A professional Hong Kong theatre company that creates cutting edge theatre work and hybrid online forms, as well as education and theatre training. |  I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. | Rooftop Productions • Hong Kong Theatre Company

Rooftop ProductionsA contemporary Hong Kong theatre company

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.

About Rooftop Productions

We've been making work in Hong Kong as Rooftop Productions since 2014, but we actually started working together in London when we were both studying at Goldsmiths on the Performance Making MA. We went on to do our own work outside Goldsmiths, including a short residency in Palermo, Sicily, and Greece before coming back to Hong Kong to develop our practice here.  

Our Theatre Work in Hong Kong

Our first collaboration was with We Draman Group at their Black Box theatre in San Po Kong, where we created a devised show with their students, and later performed our first professional show, The Beautiful Ones

We've kept an emphasis on the devising approach throughout our work, but it wasn't until Not The Maids in 2017 (as part of Pants Theatre Production's documentary theatre festival alongside other local Hong Kong theatre companies) that we began using interview texts in our work, connecting our work more directly with social issues.

A focus on social issues carried over to our 2019 show, Testimony, along with our belief in aiming to employ actors from diverse backgrounds in our shows. After Testimony, we've developed further in an online direction, working on R&D supported by West Kowloon Cultural District, with a view to more online and hybrid performance forms in the future.

In 2021, we started work with a group of students from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, to develop a new devised piece with them, which became Songs of Innocence and Experience, performed in 2022.

In 2023, we completed the second phase of Presence, developing a more fully realised vision of an online platform allowing you to travel between different real world spaces using robot cars that can go anywhere, pushing some technological boundaries and incorporating ideas from computer games.