Verbatim theatre stimulates debate on urban development in Shanghai Expo
In its cross-media production "The Will to Build (Revival Version)" for Expo 2010 Shanghai China (Shanghai Expo), the acclaimed Theatre du Pif will present diverse views from people affected by Hong Kong's urban development.
"The Will to Build" is the first local piece of verbatim theatre that premiered at the Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival 2008.
"The Will to Build (Revival Version)" will re-invigorate and repackage material from the previous production for a Mainland audience as part of the HKSAR cultural programme for Shanghai Expo.
It is also the opening programme for Hong Kong Cultural Week at the 12th China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
Director and performer Ms Bonni Chan said: "For verbatim theatre, in-depth interviews are conducted and the writers have to convert the interview contents into a script.
"In 'The Will to Build', five key elements in people's daily lives, space, pace, functionality, spirituality and identity are explored.
"At the same time, the past, present and future of Hong Kong are examined through the life cycle of buildings."
Scores of people either involved in, or affected by, Hong Kong's urban planning and construction were interviewed for this verbatim theatre. They include property tycoons, construction workers, architects, planners, preservation activists, politicians, feng shui masters, former officials and local residents.
"Our objective is to present different opinions of the interviewees instead of telling one-sided stories," Ms Chan said.
"In our re-run, about one third of the content is brand new, including interviews with prominent people such as Ada Wong (former District Councillor) as well as a group of students living in Tin Shui Wai."
According to Ms Chan, each actor will adopt various styles, which are mostly minimalistic, to present different characters.
She said: "During the performance, some actors will even put on headphones to listen to the recording so that they can mimic vividly the tone, voice and accent of the interviewees."
Theatre du Pif was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1992 by Hong Kong's Bonnie Chan and Scotsman Sean Curran who relocated the Theatre to Hong Kong in 1995.
"The Will to Build" is a collaboration between Theatre du Pif and BURST TV, a multi-media artists collective based in London.
"The Will to Build (Revival Version)" will be performed in Cantonese and English with Chinese and English surtitles on September 24 and 25 at the Drama Theatre, Shanghai Grand Theatre.
To promote the concept of verbatim theatre, Theatre du Pif today (September 20) conducted a demonstration and sharing session on this genre at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This was part of the extension activities organised by the China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
This interactive activity, targeting college students, explored issues relating to urban space and the environment through video presentations, demonstrations and discussions. Conducted in English and Putonghua, the sharing session was attended by 320 participants.
Programme details and ticketing information are available under the Event Calendar section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk.
"The Will to Buildí]Revival Versioní^"
Date: September 24 and 25, 2010
Venue: Drama Theatre, Shanghai Grand Theatre
Length: Approx 1 hour 45 minutes
In Cantonese and English with Chinese and English surtitles
Ticket prices: RMB150, 120, 100, 80
Booking hotline: (86 21) 6272 0702
Online booking: www.festivalclub.org
Theatre du Pif (852) 2904 2030
The Centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival
(86 21) 6272 0440
Ends/Monday, September 20, 2010
"The Will to Build" is presented by Theatre du Pif to address the value of Hong Kong's built heritage.
Theatre du Pif brings to Shanghai its critically acclaimed production "The Will to Build (Revival Version)" as part of the HKSAR cultural programme for Shanghai Expo.