Three years ago, Matthew Gregory decided to bring the world of theatre and performing arts to the young people of Hong Kong. The qualified English and drama teacher set up the International Faust Youth Theatre and initially operated from home. Today, his
Q: Do you find it overwhelming working with large groups of children?
A: I'm not going to lie. It's a challenge, but definitely not overwhelming. The thing about dealing with large groups of children in a big show is to channel their excitement in the right direction. Actually, working with children is better than working with adults. No doubt about that.
Q: So how do you channel their excitement in the right direction?
A: First, I've got to know who's doing what and when. There is a lot of planning, scaffolding and paperwork. The [production] team has to have the same idea. Rehearse [the children] separately and then bring them together. We also have to be up front with the kids and we don't want them unaware of what is going on . . . we are very open with them.
Q: Any major crisis so far?
A: We had someone catching measles [before a performance] but they carried on. It was a heart-stopping moment and I wasn't very sympathetic . . . but that person wanted to do it especially after such a lot of work had been put into it.
Q: What motivates you then?
A: This is going to sound a bit corny, but I like working with and directing small groups [of children]. It's great when you have rehearsals, it's tough work for a few weeks and then they get it. That's great. To see them on stage, without prompts, they are better prepared than adult shows. And when you see the final performances, it's great. [Faust] is something I'd started and this is what I want to do and I have many ideas.
Q: Do you work with both local and expatriate children?
A: I think that is quite an important question as it is more relevant here than anywhere else in the world. No, we don't put them into categories. They have to speak English, of native standard, but we look at children in terms of . . . if they want to do it well, they will do it well. We work with children from 16 different nationalities from 23 different schools.
Q: So what have you in store for summer?
A: There are two key [events] in the next three months to round off this season. We have the Faust Festival at the Fringe with shows [over] five days.
It's not just for children but shows performed by children for children, by adults for children and by adults for adults. This is the new direction. In July and August we run different courses for three hours each day for a week. They'll [students] workshop and by the end [of the course] there will be a half-hour performance for friends and parents.
The Faust Festival 2001. June 18-22 at the Fringe Club. $60-120. Tickets: 3128 8288 or Ticketek.