Theatre group rides wave of 3-D sex live on stage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am


If the silver-screen version of 3-D sex was a flop for you, head to Discovery Bay this month for a real-life adults-only show by the same author who inspired the movie - and all for the price of a cinema ticket.

While the 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy movie has topped Avatar for opening-day earnings in Hong Kong, the movie has attracted much criticism for being too violent and far-removed from the original story that it claims to be based on, Li Yu's The Carnal Prayer Mat.

A local theatre group, Not So Loud, staged another one of Li's works at the Fringe Club in Central last November, and this month the group has decided to ride the wave of 3-D porn with a re-run of the play, this time at the Discovery College Theatre.

Ordained by Heaven is a comedy that features plenty of sex but the director Tom Hope says it's not just about the titillation. 'Li Yu's fooling around with Buddhist theology and teachings, which is what he does in The Carnal Prayer Mat, a famous comic-erotic novel,' he said.

For Hope's production, Li's original work was translated by Martin Merz and Jane Pang and the prose was reconfigured by Hope into iambic pentameters, the style Shakespeare adopted for most of his works.

The story is about an ugly man who marries three women so he can have a son, but the wives all detest their new husband.

'These wives are all confronting their destiny and it's based around this Chinese saying, 'pretty face, sorry fate' where these women have married an ugly guy. It's Beauty and the Beast crossed with Taming of the Shrew with Chinese characteristics, all dressed up as a Jerry Springer chat show,' Hope said.

A star of the two-hour show will be Ghaffar Pourazar, an Iranian-born British-raised 49-year-old man who fell in love with Beijing opera after seeing a performance in London when he was 32.

Within a few months, he had moved to Beijing to join the troupe and now speaks fluent Putonghua.

Pourazar arrives in Hong Kong this week to give workshops about Beijing opera for local teachers, but he will wear a different mask when he takes to the stage to play three characters in Hope's production.

His love for Beijing opera stemmed from an inherent love for drawing cartoons: 'It just so happened that the different elements of Beijing opera connected to my hobby. This incredible singing, dancing, acting and acrobatics and how it connected to being a cartoonist.

'I was always dealing with human movement and I had searched Indian dance, African and European forms but my search stopped with the Beijing opera.'

But his quest almost failed when, after seeing his first performance and wanting to know more, he was refused entry backstage. When he overheard one of the female performers asking for a glass of hot water, he helped her because no one else could understand her request at the London theatre. The rest is history.

Now, he is passionate about spreading the word on Beijing opera, touring the world to talk about the art form, even giving a talk in Iran.

'I go anywhere I'm invited and I've developed my own technique where I try and find a bridge to teach people about Beijing opera,' he said.

Pourazar is now working on a Beijing opera-style production for the Dr Jane Goodall Institute that will be a musical based on the famous anthropologist's life.

Ordained by Heaven will run from May 18 to 21.