A song and dance about village life

A performance troupe is hoping to make a difference in the fight for indigenous lifestyles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 4:41am

A group of artists is urging the government to think twice before uprooting rural communities to meet housing demand.

The artists from Pants Theatre Production have created a show dedicated to the redevelopment of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen, which was demolished in 2011.

While writing the script they interviewed more than 20 villagers. Some have already moved to public housing, but others are awaiting relocation - living in temporary buildings while waiting for a new Tsoi Yuen Tsuen to be built in Pat Heung.

The group also talked to activists who helped the villagers fight for compensation.

"I felt the impact of humanity when I listened to their stories," said artistic director Wu Hoi-fai. "What they lost might seem physical, but it's an intangible thing between them and their land."

Wu spoke of an old villager who had to leave behind the trees she had planted when she gave birth to her children.

"She'll never be compensated, no matter what you give her," he said.

Actor and producer Desmond Lai Ho-yin said: "They cherish their memories.

"While not all of them farmed, they cherish the times they lived in their old homes."

One man missed the fact that he could repair everything at his home with his welding equipment and drill.

Now, living in a flat in Tin Shui Wai, there is not even enough space for him to keep his tools at home.

The government decided in 2008 to relocate people in Tsoi Yuen Tsuen to make way for a depot for the cross-border express railway project.

As more new town development projects are mooted, Wu hopes the government will consider alternative options before wiping village communities off the map.

"It's sad how those in power evaluate plans only in terms of money and the practical details of accommodating those who are displaced," he said.

"But non-material things cannot be restored."

The free one-hour Pants Theatre Production performance features five actors, each playing several characters.

It will run from November 2 for three consecutive weekends in the afternoon at various locations around the city.