Playwright Edward Lam Yick-wah reinvents a classic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 11:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 11:01am

Edward Lam Dance Theatre


From Edward Lam Yick-wah's perspective, the Hong Kong audience's reverence for musicals looks to be stuck in the 1980s and '90s and is largely limited to classics such as Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia!

"I've always felt that while theatre people here prefer to adopt the Western standard, they often refuse to look forward," says the playwright and theatre director. "It's a consequence of both the lack of proper training opportunities at school level and the mass media's tendency to champion the passé."

Encouraged by the progressive spectacles he saw in London, some of which "offer reflections on humanity and the systems on top of their family-friendly or fantasy angles", Lam decided to stage an original musical that conveys his messages in the manner he prefers.

The resulting piece, Art School Musical, was warmly received during its May premiere at Kwai Tsing Theatre, and will be staged at the Cultural Centre for four performances this week.

Alternately humorous, sentimental and thought provoking, the three-hour-plus Putonghua musical tackles a variety of themes, including art, love, gender and the essence of genius by reimagining the Chinese legend The Butterfly Lovers in a contemporary art-school setting.

"From my experience, it's the learning process that keeps revitalising love," says Lam. "Art helps us to learn about ourselves and so does love, which I see as a process of finding our ideal self. To me, love, art and self-discovery all share the same essence."

A week after this production of Art School Musical, Lam will be staging a rerun of his recent family drama I Hate Therefore I Marry at the same venue, with Joey Leung Cho-yiu joining the cast.

In the coming months, he is going to be turning his focus to What Is Sex?, an adaptation of Dream of the Red Chamber. The play will conclude Lam's Four Great Classics series, which began with 2006's Water Margin adaptation, What Is Man?.


Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, July 18-19, 7.45pm, July 19-20, 2,30pm, HK$140-HK$420 Urbtix. Putonghua with Chinese surtitles. Inquiries: 2893 8732