Ten years on
A group of young people will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the handover by staging a performance that reflects the changes in their lives over the past decade.
The drama group, Ageneration, has been performing and conducting drama workshops at social centres, on campuses and on the street since 2003.
Their latest show, Ageneration with a Generation, was produced with less than HK$2,000. This is a meagre sum compared to the HK$90 million the government will be spending on its celebration programme, which includes an extravagant fireworks display over Victoria Harbour.
But the play, which involves few props and stage effects, speaks volumes about what Hong Kong people have gone through since 1997.
'Is it [the past decade] really worth celebrating?' asked Fan Lap-hin, a member of Ageneration.
'What has happened over the past 10 years? What were we like 10 years ago?'
A decade ago, many members of Ageneration - now in their 20s and early 30s - had just finished school. It was a prosperous time and many of their classmates landed good jobs and were leading affluent lives.
'But we didn't choose that path, and we soon left our stable jobs. Each of our stories has something special, and by putting our experiences on stage we hope to reflect the changes in society as well as what we did to cope with them,' said Fan.
Another member, Jeff Kwong Chun-kit, graduated with a marketing degree and found a job as a management trainee.
But after witnessing the plight of factory workers on the mainland, he quit a month later.
'I realised that the prosperity of Hong Kong people is built on the suffering of others,' said Kwong.
Au Yeung Tung, one of the younger members of the group, could not find a decent job after graduation. As a young man who started working during the economic downturn, Au Yeung first worked in a publishing house. His monthly salary was HK$4,000, and he had to work from 9am to 10pm.
'People have no time left after work. I feel that Hong Kong has been changing for the worse over the past 10 years. People like me are being exploited, and resources are given to the upper class.'
The first part of the show comprises solo performances inspired by the actors' experiences and their views on society.
For example, Kwong's piece consists of old pop songs with new lyrics he has written that express concern over a variety of issues, ranging from youth unemployment and religion to universal suffrage.
There are also some intimate pieces, such as the one by Leung Wai-man - a meditation on the female body from a woman's perspective.
The piece stems from the performer's experience of an abortion when she was 19.
The second half of the performance will take the form of playback theatre, in which audiences can tell their life stories and the performers will act them out.
The actors see the interaction as a means of empowering the audience - a reminder that they are not passive spectators in life and that every story has its value.
But above all, it can free individuals of their constraints.
'Young people today are very smart. They might sometimes act badly, but they have broader vision and a better sense of equality than the older generation,' said Fan.
'Through our performance, we want to ask teachers and parents: have we given young people enough room to create a new world?'
The show takes place on May 13, at 7pm, in Studio 5 of Loft Stage, 8A and B, Wah Mow Factory Building, 202-204 Choi Hung Road, Diamond Hill. Tickets cost HK$30. Call 9197 7811 or 9730 1754 for reservations.