OK, so I’m confused. Why are there two posters promoting Crystal, a play currently being staged at the University of Hong Kong?
Distributed around town, one poster shows lead actor Hong Kong drag queen La Chiquitta, aka Rye Bautista, through a broken window, in vaguely provocative (by Victorian standards, at least) images taken by local photographer Nic Gaunt. On the campus of the university, meanwhile, a comparatively bland image of a heart-shaped pile of crystals appears on posters for the play.
Crystal tells the (for some challenging) story of a Hong Kong drag queen battling crystal meth addiction while pursuing love. Written by playwright Dino Mahoney, with music by Jonathan Douglas, it comes to the end of its run at the Black Box Theatre, on the university’s Centennial Campus in Pok Fu Lam, on November 27.
Black Box (HKUBB) says it was given an option of the two posters, but another source claims only one poster was originally made available (the more daring one) and that this version was put up around campus earlier this month – only to be swiftly removed and a request put in for a softer version for campus use.
Why was the poster removed? Did someone in the upper echelons of academic administration deem it offensive? Is this a case of censorship in a centre for learning, at a theatre designed to promote and encourage creative freedom?
Suspicions are further aroused by the fact that there is no mention of the play on HKUBB’s Facebook page, which touts the theatre’s other productions, Livy in the Garden and Only Through Time.
A HKUBB statement did nothing to clarify the situation: “The HKU Black Box was given a choice of images for posting on campus and chose one which specifies that the ‘production is for audience members aged 18 and over’, in order to convey the message clearly to those interested.”
Drama. Mystery. Censorship? All the ingredients for an intriguing play.