Liao's book hits the stage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 September, 2003, 12:00am

With Wong Kar-wai's adaptation of the graphic novel Sound of Colours still some time away from reaching the sliver screen, you can in the meantime enjoy the theatre version of Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao Fu-bin's book.


A production will be staged in Macau at the end of this year: Sound of Colors - Jimmy's Subway Book, a Musical Journey, an adapted musical first staged in Taipei in July, will be performed at the Grand Auditorium of the Macao Cultural Centre from December 30 to January 1.


Directed by Taiwanese theatre artist Miguel Li, the story portrays the journey of a blind girl (to be played by Taiwanese singer-songwriter Cheer Chen Chi-chen) in the subway on her 15th birthday.


Like the original illustrated book, there will be different colourful and fancy backdrops as the main character passes through different stations.


Liao thinks the stage play, which received encouraging responses in Taiwan, is a dream come true. 'It's a big surprise and really touching,' the author said.


'The theatre version, with lots of imagination, is even more impressive than the book.'


The 45-year-old author created the book in 2000 as he was recovering from leukaemia and felt himself entering a new stage of life. 'Most of the contents in the book are the reflections of my feelings at that moment,' the illustrator said.


Director Li thinks the play is more like a sharing between friends, saying it is not an experimental production.


He picked Chen to play the blind girl not just because of her refreshing appearance and voice, he said.


'This is a story about courage. It would be great to look for someone who knows about fear to play this character,' he said.


'We thought Chen's fear of acting on the stage would give her an advantage in interpreting the character.'


Chen admits that the production is a big challenge, but also views it as a breakthrough in her career.


'I used to sing songs written by myself, and everything would be under my control. But this time, I have to try to collaborate with other people and play someone else,' she said.


The production was the most torturous experience of her life so far, she said.


'My mind was always very tense during the rehearsals as well as the actual performance. It's much more torturing than producing my own record,' she said.


'There is a fear in me towards acting, it's something not natural. I just couldn't act in the way a professional actor can.'


She recalled that after the first show, she burst into tears as she left the stage.


'I'd been very nervous for every minute. There was no time for me to cry until the first show ended,' she said.


Sound of Colors - Jimmy's Subway Book, A Musical Journey. Grand Auditorium of the Macao Cultural Centre, December 30, 2003 to January 1, 2004. Tickets at MOP 280, 180 and 120. For reservations call the 24-hour hotline 7171 7171. For special hotel/ferry ticket packages contact Gray Line Tours at 2367 0082. There will be a meet-the-artists session after the first show, a countdown for the New Year's Eve show and a New Year's gift for the audience at the last show.