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West Kowloon Cultural District

Hong Kong arts hub reaches out for wider audience with live streaming of Greek tragedy

West Kowloon Cultural District taps into growing internet trend with its rooftop staging of classic play by Sophocles

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 October, 2016, 5:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 October, 2016, 10:46am

The West Kowloon Cultural District is tapping on the trend of internet live streaming to cultivate a new audience for highbrow arts programmes ahead of the opening of the three major performing arts venues on the site.

The arts hub will kick off its online experiment this week with the live streaming of an outdoor performance of Antigone, followed by a dance event in February and a Chinese opera showcase in May.

The cultural district will be among the first in Asia to live stream theatre performances on the internet, which has become a trend among not just young people but also media professionals.

Louis Yu Kwok-lit, executive director for performing arts at West Kowloon Cultural District, said: “The rise of live streaming such as live shows on YouTube and Facebook has posed a question on the future of performing arts. Is the internet our friend or foe? How can we make the most out of this trend to increase audienceship?”

Antigone, which will take place on the rooftop of the West Kowloon onsite temporary office, is a contemporary interpretation of the 2,500-year-old Greek tragedy penned by Sophocles. It will be performed by the Baiguang Theatre Studio from Beijing under the direction of acclaimed Hong Kong theatre director Tang Shu-wing.

The play, the third tragedy from the Theban Plays Trilogy, depicts title character Antigone’s battle in defiance of the law to seek justice for her brother. It will be set against the sunset of Victoria Harbour and the cultural district’s neighbouring ICC Tower.

A hundred guests will be invited to watch the show on the ground and live streaming on the arts hub’s YouTube channel will run from November 4 to 6 from 4.45pm to 6.15pm. Those who miss the live streaming will still be able to catch the show on demand until November 16.

Theatre shows have been showcased outside of traditional auditoriums in recent years. Some have been filmed and shown at cinemas – the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet in London, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is still playing at cinemas in Hong Kong.

But internet live streaming has taken this further. Music concerts were among the first to go on live streaming. Yu pointed out that a number of internet platforms had been offering live streaming of classic music performances. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe also live streams some shows, he added.

The Xiqu Centre will open in West Kowloon in 2018, followed by Freespace in 2019 and the Lyric Theatre in 2022.

“Since we are still building our venues, this is the right moment for us to think about how to plan our events and programmes in future,” Yu said.