'It is very difficult to run a theatre company in Hong Kong,' wrote award-winning stage actor and stand-up comedian Cheung Tat-ming in The Bounds And The Boundless: 1993-2003, which celebrates Theatre Ensemble's 10th anniversary. 'Running a theatre company involves so many headaches: the long-term running costs, the audience attendance rate ... but most of all, the creativity that one must keep flowing! 'That explains why ... there are only a few theatre companies [in Hong Kong].' So just how have Theatre Ensemble's Jim Chim Shui-man and fellow founder and associate artistic director Olivia Yan Wing-pui managed to keep their company afloat for not just a couple of years, but a whole decade? 'Setting up and running a theatre company was what we had decided to do and that simply became part of our lives,' explains Chim. 'For us, having to be creative isn't something that we dread or have to worry about because we are driven by it. We find so much pleasure in creativity that the enjoyment grew and accumulated over the past 10 years.' Some of you are probably more familiar with their pantomimes and box-office hits such as Oops!, Belle The Witch Is Gone!, Hugga Hugga Teddy Bear, Aiyah!, Superboy and Kid Kid Show. But the theatre company has also produced ground-breaking pieces that have won them critical acclaim and awards. For example, The Game, which is inspired by Eugene Ionesco's absurd work The Chairs, won the two artists the 9th Hong Kong Drama Award: Best Actor and Best Actress (Comedy/Farce) in 1999. Other than Chim and Yan, Theatre Ensemble has two other full-time actors - Wong Wing-sze and Tyson Chak. Since last year it has been one of three government-subsidised professional theatre companies. Education is also a major part of their mission. Last weekend saw the end of its first Pleasure-In-Play (PIP) workshop series. It aimed at not only providing professional and student actors extra training, but also using their unique theatrical techniques to enrich their lifestyle. Their 'depressurising' workshop entitled Laugh Till You Drop, for instance, uses the art of laughter/laughing to make participants feel more positive and happy about their lives. 'These workshops [in Cantonese] were really fun,' says Chim. 'What we taught was functional. And to see people of all ages starting to loosen up ... I found the experience most satisfying and rewarding.' Since most participants in this PIP workshop asked for it to be a 'continuous exercise', Chim says he will make it a regular programme at the exhibition gallery in Kwai Tsing Theatre next year. Looking ahead, Theatre Ensemble will be taking The Game to Japan, at the prestigious New National Theatre, and Novel Hall in Taiwan early next year. It will also stage a small-scale stage production and a series of post-performance workshops in April. As a regular of the International Arts Carnival, organised annually by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Chim and Yan have already started working on their new children's show for next summer. That will be followed by their Christmas offering. Those of you who are looking forward to their pantomime this Christmas will be disappointed though, because there won't be any. 'We are taking a break this year,' Chim explains. 'We need that to work on our new materials for next year's show. Every now and then you need to take stock and re-charge.'