Speech by Ms Grace Lang (Programme Director of Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd) at the 2007 Festival Kick-off Press Conference
October 24th, 2006
Thirty-five years of experience consolidates the brand of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and pushes the Festival to new heights. In this special year we want to offer you exclusive projects and an exceptional combination of talents and extraordinary events.
Since 1997, the Festival has pioneered the way in mounting 12 international co-productions with 24 festivals, theatres and artists' companies, some of them still touring to great critical acclaim. This year our exclusive co-production is a creation by National Theatre Company of China (Beijing) and New National Theatre (Tokyo), with co-writers and co-directors Li Liuyi and Oriza Hirata. Together their production, Lost Village, unfolds untold stories between two countries which will mark the Centenary of Chinese theatre as well as the 35th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Acquiring exclusive programmes requires shrewdness, connections and patience. We have followed Sylvie Guillem for five years to realise Sacred Monsters; we took great efforts with Propeller, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Perth Festival to initiate the premiere overseas tour of Edward Hall's productions of Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew; and we have managed to bring the Asian premiere of Tim Robbins' latest triumph 1984 to our Festival.
There will be a platform for exceptional combinations of talents at the City Hall Concert Hall, the Festival's very first venue, which is known for its excellent acoustics. Three outstanding ensembles will perform there: the Asian Super Guitar Project with Eugene Pao (Hong Kong), Kazumi Watanabe (Japan) and Jack Lee (Korea); young award-winning cellist Zhu Lin and pianist Colleen Lee; and composer Keith Chan Fai-young and 12 film/video directors in 12 Faces of Woman.
Extraordinary events are the results of our curatorial focus. The world famous Artemis Quartet will present the complete Brahms string quartet cycle and Webern's brilliant quartet pieces in a distinguished evening of 130 minutes of music; 18 Chinese composers from different parts of the world will have their best works featured in seven events of the Festival; and Cantonese opera veterans Yau Sing-po and Law Kar-ying will reassess the classic Beijing opera Stealing the Imperial Horse, with a new script and a dynamic interpretation.
The Festival's artistic mission includes arts education. In 2007 the Festival also marks the 15th year of the Young Friends Scheme, our highly successful audience and educational development programme. A new Residency project, which we have just started, integrates the arts into classroom teaching by drawing on the experience of three local companies, two of whom - On & On Theatre Workshop and Shu Ning Presentation Unit - will produce commissioned work for this Festival. The schools' performances and exhibitions in January will precede the companies' performances in March, enabling both an in-depth and all-round arts experiences.
With 35 years of remembrance and challenges, we continue to support innovation and celebrate artistic excellence. Do come and join us at Festival time.
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