Rooftop Productions • Milk and Honey | null | Rooftop Productions • Hong Kong Theatre Company

Milk and HoneySongs of the Sacred and Profane

In a land flowing with milk and honey, are you satisfied?

On the long march to the promised land… Some go to make a living; Some to escape disaster; Some for a better future; Some to avoid the corruption of sweetness and richness… People will use any means to leave a familiar land in search of a new sky.

Milk and Honey is a song theatre piece, created in collaboration with Billy Sy. In Milk and Honey, we tell stories about migration for a better future through myths, religious accounts, modern references, and live traditional folk songs from around the world.

On the journey towards to land flowing with milk and honey

The promised land in the Bible is also called the land flowing with milk and honey, a land of fertility. In Exodus, Moses was leading the Israelites to that piece of land. Yet, in nature, there are also animals going on annual migrations for food, water and a better birth place for their young.

It is a natural instinct to travel to find a better place, and in this process, we will have to leave the grounds that we are familiar with, and step into the unknown. Still, humans will carry on, making their journeys. Everyday, many people throughout in the world take this step: refugees who lost their homes, immigrants who are searching for a living and a better life for their children, people who arrive in search of their roots, and people who leave for freedom...

In a globalised world, how are we going to look at these situations? And what can we learn from ancient myths and animals?

Song Theatre

Musicals use songs and dance to convey characters’ emotions, furthering the plot and dramatising conflicts. Musicals have become a genre with its own predictable style, content, and even story. Song theatre describes the use of songs in a contemporary theatrical setting not following any particular genre. The songs are often non-narrative, visual, physical. In the same way as musicals, live singing and music are involved, yet the singers will also take up the job as musicians. Traditional songs and music forms are often used, which reference histories and cultures beyond the context of the performance. In Milk and Honey, we will be using around 20 pieces of music from different traditions and cultures, including but not limited to Bulgaria, Ukraine, India, Greece, and Georgia.

Hong Kong Theatre Libre: Best Scenography (Won)
Hong Kong Theatre Libre: Best Director (Nominated)
Ivor Houlker, Billy Sy
DirectorsIvor Houlker, Billy Sy
Collaborating ActorsMichelle Li, Lung Jes, Ivor Houlker, Billy Sy
Lighting DesignerLai Bie
Graphic DesignerAlfie Leung
Promotion PhotographerIvor Houlker
Acknowledgements: Canaan Moving Co Ltd.
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Fringe Club Member





Sunday, 17 July 2016 at 20:00
Monday, 18 July 2016 at 20:00
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 at 20:00
Friday, 20 July 2018 at 15:00
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 at 20:00
Map, Fringe Club Upstairs Theatre, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong,
Fringe Club Upstairs Theatre, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central
2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

Directors' Notes

In the process of making Milk and Honey, we have been looking for ways to elevate contemporary issues to eternal themes by finding their echoes in the myth and religion.  Our starting point for the show was the biblical title, Milk and Honey, locating the idea of migrating in search of a better life - a ‘promised land’ - in Exodus, long before any of the borders we are currently concerned with were established.  From that point, we’ve been on a relatively epic journey of our own, wading through everything from Sanskrit Puranas to Aeschylus, animal migration patterns to Hong Kong migration statistics, American Creationists to Egyptian creation myths.  However, in spite of such an eclectic array of sources, the surprising thing in our research has been the shared narratives we have kept discovering between vastly different cultures and apparently contradictory ways of thinking. These narratives are largely journeys in search of the meaning in chaos, in coping with the absurdity of life and finding a way to improve social cohesion through shared ideas and ideals.

“The history of religions reaches down and makes contact with that which is essentially human: the relation of man to the sacred. The history of religions can play an extremely important role in the crisis we are living through. The crises of modern man are to a large extent religious ones, insofar as they are an awakening of his awareness to an absence of meaning.” - 

With Milk and Honey, we hope to introduce Song Theatre to Hong Kong.  The act of singing has been a part of theatre since the dithyramb in ancient Greece, but the advent of Musical Theatre as a genre in the 19th century meant that the use of singing in theatre became largely associated with one type of show, with conventions of staging, structure, and content.  By using the term ‘Song Theatre’ we hope to reclaim live singing for use in experimental theatre forms, mixing different traditions to create something new. Our sources for the songs are just as diverse as those for the images and text of the performance, including Ukrainian, Georgian, Bulgarian, Latin, Sanskrit, and English(es).  

We are deeply indebted to the legacy of Tadeusz Kantor, both in the way we work with objects and with ritual.  We are also hugely influenced by the work with song and tradition in the anthropological theatres that emerged from the 70’s (Grotowski, Barba, Schechner, Gardzienice) but from a strongly postmodernist perspective.

Exploring the theme of migration has been a very personal subject for all of our devising team, and we each have very different histories of both family and personal migration.  As an immigrant in Hong Kong myself I feel extremely grateful for the trust and support of everyone who has made it possible for me to continue to live and work here, making theatre I care about.  I would also like to specially thank my co-director Billy Sy, without whom this show would never have come into being.