Concert in the Dark aims to promote understanding of the visually impaired

Lee Wing-sze

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 10:41pm

LIVE MUSIC SHOWS usually dazzle concertgoers with glitzy costumes, colourful lighting and eye-catching visual effects. But not at Concert in the Dark, a series of live shows literally staged in darkness. By abandoning the usual eye candy, the focus is shifted to the music.

Organised by the Dialogue in the Dark advocacy group for the blind, Social Ventures Hong Kong and local music production house People Mountain People Sea, the concerts are the world's only live music events held in total darkness.

Launched in 2010, Concert in the Dark is now an annual event, and it aims to promote a greater understanding of the visually impaired. This year's shows - which began yesterday and will run until August 11 at Kitec in Kowloon Bay - feature local singers including Hacken Lee Hak-kan, Hins Cheung King-hin, Eman Lam Yee-man, Kay Tse On-kei along with acclaimed blind Taiwanese musician Ricky Hsiao Huang-chi, singer-songwriter Yoyo Sham and her a cappella group Charatay, as well as a group of visually impaired singers.

All proceeds will go to Dialogue in the Dark. Audience members will be instructed to turn off all mobile devices and enter the concert hall in complete darkness, assisted by visually impaired guides.

Eman Lam was a performer at the first show in 2010, and is this year serving as a creative director, as well as a performer. "The first year was really new and fresh. It was an experiment. When you perform in the dark, you realise your voice is the focus of the audience."

The theme of this year's shows is "dreams", and this will be explored in the narration created by award-winning playwright Wong Wing-sze, and interpreted by actor Dayo Wong Chi-wah.

Wong Wing-sze recently visited Dialogue in the Dark's experiential exhibition hall in Mei Foo to experience complete darkness. "I felt scared. I had no idea what being in complete darkness was like," she says. "There is a beauty in darkness. Everyone is equal, as you can only experience the world through sound and touch."

After her visit, she completed the first draft of the narration. "As a somewhat eccentric person, I thought it would be exciting to tell a ghost story in the dark," says the playwright-actress, who is known for the dark humour of her plays such as My Grandmother's Funeral. But it was rejected by the show's directors.

So Wong took a straightforward approach to the narration. "Some visually impaired people reminded me that every word would enter the hearts of the audience. They said I should write something that helped release emotions which had been hidden in the world of daylight," she says. "In the dark, everything is more direct."

Hsiao hopes people will leave with a greater understanding of the blind community. "Take it as a learning experience. You will feel things that you've never experienced before. It may even change your life, and the way you look at other people," the Taiwanese says.


Concert in the Dark, August 8-9, 7.30pm, 10-11, 12pm, 3.30pm, 7.30pm, Rotunda 3, Kitec, 1 Trademart Drive. Kowloon Bay, HK$480-HK$1,500, HMV, tel: 9680 6054