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A co-production of the HKAF and Singapore Repertory Theatre
Race, class and gender hierarchies fray, unravel and distort in this powerful retelling of August Strindberg’s 19th century classic, transported to a torrid night in 1940s Hong Kong. Co-produced by the HKAF and Singapore Repertory Theatre, writer Amy Ng’s English-language reinterpretation sees a rich British tycoon’s daughter pursue a risky ruinous romantic affair with her father’s driver.
Sex, power, money and race collide on a torrid night, as Strindberg’s theatre classic is transported to 1940s colonial Hong Kong in a must-see new production
Transplanted from the rural retreat of a 19th century Swedish country estate to colonial Hong Kong, theatre staple Miss Julie is reinvigorated with biting fresh perspective and regional flavour. Playwright Amy Ng chose 1949, an era defined by division and discriminatory hierarchies under British colonial rule, to reimagine August Strindberg’s classic naturalistic 1888 work.
Co-produced by the HKAF and Singapore Repertory Theatre, and directed by Singaporean Ng Choon Ping, this English-language retelling casts the original text’s class struggles alongside the racist realities of the colonial era in the immediate post-war period. The old power structures are fraying but still predominant when, after almost four years of brutal Japanese occupation, the city is returned to its jaded European rulers. Newly defeated and vulnerable, the British Empire’s earlier arrogance and prestige has faded and tattered.
Ng’s retelling plays on these tensions, casting the two servants as a Chinese migrant, John, and his fiancée, Christine, the family cook. The titular Julie is a rich British tycoon’s daughter; over a charged festive holiday, she pursues an ultimately ruinous relationship with John, her father’s driver.
This must-see play marks the only live English-language drama at this year’s HKAF, with an international cast from the UK and Singapore, and represents an important collaboration between two regional talents who have notably divided their time between the UK and the former British colonies they call home. An evident talent to watch, Hong Kong-born, London-raised playwright Amy Ng has already received important commissions from the UK’s National Theatre Studio and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Ng Choon Ping is an award-winning director based in London; his previous work The Truth at the Singapore Repertory Theatre was a sell-out hit.
Ng Choon Ping