Edward Lam is not a man who is afraid to confront taboos. But as if one issue is not enough, the controversial choreographer is now combining the subjects of homosexuality, education, theatre and religion in one production. The tantalising name alone - Hot And Spicy Acts Of The Apostles - is probably sufficient to attract threats of hell and damnation, but Lam, who last year received criticism over a production poster of a naked man with computer-deleted genitals, is undeterred. 'When you come into an Edward Lam theatre you know you are going to be confronted by sensitive issues. I am not going to tell you how to think, just 'please think',' he says. 'I never try to be controversial. But I see things that not a lot of people agree with and I have a right to express what I think and believe. 'Just look at how Jesus was criticised for saying what he believed in. 'Last year, when there was controversy over the poster I suffered a lot from people pointing fingers at me.' Lam, who splits his time between Hong Kong and London, has worked on Apostles for only a month but has planned it for some time; it started when he was reading the Bible. 'It is a fascinating book, a great soap opera, but when I was reading the acts of the Apostles I started thinking about their relationship with Jesus,' says Lam, who was raised a Christian but no longer practises. 'I have had a lot of mentors over the years, people who have inspired and taught me. There was one particular man in the theatre. Our relationship was not easy but he taught me a lot. 'Once I started my company, I wanted to spread his ideas; it was like a mission.' The relationship between Jesus and the 12 Apostles drew Lam to see parallels between religion and education; between people who teach and people who spread their vision. Apostles is not specifically about Jesus' followers but about the classroom; about the relationship between age and youth, wisdom and youth, man and boy. 'In the piece, you see a performer who always gets his lines from someone else on stage. He opens his mouth but the words come from someone else; a metaphor about how in theatre it is not the actor but the scriptwriter who is speaking.' So it was not the Apostle but Jesus speaking, not the pupil but the teacher. Lam uses his dancers in what he calls 'choreographic theatre' - a mixture of speech, movement and dance, a style very much of his own making. Lam has no dance or theatre training. 'The dancers come on to the stage and do a bit of walking, a bit of posing, a bit of gesturing. They are like moving pictures. 'I don't ask my performers to express their emotions. I like things to come out in a more indirect way so the audience has space to interpret what is happening. 'People have said that I am a bit greedy. I want people to leave the theatre with a heavy stomach. Mentally, they should feel very satisfied. 'That's why I tell as many stories as possible. I want the audience to make choices. 'I am trying to liberate the audience from passive viewing.' If this all sounds confusing, Lam assures it is not and says it is his role as director to keep the audience's attention for the three hours of Apostles, without a break. Lam, who set up the avant-garde group Zuni Icosahedron with local choreographer Danny Yeung, established his own company, Edward Lam Dance Theatre, a few years ago. He moved to London in 1990 and returns there later this year to stage an Institute of Contemporary Arts and to develop a project in Manchester. His work overseas rarely has dialogue: although his English is excellent, he does not feel he understands the society well enough to use language. In Apostles, some of the 16 amateur dancers speak in Cantonese but appreciation of the work is not dependent on understanding dialogue. At home in Hong Kong, he feels society is changing but he is not optimistic about the future. 'The Chinese here are already losing international influences and returning to a more fatalistic way of Chinese living,' he says. 'People are conforming to what they believe is expected of them in a way that didn't exist in the 1970s and 1980s when there was more intellectual space.' Lam has noticed local audiences are getting younger. 'It is to do with the topics I choose; I like to speak to people who have fresher minds. 'Attitudes have changed a great deal. There are so many Hollywood blockbusters about homosexuality; look at The Birdcage, for example. 'Filmmakers in Hong Kong follow Hollywood; the Chinese see gay movies and make them too. 'Look at The Wedding Banquet and Farewell My Concubine. 'It's as if the popularity of homosexuality as a consumer product has tended to remould society's attitudes, but it's not a revolution. 'I try not to be too pessimistic because I believe the change in fashions could lead to a change in tides,' Lam says. Lam says Apostles is not a 'gay play' but about boys and men in school and therefore has an all-male cast. He is staging Once A Princess, Always A Princess Part II in November with female dancers, and makes no attempt to have gay casts. In the meantime, he is having a book of short stories, Too Many Men, Too Little Time, published and is working on new shows. Whatever Lam's future, the one thing that can be guaranteed is it will be hot and spicy. As he says of Apostles, 'I like to put things together and see if it can become an emotional rollercoaster.'