31 March, 2014
The Liberal Art University in Hong Kong
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On 6 March, more than 700 Lingnan students, staff, guests and members of the public came on campus to enjoy excerpts of Cantonese opera classic The Purple Hairpin, performed by rising stars Ling-yan, Samantha Chan Chak-lui, Leung Wai-hong and Karen Wang Kit-ching, which marked the opening of the fourth Lingnan Arts Festival.

Since its debut in 1957, the libretto of The Purple Hairpin has been revised and some original ideas of its playwright, the late Mr Tong Dik-sang, have been lost. This performance was an attempt to restore the opera classic to its original. Some lines are thus different from those in the greatly popular album version performed by Yam Kim-fai, Pak Suet-sin and other leading artists in 1966.

Following the opening performance, Ms Bellini Yu Guy-tse, Artist-in-Resident of Lingnan University, inspired students to ponder humanity at her public seminar entitled “LEFT” on 14 March.

Instead of giving a lecture to the audience, she began by inviting each attendee to pick up a piece of paper and/or an object related to some news items that had hit the headlines, including the 11 March earthquake in Japan, 12 May earthquake of Sichuan, alleged dog execution of Jang Song-taek in North Korea and the hegemony of property developers in Hong Kong. All the participants were then blindfolded, awaiting Ms Yu to call their name, take away their eye mask and ask them to read the sentence on paper. The participants were also asked to share their feelings when blindfolded. As a left-hander, Ms Yu said “LEFT” points to those who are left behind or marginalised as minority in society. This group exercise was meant to inspire students to step into other people’s shoes and think about what can be done in the face of natural disasters or social turmoil.

A social sciences graduate of Lingnan, Ms Yu obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts, co-offered by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University and the Hong Kong Art School, in 2011. She has been working in the field of rehabilitation and employing art as a rehabilitative tool.

On 19 March, award-winning theatre director and educator Mr Tang Shu-wing shared his insights on and passion for “Physical Theatre as an Innovation to Traditional Theatre” at the Fong Yim Fun Distinguished Lecture in Chinese Cultural Studies.

Language has been the most dominant medium of expression in theatre, as a performing art, for its accuracy and easy comprehension. However, human communication did not begin with the use of language. In the long, distant past before language came into shape, early human beings communicated with a series of body gestures and movements such as moving from one location to another, limb movements, facial expressions, eye contacts, breathing, making sounds and percussions with different parts of the body. “Compared to language, these body expressions are more abstract and inaccurate, and depend on the audience to decipher them. But the energy disseminated through these movements can hardly be substituted by language,” Mr Tang said.

His passion for and tireless exploration of physical theatre are rooted from his concern for the future of Hong Kong theatre. “Cantonese is our mother tongue. No matter how hard we try, we can never speak English or Putonghua as good as native speakers do. Re-discovering the forgotten body in theatre to overcome the language barrier, therefore, may enable Hong Kong theatre to go international,” Mr Tang concluded.

A renowned theatre director and drama educator, Mr Tang Shu-wing has been working in the theatre since 1992. He has taught at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and served as dean of its School of Drama. From 2011 onwards, Mr Tang decided to devote himself to the stage, exploring new theatre directions with actors and his crew at the Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, and merging them with his teaching and research. He was conferred an honorary fellowship by Lingnan University in 2013.

On 27 March afternoon, Chinese performance painter Mr Huang Fengrong ignited the excitement of about 100 students, staff and visitors at Wing On Plaza with his spectacular performance that blended rock & roll music, disco dance and painting. In a few minutes he followed the musical beats, took some dancing steps and turned splashes of random colours into portraits of Bruce Lee, Michael Jackson and Albert Einstein. He also used glue and sparkling chalk dust to make a portrait of Prof Grace Lau, Academic Dean of Faculty of Arts.

This year, Lingnan Arts Festival presented a diverse programme of cultural performances, film screenings, art exhibitions, seminars and workshops that lasted for a full month, showcasing Lingnan’s liberal arts education distinguished by the best of Chinese and Western civilisations.