Testimony Review

Testimony was reviewed by Bruce Lai in Delta Zhi Magazine. The article is available in Chinese only.

《山下的證詞》劇評:合成的身份.嵌空的紀錄

紀錄總是合成的。紀錄劇場《山下的證詞》以南亞裔香港人的生存實況為題材,透過自述、採訪、政府檔案、書籍和影視片段等不同媒介構成主要內容。雖然這次創作以社會現實的問題為主體,但創作者同時也將自身的紀錄者位置呈現在觀眾眼前,並揭露「紀錄」本身的再現結構。天台製作利用即場攝錄轉播(Live feed) 加上色彩嵌空(Chroma key)的影像合成技術,以簡單的綠幕合成及其他特效,配合人偶、照片播報(slide show)和演唱等多種媒介,靈活地組合成豐富生動的演出。

《山下的證詞》的內容其實很嚴肅:一方面指出南亞裔香港人在教育、福利和國藉等政策上受到歧視,在主流文化中遭受著種種偏見,在職場上受排斥,另一方面則肯定他們在香港歷史中的貢獻。或許在政府及很多華裔港人眼中,南亞裔人的位份可以借用特首林鄭月娥所說「They have no stake in the society」來描述;此劇則讓這些香港人以創作演員的身份,親身澄清這個「誤會」:「We all have a stake in Hong Kong!」

以社會現實為題的紀錄劇場,若只是把搜集到的資料簡單再現,或會使演出像上課一般,觀眾感到沉悶之餘,信息量亦可能使人難以吸收。《山下的證詞》完全沒有這問題。雖然內容以紀實為主,導演及創作演員所挑選的每一個故事都富有戲劇性,加上不斷變化的跨媒體演出效果,猶如綜藝娛樂節目,具可觀性之餘,亦兼具了內容深度及嚴肅性。創作團隊富有幽默感,舉重若輕地切入歧視和種族偏見的問題。當中巴基斯坦籍演員巫加沙特別搶眼.能量充沛。他有學習障礙,又是少數族裔,在香港的教育制度中遭遇雙重困難,發展之路也比一般華裔學生狹窄:「不是做Bartender就是做Foodpanda」。然而他自詡「我是個天生的演員」,除了外表俊朗,他的現場表演亦證明了其演藝天份,連連引來觀眾笑聲。

巫加沙除了飾演自己之外,還可以演甚麽角色呢?我們需要看過他的其他演出才知道。然而在《山下的證詞》這個紀錄劇場中,「演自己」正正是一個微妙的位置:既是紀實,也是演繹。演出啟導觀眾,讓他們更關注為大眾忽視的、社會現實的一角,但重演出來的永遠不是現實本身,所以這演出也不能完全代表/再現真實。創作者意識敏銳,把這反身性的層次置入了演出當中。

有一幕是重演其中一位受訪者的故事:她講述曾被電視台訪問,但「導演」卻要她添妝戴花,例如披上她本來沒有的頭巾,以符合大眾對南亞裔的既定形象。這一幕結合了兩個訪問:電視台的訪問,以及劇團的訪問,後者談及前者。所以這次「重演」就是有雙重層次的「訪問中的訪問」 ,提醒了觀眾對少數族裔的媒介再現須有所覺察,即使打著「紀錄」類型的標籤,始終並非現實本身,總不免被傳播媒介本身所干預一一包括《山下的證詞》這演出。

令我印象最深刻的,是「天台製作」結合了即場攝錄轉播及色彩嵌空特效:手法靈活多變。有些劇場演出使用即場攝錄手法:效果不彰,通常只是豐富了觀賞角度及添加特寫效果。但這個演出加上特效,雖然只是傳統的「綠幕」去背景手法,卻造出既配合文本又變化多端的視覺效果。例如在一些引用書籍內容的章節:他們把綠色紙貼在書本相關頁數中充當綠幕,便可以把演員的演出「嵌」進書本裡,合成後投射在銀幕之上,既表達出該部份的資料出處,也讓印刷的文字活過來。他們隨手拈來,連綠茶也可以用來當綠幕,可惜相關攝影技術未夠純熟,一度出現合成畫面錯位和對象失焦的情況。兩種影視技術結合,不僅更加有趣,也提醒了觀眾紀錄劇場的建構性特質。他們的攝錄機操作和製造合成特效的過程皆現於舞台之上,而控制台也在觀眾席旁,顯出紀錄劇場雖然基於現實資料而作,但其成果則是一台合成的藝術。不是每一個南亞港人都像報紙上的「南亞幫」那樣可怕,亦非都像《山下的證詞》的演員們那樣可爱。若我們意欲關心和了解少數族裔香港人,最好親自與他們真人交流

Testimony

South Asians in Hong Kong: Documentary Theatre

15/08/2019 — 19/08/2019

Over a hundred years ago, the British first brought people from South Asia to Hong Kong to keep the peace. Others came by commercial ship, to take advantage of new trading opportunities.

Now, South Asians make up the largest ethnic minority group in Hong Kong (apart from domestic workers), and the history of their contribution to the development of the city far outweighs their current visibility in society. Hong Kong has become an international cosmopolitan city, but the South Asians who helped create it are systematically excluded from it in the education system, the workplace, and the media.  Many have been fighting for years for their voices to be heard.

The South Asian community here has already faced the problems that all Hongkongers are now facing.  What can we learn from their experiences?

Creative Team

Director/Music Director:艾浩家 Ivor Houlker
Producer/Director:李婉晶 Michelle Li
Dramaturg:賴閃芳 Lai Sim Fong
Academic Advisor:梁旭明教授 Prof. Lisa Leung
Lighting Designer:歐陽翰奇 Au Yeung Hon Ki
Videographer:陳梓灝 Chan Tsz Ho
Collaborating Actors:巫加沙 Mohammad Kashif Ali/ Basnet Tusar/ 李里莎 Arisa Yasaratne/ 李婉晶 Michelle Li/ 吳景隆 Ng King Lung
Assistant Producer:簡淑梅 Chan Myae Mon Mon
Graphic Designer:梁澤宇 Alfie Leung
Promotion Photographer:Ivor Houlker

Press

Testimony Interview on RTHK’s The Saturday Squad
Testimony in Standnews

Promo Videos

Show Photos

The Furies Variations

《復仇變奏曲》

07/12/2018 — 09/12/2018

By what principles can we judge, in order that we continue to choose justice, rather than the worst injustice? – Plato (Republic)

The Furies/Eumenides/Justice/Rule of Law/Ethics/Oresteia…

The Furies, vengeful goddesses of Ancient greek mythology, are born from the blood of Uranus. Their role is to pursue wrongdoers and take revenge upon them. However, in the Oresteia, they are given a new role by Athena: to enforce the new judiciary system established by the people of Athens, and enforce it with due process rather than simply taking revenge. They are given the title of ‘Eumenides’ or ‘The Kindly Ones,’ to acknowledge their new role as protectors and citizens of Athens. Aeschylus’ Oresteia not only brought mythological characters to life; it also used them to reflect and justify the contemporary political and judicial change in ancient Athens- from the rule of Kings to Democracy.

History is full of examples of those in search of justice, but today how do we define justice? Who is responsible for it? How should it be carried out? What is the role of The Furies’ in our search for justice?

Ancient Greece/Myth/Philosophy/Plato’s Republic/Intertextuality/Polyphonic Song/Live Band…

The Furies Variations takes ideas from different ancient Greek playwrights, as well as works from Plato, Confucianism, Kafka and others, using an intertextual approach to consider the the current problem of justice. Accompanied by live rock music, polyphonic singing and Bach.

Creative Team

Director/Music Director/Musician: Ivor Houlker
Producer/Director: Michelle Li
Lighting Designer: Lai Bie
Sound Designer/Musician: Sham Chung Tat
Musician: Maggie Chu
Collaborating Actors: Chan Wing Shuen, Chou Henick, Michelle Li, Lung Jes, Wong On Ting, Yau Fuk Wing

Graphic design:Alfie Leung
Photography:Ivor Houlker
Makeup:Anni Teng

Show Video

To request access to the full show video, please contact us.

Show Photos

Promotion

Not The Maids Newspaper Review

Not The Maids Review: ‘Documentary Theatre Arts’ – by Dr Elaine K. M. Chan, Published on 11/10/2017 in the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Cardboard Dreams

Cultural Ambassador Scheme 2017

30/09/2017 — 15/10/2017

Produced by We Draman as part of the cultural ambassador scheme, Cardboard Dreams is a documentary theatre performance for the community, about the stories and situation of the elderly in Hong Kong. Concept/Direction/Dramaturgy by Rooftop’s Michelle Li, with puppetry and movement direction by Ivor Houlker. This is our second cultural ambassador scheme performance produced by We Draman, after last year’s Building with Bamboo.

Performance Times and Locations

30/9, 11am, Tai Po Central Town Square
30/9, 2:30pm Shun Wo House, Fo Tan

1/10, 11am Tsing Yi Promenade
1/10, 2:30pm Yat Tung Estate, Tung Chung

2/10, 11am Tuen Mun Park
2/10, 2:30pm Un Chau Estate, Cheung Sha Wan

5/10, 11am Belcher Bay Park, Sai Wan
5/10, 3pm Oi Tung Shopping Centre

7/10, 11am Kwun Tong Promenade Park
7/10, 3pm Wo Che Plaza, 2/F

8/10, 11am Cheung Fat Plaza, 2/F, Tsing Yi
8/10, 2:30pm Tsuen Wan Park Open Air Theatre

10/22, 11am Upper Wong Tai Sin Estate
10/22, 2:30pm Kowloon Park

Show Photos

This show follows on from Not The Maids earlier in the year, continuing in our work on documentary theatre. With Cardboard Dreams we also began from arranging interviews, transcribing them, and then working with the actors to create the text of the show from a combination of their own experiences (or interviews with their family/parents) and the verbatim texts we gathered. Sometimes actors tell their own stories about how they relate to the topic, as well as taking on the roles of interviewees, either the elderly themselves, or care workers, or their relatives.

The materials we worked with (cardboard) also reflect an aspect of the elderly poor in Hong Kong that is very particular to this place, the collection of cardboard for the small amount of money that can be made by turning it in for recycling. Puppetry also enables us to move beyond a realistic representation of people in this situation, to a more universal one consistent with the materials of the show.

Official Banner for Cardboard Dreams

Theatre in Nature 2017

Physical Theatre Training Camp

01/10/2017 — 04/10/2017

Leaving the City…

When we train or work as performers, usually we’re coming in off the street or MTR into a studio space a few times a week. We cannot help but be influenced by our environment, and what we create becomes a product of the city rather than a reflection on it. By leaving the city behind and working in a natural environment, we can fully commit to performance training and regain the essential parts of our humanity that are being lost through the overcrowding and technology we are adapting to. Theatre in Nature 2017 is the third in our annual series of training camps in the rural areas of Hong Kong.

This idea is one that has many precedents in the work of other companies and theatre practitioners. Jacques Copeau took his actors to the country outside Paris to train as early as 1913, to find a method of training to improve their physical dexterity, authenticity and ability to work in harmony. Most famously perhaps, Jerzy Grotowski moved from the city of Wrocław to a remote forest base in 1972 to pursue his own paratheatrical experiments. When Gardzienice was established in 1977 by one of Grotowski’s former collaborators, Staniewski, the company took the name of the tiny Polish village where they are based, creating and performing theatre in this ‘natural environment.’ Tadashi Suzuki relocated his company to the village of Toga in 1976, and there are other modern examples in Asia, such as Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and U-theatre.

Ivor Houlker Actor's Headshot

Our main instructor – Ivor’s performance and movement training is influenced by these groups, and in particular his time living, training and performing with Gardzienice. His approach involves site-specific performance techniques and demanding physical training that heightens the actor’s awareness of self, others, and our environment. Alongside methods from European theatre practitioners, Ivor incorporates training from his background in tai chi.

Billy Sy - Actor's Headshots Colour

Another main instructor – Billy’s movement training focuses on the psycho-physical process of acting, and methods of building an ensemble. He focuses on helping actors to develop the body’s awareness, and understanding the universal states of groups and individuals is as important as training one’s imagination and observation. This enables actors to bring transformation through their outward expressions of inner intents. Billy is passionate about sharing a variety of methods and the work of different movement practitioners. Billy is also a certified yoga instructor, and he includes yoga training for actors as a way of balancing the physical, psychological and mental bodies and enhancing one’s self-realisation.

Theatre in Nature Camp Details

  • Date: 1-4/10/2017 (Sun-Wed)
  • Location: Sai Kung Bradbury Hall, hiking trails and surrounding beaches
  • Gathering time & venue: 12 noon, 1st October @ Sai Kung Town Centre
  • Finish time & venue: 3pm, 4th October @ Wong Shek Pier
  • Fee: $2,100
  • Quota: 8-10
  • Main Instructors: Ivor Houlker, Billy Sy
  • Course Content: Sunrise Yoga, Sunset Run, Tai-Chi in the water, Mutuality Training, Rhythm work, ‘Psychophysical’ Actor Training, Site-specific performance making, Polyphonic singing
  • Suitable for: People who have experience in theatre, movement or performance, and have a reasonable level of physical fitness. (Professionally trained theatre practitioners will be considered first)

* This training programme will be conducted in Cantonese and English.

Notes for Applicants

  1. Applicants should evaluate their own physical condition for joining this programme.
  2. Participants will have to help carrying a small amount of food and tools.
  3. Participants will take turns to prepare meals and clean up.
  4. Meals will be vegetarian, one meat dish will be provided per meal for those who request it.
  5. Mobile internet signal is weak on site, but it has phone reception, and is equipped with shower and toilet facilities.

Application and Enquiries

Please e-mail info@rooftopproductions.hk

Photos from Theatre in Nature 2017

Lost Shoreline

在舊城的街道中,你有聽過海嗎?

22/03/2017 — 02/04/2017

With an original mobile app, giving you the freedom to choose how to experience the show.

The Lost Shoreline…

There is a long lost shoreline in Yau Ma Tei, which has born witness to the history of the city. We reclaimed the sea in pursuit of development. Time passed, and the once vibrant port is now facing redevelopment. While terms like ‘demolition,’ ‘preservation,’ ‘reconstruction’ and ‘activation’ are mentioned, the shoreline has been pushed ever forward. Under the current of development, who is being left behind? Urban renewal, it is not always just the shoreline which is being lost…

An unprecedented theatre experience

To promote the renewal plan for the old Yau Ma Tei district, a consultant firm has been commissioned to create an app called HK5D, to let the stakeholders understand the 5D development plan through an on site audio guide.

This app is an original creation which breaks the linear rules of an audio guided tour. Participants can freely choose their walk according to the map and annotations on the map in the app. They will also have to explore the physical space to search for information needed. The app will also notify them of different live events, allowing the participants to choose their own programme to join, leading to a self-constructed theatre experience. In this programme, your phone will lead you to submerge in the lost ocean, people and events from history, to experience the gains and losses of city development.

Tickets

22/3-2/4/2017 7:45pm(No show on Monday)
Place: Yau Ma Tei, Outside Kubrick
H2, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei
In Cantonese
$170/$120*
*Full time students and the elderly
Tickets now available on Art-mate

Participants notice

  • Audience members should bring their own smartphone (iOS 8.0 or above / Android 4.0 or above) and headphones. Please make sure your phone is sufficiently charged.
  • The programme will require cellphone data; please make sure your phone has mobile internet and sufficient data.
  • The programme is around 2 hours, the audience will need to be able to stand and walk.
  • Because of the need to walk alone in the street, this program is only suitable for audience aged 18 or over.

Production Team

Collaborating performers
Michelle Li Ng King Lung Chiu Chin Hei Larry Ng* Sung Boon Ho^
App Design and Writing
Ivor Houlker
Graphic Design
Alfie Leung
Promotion Photography
Ivor Houlker
* 22/3-26/3
^ 28/3-2/4

Tickets or Programme Enquiries

9238 1549/ticketing@rooftopproductions.hk
Online Ticketing:Art-mate
Produced by: Rooftop Productions
Venue Support:Kubrick, Yes Inn
Ticketing Partner:Art-mate

Not The Maids

Behind a monthly salary of $4310, she is much more...

11/08/2017 — 13/08/2017

Hong Kong has nearly 350,000 foreign domestic workers. On Sundays you can see them in public squares and parks; a street view unique to this city. These ‘maids’ flew from their homes to work in another home. Each week they work for six days performing household chores, taking care of children and the elderly. For one day a week, they are guitarists, photographers, rugby players… themselves.

‘Maid’, ‘Helper’, ‘Foreign Domestic Worker’… Apart from these names, how much do we really understand ‘them’?

Tickets
Facebook Event

Concept/Director
Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li
Collaborating performers
Karen C. Siu, Isabella Leung, Michelle Li, Russell Terre Aranza
Lighting designer
Bie Lai
Stage management
Ray Wong

In English and Cantonese, surtitled in both languages