As a recently relocated Brit, and having also worked as an actress in London for some years, I won’t deny that saying goodbye to my Sunday Southbank strolls and weekly injection of Live London theatre felt less of a fond adieu, and more like the cutting of an umbilical chord. It is true that Hong Kong perhaps doesn’t match the range of theatre venues for English-speaking plays as London’s well-tread boards, but by scratching the surface, Hong Kongers can discover a reassuring bunch of thespo treats and activities to nurture ones dramatic side. Here’s my round up of ten top thespian haunts in Hong Kong, to suit the differing needs of all actors; from the discerning professional to the amateur.
Hong Kong Arts Festival
In February and March, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is host to performers and actors from all over the world, who put together a programme of Hong Kong theatre, music, opera and dance. Three weeks of heaven for theatre lovers! Just make sure you book tickets as soon as they go on sale, as they sell out fast. We’re looking forward to the Bolshoi Opera, ‘Cinderella’ from the Dutch National Ballet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic performances in 2015. Check out the website in October for the fully revealed line up!
Hong Kong Arts Centre
The Hong Kong Arts Centre in Wan Chai is a non-profit organisation and bastion for engaging and promoting contemporary community arts. The centres facilities are impressive; boasting theatres, a cinema, galleries, classrooms, studios and restaurants. HKAC also regularly holds exhibitions and art education programmes that are worth checking out.
Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
For Cantonese speakers, Hong Kong’s biggest theatre group is the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. This government-funded theatre company has been around for 36 years and has put on an impressive selection of serious plays – over 300 productions! Be sure to check out their Black Box Theatre, which delivers cutting-edge performances that push the boundaries of theatre.
Hong Kong Repertory Theatre Ltd., 4/F, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, www.hkrep.com
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Broadway Cinematheque is the place to go for film fans to quench their thirst for international indies. The art house cinema in Yau Ma Tei has become a local cultural landmark, hosting a series of film festivals, including the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Asian Film Festival.
Broadway Cinematheque, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.cinema.com.hk
Hong Kong Fringe Club
This Hong Kong institution has opened its doors to numerous start-up music groups, artists and theatre companies for over 30 years. Set bang in the middle of Central in an old colonial building (built in 1892 originally as The Dairy Farm Depot), this place houses all kinds of art festivals and regularly plays host to visiting theatre troupes. The historical setting and convenient location also make it a great place to grab a coffee or glass of vino before the show!
Hong Kong Players
Playing since 1844, The Hong Kong Players is the longest running community theatre group in Hong Kong, producing three to four English language shows per year. From Shakespeare and legendary musicals (most recently ‘Oh What A Lovely War’) to modern comedy and panto, they’ve got something for everyone. This is the ideal place to go to if you’re looking to really get involved in Hong Kong theatre, get in touch with the community, make some friends and have fun!
Hong Kong Players, www.hongkongplayers.com
The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Not only a place for aspiring young adult actors and masters students to study their craft, HKAPA also hosts some fantastic plays, currently showing the ravely reviewed modern adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, (‘Mies Julie,’) as part of the HK Arts Festival. With over 4,391 performances stages, this truly is a Hong Kong hub for theatre. Take a look at some of their upcoming events here and try to catch some traditional Chinese Opera performances!
HK Academy of Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong www.hkapa.edu
International Academy of Film & Television
For professional training and workshops, check out the International Academy of Film & Television. Described by The Hollywood Reporter as ‘one of the best film schools in the world,’ AFT Hong Kong provides a unique filmmaking experience, high calibre teaching and industry-standard equipment. With some great workshops and the chance to get a certificate or diploma in acting, this is a good option if you’re serious about getting in front of the camera.
International Academy of Film & Television, http://iaft.hk
TakeOut Comedy Club
If you’re looking to tickle your funny bones, look no further than TakeOut Comedy Club! This is the first full-time comedy club in HK and it boasts a range of hilarious stand-up comedians who will leave you feeling deliriously giggly. Based in Soho with weekly shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, TakeOut Comedy is a fun alternative to your usual night out. Or if you used to be the class clown, why not try your hand at some stand up comedy? They do say that laughter is the best medicine!
West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre
For a real taste of Hong Kong culture and heritage, head to the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre (when you can!). The theatre is constructed at the beginning of the year and only lasts a couple of weeks, so unless you want to wait another year, then make sure you head over there as soon as it’s up! The next time it goes up should be in January 2015, so stay tuned. You’ll walk away appreciating the rich culture of Hong Kong and with a deeper understanding of traditional Chinese theatre, all in a stunning setting.
West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, www.westkowloon.hk/en/bambootheatre