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Gently does it: Class 7A’s latest drama daddi is a slice of reality

What Class 7A Drama Group’s latest work lacks in dramatic impact is more than made up for with down-to-earth story-telling, writes Vanessa Yung

 

THERE’S A WORLD OF difference between acting for a theatre audience and for the camera. And while Leung Shing-him, founder and artistic director of Class 7A Drama Group, prefers to recruit actors with stage training, he had no hesitation bringing on board veteran screen actor Liu Kai-chi for his latest production, daddi.

“Although Liu’s most active in the television and movie industry, he has been playing in theatre shows in the past few years,” says Leung. “I like hiswork, which is always sophisticated. He understands that in a theatrical show his emotion has to be real. He acts in an expressive but not exaggerated way.”

Liu, alongside actress Grace Yuen Wai-ying and director Terence Chang Thomp-kwan, was Leung’s first choice.

Because the last thing he wants for the down-to-earth script he penned, revolving around a two-hour conversation between a retiring school teacher and his soon-to-be-30 daughter, is actors who overact and a director who doesn’t understand the dynamics.

“I’d rather not do it than let an unsuitable cast ruin it,” says Leung.

Judging from how the cast reflects on his script, it seems his choice was ideal.

“Initially, I was confused with the very fragmentary script. I couldn’t figure out the storyline. It was almost like a housewife soap and all that repetitive fuss,” says Liu. “But eventually I started to appreciate its layering, which is what makes it beautiful. It’s like peeling an onion – you tear it off piece by piece before you get to the core.”

Feeling awkward and embarrassed at first, the father and daughter’s conversations start with the most trivial things, punctuated with occasional flashbacks such as the duo sheltering under the same raincoat when they were younger. As they talk more, one thing leads to another, and they end up discussing love.

Eventually, they pour their hearts out, discussing regrets and the meaning of life, with the daughter opening up about the problems she faces in her relationship. “It may seem ordinary at first, but it connects with everyone’s memory. It touches people’s hearts as the duo dig deeper,” says Chang.

“They become more and more confident about revealing their struggles from deep within and at the end they know each other a lot better. The problems they raised may not be solved, but it’s the sense of security that matters. It’s more about the knowledge that there’s always someone supporting you.”

Liu says: “It doesn’t lecture you on the importance of communication, but it is intertwined with some timeless philosophy on family relationships, which can be applied to different aspects of life.”

Do not expect unexpected twists and turns, or sophisticated props during the two-hour play. Written 17 years after Class 7A Drama Group’s debut show 73A, featuring the conversation of a mother and son during a ride to see their dying husband and father, Leung says he intentionally avoids including any dramatic incidents in daddi.

“It put my scriptwriting skills to the test as it is much more difficult to write a gripping script without dramatic touches.

The daughter is a mature woman as opposed to the rebellious university student who talks back all the time, and there is no misfortune of a dying father,” says Leung.

“But I figured it’s much more meaningful for them to get in-depth with the very practical stuff because it is what leads us to think more about life.

“We’ve tried numerous approaches and styles in our production over the years. But at the end of the day, what really matters is simply a good script with good actors.”

vanessa.yung@scmp.com

 

daddi, Kwai Tsing Theatre, Black Box Theatre, 12 Hing Ning Road, Kwai Chung, March 20-23, 8pm, March 22-23, 3pm. HK$220 Urbtix. Inquiries: 2268 7325

 

 

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