City Weekend

New play aiming to help Hong Kong workers look on the bright side of life

Quarry Bay office workers break free of dull day jobs to find the humour in everything from the morning commute to office romances

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 4:30pm

From squashing into a crowded MTR during the morning commute, to attending those never-ending meetings with demanding bosses, it is easy to understand why some Hong Kong employees occasionally find it difficult to see the funny side of life.

But, 31 office workers and residents from Quarry Bay are hoping to change all that, turning the mundane into comedy, and sharing a much-needed laugh with their fellow Hongkongers in the process.

Joan Odita is just one of the actresses performing in Project After 6: Cube Culture, and believes people will recognise many of the characters in the play, which opens at Taikoo Place in May.

“I think [the drama] will connect to a lot of people,” says Odita, who is a 36-year-old full-time customer service officer in real life.

“I’m sure, in some of those scenes, some of the audience will be like ‘yeah I know that person’ or ‘I have a name for that person in my office’.”

Originally an English musical comedy, the drama has been written by Lindsey McAlister, the director and founder of charity Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, who has drawn inspiration from the daily life of a workforce that puts in some of the longest hours in the world.

Nick Harvey, who has worked on several Emmy and BAFTA award-winning shows, has composed the music for a play that covers everything from the morning commute, to the ecstasy of an office romance.

The two-hour long drama features 31 amateur actors and actresses from different cultural backgrounds, some of whom are full-time office workers and had no experience in stage drama before.

The cast, who are juggling their day jobs and night time rehearsals in the lead up to the show, were picked based on their singing and acting skills. They also received training from professionals at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Some of the cast say they want to show the city’s tens of thousands of workers that there is humour in everything, and life does not always have to be about work.

Michael Cheung Cheuk-lam, a 26-year-old music lover who works full time in property management, says the drama has given him a chance to explore himself outside his office cubicle.

“We don’t necessarily have to live a normal office life all the time,” says Cheung, who sometimes needs to devote his leisure time for work. “We can have different interests and hobbies.”

As with Cheung, Natalie Ki Lok-yee, a 24-year-old who works in marketing in real life, says: “To me, the ultimate goal of this drama is that life doesn’t always have to be about work. You can also shine outside work.”

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Odita describes rehearsals as “an escape from her dull and monotonous life”. She says one of her funniest moments with the cast came during an icebreaker where she was asked to interview another cast member as way to get to know each other.

“The person I interviewed is so cute and like an animated person, but they want to put make-up on dead people because they won’t complain,” says Odita. “To me, [going to the rehearsal] is an escape from my dull life.

“The musical actually lets people have fun at their situations. It can be boring doing the same thing over and over again, but this actually gives [people] an opportunity to think that there’s a funny side of everything.”

Project After 6: Cube Culture will be showing in mid-May in ArtisTree at Quarry Bay. It is part of the tenant engagement programme Project After 6 under property developer Swire Properties. All proceeds go to charity Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation.