It's a treasure trove of trash

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 1994, 12:00am

IT did not take associate designer and technical director Mort Clark long to get down to gutter level and sort out the Hong Kong trash from the treasure.

Paying meticulous attention to detail, Mr Clark searched out some typical household rubbish such as tofu packets and Dutch Lady bottles - lap sap that Hong Kong people could identify with for the local Cats set.

The boss of production company Key Largo, Mr Clark is under contract to the Really Useful Company working on Cats .

''I have been with Cats since 1983 and, while by now the routine is familiar, it is still a constant battle to ensure the show presents well in each venue,'' he said.

The rubbish dump stage set is John Napier's design, but Mr Clark adapts it to suit the venue and some variations do occur.

The touring version in Britain has a staircase for when Grizabella ascends to the Heaviside Layer. In Hong Kong, she is taken up in a pod with flashing lights.

In Sydney, the rubbish dump extended right around to the back of the theatre so the audience were virtually sitting amongst the trash. The touring version is cut back, but all the changes are authorised by John Napier.

It is certainly the most valuable little rubbish tip in the world. The Hong Kong version cost more than A$2 million (about HK$10 million).

''It might look like rubbish, but everything is three times larger-than-life and handbuilt,'' said Mr Clark.

''The big shirt is hand stitched and the packages are all photographically produced,'' said Mr Clark.

He said the Lyric Theatre was a perfect theatre to work in, being functional and having a permanent staff ''who know what they are doing''.

Mr Clark overseas the light and sound, wardrobe and wigs departments with support from the unit touring company which comprises 14 staff and a team to move and manage the show.

''It is a big show to move,'' said Mr Clark.

For its Hong Kong season, Cats needed a specially chartered Boeing 747 jumbo to transport 50 tonnes of scenery, costumes and technical equipment.

''It takes about four days to set up the rubbish dump,'' said Mr Clark who has managed many of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's productions.

Why does he get the contracts? ''Because I am the best,'' Mr Clark assured.

And he is not talking rubbish.