharing Le Père’s compassion and sentiments as we all reflect on our lives.
Director Fung Wai Hang comments on revisiting this contemporary masterpiece: “As we greet the second re-run of Le Père, I strongly believe in the work’s importance in taking the audience into the minds of Alzheimer’s patients and letting us explore the world they live in. According to research, the number of adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease has seen a gradual increase in Hong Kong, thus Le Père reminds us all to face the issue squarely and with empathy. Previous runs of this play have created great resonance in our community, bringing comfort to patients and their caregivers. I sincerely dedicate Le Père to friends suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well as their caregivers and medical personnel, sending them my well wishes and support!”
Special guest actor Fredric Mao eagerly anticipates the second re-run of this play. “Le Père is a drama about a father—suffering from Alzheimer’s disease—and his family. The playwright shows us a world through the eyes of patriarch that is richly dramatic. Not only did our audience applaud the production when I played the role of André in 2017 and 2019, but they also deepened their understanding of the disease. Le Père is a reminder for all of us that at the most difficult moment, we must face hardship with courage, taking care of people around us. Loving care and support are the best antidotes.”
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