A Night at the Cantonese Opera: The New Blood, Yuen Tak-man
The 28-year-old performer Yuen Tak-man has been involved in Cantonese opera since he was 15 years old. Born to a family of Cantonese opera performers, he studied Chinese opera at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and joined the Bright Sing Troupe two years ago as a full-time performer. Photos by Kirk Kenny.
HK Magazine: How should Cantonese opera be revitalized?
Yuen Tak-man: The first step is to learn more about the philosophy and inspiration behind Cantonese opera. We used to hold workshops and classes for primary and secondary students during my time at the Academy of Performing Arts. More children are starting to learn this art, and gradually more audiences are coming. Even some housewives are learning as well. It is all about taking the first step, to do some research and learn more about the art.
HK: How do you see your part in this?
YT: As an actor, I think the most important thing is to play my role and keep honing my skills. If I am good enough, then people will appreciate my performance. Besides rehearsing I also watch a lot of other plays, and take from them what I believe will help myself improve. For instance, I take the aesthetics of Shanghai Yue opera, the strong presence of Peking opera and the lingering charm of Kunqu opera [from Suzhou], and I fuse them with my own performance.
HK: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
YT: Actors like to say that “life is a stage.” I try to exercise self-discipline and humility both on and off the stage. I am learning by doing as well, and I will keep on learning until I am too old for this. I guess I have learnt the importance of learning!
The Veteran: Sun Kim-long
The Playwright: Man Wah
The Teacher: Stella Ma
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