A Hong Kong Theatre Company
Rooftop Productions was founded in 2014 in Hong Kong by Ivor Houlker (from the UK) and Michelle Li (a local Hongkonger). We make original theatre works which are influenced by pressing social and cultural issues in Hong Kong at the moment.
Our shows are devised; starting without a script, and working intertextually with things like interview transcripts, fragments of historical text or plays, philosophy or original material generated with our performers. We work in a multidisciplinary way, trying to integrate all the different aspects of theatre in our creative process, from live music to live video and even live interaction with mobile apps.
In 2022, we won the Award for Young Artists (Drama) in the 16th Hong Kong Arts Development Awards, for our pioneering work in arts-tech.
Actor Training and Theatre in Education
Apart from our professional shows, we also work with young actors and schools to promote contemporary training methodologies, and an understanding of modern theatre practice that goes beyond more traditional ways of teaching 'drama'. This means creating specialised courses that put students in contact with theatre artists who are well known in their fields, allowing them to gain first hand practical skills as well as a depth of theoretical knowledge to back it up. Our international background and education means that we're able to work in both English and Cantonese speaking environments, bringing specialist knowledge to both.
Pushing Technology Forward
We try to push the boundaries of live performance by integrating technology in innovative ways, while still retaining the liveness that makes theatre unique. The integration of technology into our scenography has been repeatedly recognised in awards, and we are known for using live video feeds and projection in our work, such as using live green screen in Testimony, or other complex live camera work as in Songs of Innocence and Experience. We're also known for being the first theatre company in Hong Kong to write our own interactive apps for use in shows.
Using Apps in Theatre
In 2015, The Beautiful Ones was our first official show as a company, which used an app to take the audience on a guided audio walk through the local area before returning to the theatre for the second half. In 2017 we went on to make another app-based show, Lost Shoreline, expanding massively on the scale and level of interactivity in the app, using GPS and local phone numbers to give the audience the freedom to really explore the area. Thanks to the success and popularity of the app, we were invited to host talks and seminars about the creative experience. We were also invited to Tokyo for an exchange programme organised by the Goethe institute Japan.
Online Theatre in 2020-2021
As theatre events moved online in 202, we started work on Presence, an online platform to allow remote participation in theatre-inspired events. Presence uses specially built robot cars that can be remotely operated over the internet, allowing you to navigate a space and interact with performers via text-to-speech. After the first presentation of the R&D on Presence, we're already working on several shows that expand on the idea of hybrid online/real life performances.