The Hong Kong Repertory Theatre (HKRep) will kick off its 35th season next month with an eclectic line-up that includes a sequel to their 1992 box office smash hit I Have a Date With Spring, an all-original, all-local Black Box Theatre series, and the Asian premiere of the Cantonese adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play Red.
The HKRep will also take a new work, The Last Supper, to the Guangzhou Opera House in September, though there won't be any joint productions with mainland theatre companies this year because of schedule clashes, according to the troupe's artistic director, Anthony Chan Kam-kuen.
'But I hope we now have a balanced season of world and local classics, new and revived works, original dramas and adaptations,' he says.
Chan is pleased to have secured the right to stage the Cantonese adaptation of American writer John Logan's Red, which won the Tony for best play in 2010. Set in a New York studio in the late 1950s, the two-man bio-drama centres on Mark Rothko, one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, who at that time was working on a commissioned series of paintings for the new Four Seasons restaurant.
'This piece is very contemporary ... it explores the complex relationship between art and commerce and asks where you draw the line; it's a debate that is still ongoing today the world over,' says Chan, who is also a playwright. His new drama, A Bowlful of Kindness, will open the season on May 12.
The original cast of Raymond To Kwok-wai's I Have a Date With Spring - Lo Koon-lan, Alice Lau Nga-lai, Louisa So Yuk-wa and Fung Wai-hang - will return for I Have a Date With Autumn, a drama set in the 'golden era' of Canto-pop in the 1980s, headlined by singer Hins Cheung King-hin.
Playwright Paul Poon Wai-sum will team up with HKRep's resident director, Roy Szeto Wai-cheuk, to tackle the issue of corruption in The Emperor, His Mom, a Eunuch and a Man, a play set during Emperor Tongzhi's reign in the Qing dynasty.
'Poon has a unique writing style; I can never write like him. Instead of telling a tale of corruption in a straightforward narrative, he will take a more quirky and surrealistic approach,' says Chan.
All five works to be staged at its 297 square metre Black Box Theatre in Sheung Wan, which underwent a HK$400,000 renovation last year, will be original and local. Among them, The Cell was written by Yau Ting-fai and Blue Danube by Poon Pik-wan, both HKRep actors.