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Edward Lam to interpret "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" from a female perspective

     Edward Lam, the most audaciously creative director in contemporary Chinese theatre, will collaborate with sought-after Hong Kong playwright Wong Wing-sze again to stage "What is Success?" in January.

     "What is Success?" is the third of Lam's interpretations of the four great classics of Chinese literature, following "What Is Man?" and "What Is Fantasy?" In a departure from the conventional depiction of male heroes, Lam transforms Jia Baoyu's 12 beauties into heroines, and interprets anew the macho story of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" with a female-dominated cast. Whereas men donned armour in ancient battles, the "qipao" is the female armour of today. Lam intersects the image of the conventional woman with the life-and-death struggles of the male world, using his signature subversive-yet-enlightening style to usher in a theatrical experience which is at once rational and aesthetic.

     As in the original, Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Sun Quan form the central axis of the drama. Guided by these three characters on stage, the audience enters the world of the "Three Kingdoms" with a feminine twist, though their circumstances contrast greatly with those of their modern counterparts. In the great episodes of history, who will be remembered in the future? Whose name will last forever? Lam analyses the central characters afresh from a psychological perspective – Liu Bei, who takes it upon himself to achieve his grand enterprise, is the "superego"; Cao Cao, who aims to grab what he likes is the "id"; and Sun Quan, a youth in quest of the self, is the "ego".

     Always daring to re-invent the classics, Lam takes 12 well-known chapters from the original including "Oath of the Peach Garden", "Cao Cao Discusses Heroes" and "Zhuge Liang Sacrifices to the Winds" and re-interprets them in a modern context. Using the historical ambiance of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", he touches on the importance modern man places on self-esteem and its associated brittleness. Lam says, "When we find one less 'like' on Facebook, or no one forwards our Weibo message, we feel bad. Through these platforms we try hard to show and assert our own existence, yet we are highly vulnerable." Wong Wing-sze adds that the production will be a "mischievously playful yet heartbreaking epic poem of theatre".

     In addition to Lam and Wong the strong creative team includes literature consultant Yang Chao, choreographer Yuri Ng, composer Chen Chien-chi and lighting designer Billy Chan. Performers include Chu Hung-chang, Ethan Wei, Shi Yi-hsiu, Chou Heng-yin, Hsieh Ying-hsun, Lu Chia-hsin, Angie Wang, Rosa Maria Velasco, Tiffany Pan, Joanne Deng, Chao Yi-lan, Maria Yang, Patty Chu, Hsu Nai-han, Kanny Lai, Rebecca Yip and Liao Hao-min.

     Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and produced by the Edward Lam Dance Theatre, "What is Success?" will be performed in Putonghua, with Chinese surtitles, at 7.30pm on January 11 and 12, 2013 (Friday and Saturday) and at 2.30pm on January 12 and 13, 2013 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre. Tickets priced at $120, $220, $320 and $420 are now available at URBTIX outlets, on the Internet and by credit card telephone booking. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients are available on a first-come, first-served basis.) A maximum discount of 20 per cent is offered for the group booking package. A post-performance talk will be held after the January 13 performance. The production may contain coarse language and scenes of an adult nature.

     For programme enquiries, please call 2268 7325 or visit Ticketing enquiries can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Tickets can also be booked online at

Ends/Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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