West Kowloon Cultural District

More than 30 groups lined up for shows at new Chinese opera theatre in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District

  • Operator says booking situation ‘satisfying’ amid concerns over high fees, with HK$22,000 in daily rent for grand theatre
  • Features in swanky hall include air conditioning from under seats, and an elevated structure to avoid disturbance from underground trains
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 6:45am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 6:45am

More than 30 groups were lined up for shows next year at a widely anticipated Chinese opera theatre in Hong Kong’s multibillion-dollar arts hub, its operator revealed on Wednesday.

Louis Yu Kwok-lit, performing arts executive director at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, said performers who booked the Grand Theatre at the new Xiqu Centre included big and small groups.

Yu promised to review charges at an appropriate time amid concerns over high rents which may not be affordable for some local arts groups. “I have to say again, our current leasing situation is satisfying.”

The theatre, which can accommodate more than 1,000 people, charges at least HK$22,000 in daily rental for performances.

Leung Wai-hong, leading actor at local opera group Canto Op, said it could not afford the fees. But he added that his group did not favour performing there. They usually strut their stuff at Ko Shan Theatre in To Kwa Wan.

Other popular venues among local opera groups include Sunbeam Theatre in North Point and Yau Ma Tei Theatre.

The Xiqu Centre, one of the cultural district’s landmark buildings, will officially open on January 20 with a star-studded delivery of a classic piece under the direction of stage legend Dr Pak Suet-sin.

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A soft opening will be held on December 30 with two shows by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, also known as “Barwo”, and Chinese opera rituals to “break in” the theatre, followed by a week of free programmes for the public to take part in the venue’s trial run.

Yu said more than 5,000 tickets had been distributed for shows between December 30 and January 6.

For those who missed out on advance tickets, some would be available at the door on show dates starting at 10am.

The Grand Theatre, the crown of the Xiqu Centre, is awash with purple and gold, built about 30 metres above ground so it would not be affected by noises and tremors from underground trains.

The venue is located near Austin MTR station and the high-speed rail terminus in West Kowloon.

Yu said air conditioning would come from under the seats while both Chinese and English subtitles would be screened during shows.

Visitors can also buy tickets to shows at another hall in the centre, the Tea House Theatre. In the spirit of how audiences in the Qing dynasty enjoyed cultural performances, guests can savour dim sum and tea while taking in the shows.