Letters to the editor, January 20, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2016, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2016, 4:59pm

Local theatre faces many challenges

I refer to Michael Harley’s letter, “Bracing for deluge of tired revivals” (January 11).

Appreciating Shakespeare’s plays in the UK (where Shakespeare was born) and in Hong Kong (where English is a second if not third language) no doubt is a very different experience. The number and range of regular theatre-goers make a huge difference.

Many Hong Kong theatre-goers prefer overseas theatre productions, which usually are richer in content and more original. The staging, acting and costumes are more detailed. But I have to admit that I have walked out of poorly performed UK productions in spite of the price I paid for those tickets.

Local theatre groups are not necessarily less professional. However, they face more limitations when staging a Shakespeare play.

Language is one of the barriers. The language standard of translators, actors and audience all matter. They all affect the outcome and review. Various translated plays are put on each year. However, the audience will not know if the play has been translated literally or adapted to local context, unless they are familiar with the plays.

Personally, I prefer an adapted one as it requires knowledgeable and worldly translators to recreate the plot. There is a lot of room for the audience to recall the original Shakespeare version as they watch the local adaptation.

The beauty of this kind of production is that it creates “interaction” between the playwright and the audience. However, the standard of the play depends hugely on the experience of the translators. It is true that the quality varies a lot.

In Hong Kong, funding requirements also limit creativity. Performance art and the theatre are not mainstream in Hong Kong. Hence, most local theatre groups have to rely on government subsidies to survive.

In order to secure the subsidies, many of them offer matinees, pre-show workshops or post-show talks to local schools. Some of these are on-site, while some of them are held at schools to encourage participation. The performances are usually adjusted to make them more accessible for younger audiences.

It may be true that the local Shakespeare productions cannot be compared with those in the UK. However, the comparison is neither fair nor practical.

Eva Pang, Tseung Kwan O

Don’t miss this Shakespeare revival

Much that Michael Harley says might be true (“Bracing for deluge of tired revivals”, January 11), but this should not deter anyone from going to see the Royal Shakespeare Company productions at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in March!

Unlike Mr Harley, I saw Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at the Theatre Royal in Bath, which, like the Lyric Theatre at the Academy for Performing Arts, does not have the facilities of Stratford. Nevertheless, they were stunning productions with some outstanding performances, particularly from Antony Sher as Falstaff.

Henry V was not included in the Bath calendar, but I intend to see it at the Lyric. I might even be persuaded to see Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 again!

The opportunity to see all three Royal Shakespeare Company productions, on consecutive days, is an experience that serious theatre-goers, particularly lovers of Shakespeare, should not miss.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Teach children to spend sensibly

I refer to the article, “Hong Kong children can now learn about financial literacy before it’s too late” (January 4). Most Hong Kong parents give their children pocket money. However, if the children do not learn how to spend their money sensibly, they may become spendthrifts.

Therefore, parents should teach their children to manage their pocket money well and learn to save. Real-life examples are very important.

As the Lunar New Year approaches, parents should take this valuable opportunity to teach their children to spend their money rationally. Guide children into thinking about whether something they want to buy is a “want” or a “need”, so they don’t spend too much on unnecessary items.

We should teach children about financial management before it’s too late.

Melody Ho, Tseung Kwan O

Let HK enjoy more of these satirical shows

TV Most, a new website and social media platform, creates satirical fictional characters based on real people and politics, and is popular with the younger generation. Its award show held earlier this month, an alternative award show for satirical songs, went viral in local social media and even made headlines in the traditional media (“Award show celebrating cover songs poking fun at Hong Kong issues goes viral as satirical content contributes to city’s cultural identity”, January 12).

The show, TV Most 1st Guy Ten Big Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution, will motivate more people to support derivative works. A humorous or ironic take on a mediocre song can make the song more meaningful. The show will inspire respect for derivative works.

Apart from this, poking fun at the status quo in society will help Hongkongers calm their nerves amid the hustle and bustle of city life. The satirical content is hilarious, and caters more to local tastes. Akina Fong Kin-yee’s song riffing about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, for example, was hilarious.

Although the show was not serious, it was of a high quality. I hope to see more of these shows that benefit Hong Kong people.

Christine Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Time to lower ferry fares in Hong Kong?

Over the last decade, we have been consistently told that the outlying islands ferry fares were raised because of the rise in the price of oil. Now that the oil prices have dropped to the level where they were a decade ago, can the commissioner for transport please tell us when the fares are going to follow suit?

S P Li, Lantau

Officials do care about love of learning

In recent months, some lawmakers and parents have tried to bring attention to the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) test and the pressure it brings to students. Yet, government officials still don’t seem aware of the problem. I think it’s because many of them send their children abroad for an education, as they realise the main problems in our local system.

For many in Hong Kong, getting an education isn’t about learning but about making money. Hence, many students opt to study business and finance, because they believe careers in this field will make them a lot of money. Sadly, many probably won’t find out these are mistaken views until they start working.

Students should enjoy learning. They should be free to choose to study what they are genuinely interested in.

Albert Lee, Yuen Long