Hong Kong International Black Box Festival challenges perceptions of reality
Under the theme “Becoming Real”, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre will co-present the first Hong Kong International Black Box Festival this Autumn from October 11 to November 2. Featuring four unconventional theatre productions from around the world, the festival will allow audiences to explore the different possibilities of contemporary theatre and bring new thoughts that challenge boundaries, by directors from China, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Hong Kong.
The four unique productions from around the world – One Fine Day (Beijing), MDLSX (Italy), Oedipus Schmoedipus (Australia/Hong Kong) and Five Easy Pieces (Switzerland/Germany/Belgium) – offer audiences an exciting glimpse of the diverse possibilities of contemporary theatre.
This edition is an invitation for the audience to spend a moment of disruption with the performances, as a response to the world we live in today, one of war and hatred, ruled by fear and misinformation - a scenario that ironically conditions us to absolve our agency by simply clicking a like or a share on Facebook or Twitter.
The festival begins with a special performance called One Fine Day by Beijing director Li Jianjun. Working with 19 individuals of varied backgrounds from Hong Kong, the audience will encounter their stories as told by the subjects themselves. Almost like a voyeur, one listens in on their stories told “live” through the appropriate channel on a radio set. We are instantly made aware of our role as we engage in this deliberate act of consuming these “real” stories.
In week two, audiences will enter the world of Premio Ubu-winner Silvia Calderoni, in Hong Kong for the first time, with a piece entitled MDLSX, by acclaimed Italian company Motus. Beyond the currency of labels such as transgender, cisgender, gender fluid, etc. the experience of meeting Calderoni blurs the lines between fact and fiction. MDLSX is a post-punk rollercoaster ride that explores conceptions of gender identities and the difficulties in going beyond such labels.
The third piece by Australian performance company post, introduces their unique brand of humour, live art and theatre in collaboration with artists from Hong Kong for the first time. The Cantonese version of their riotous Oedipus Schmoedipus will have its world premiere this autumn. For them, “death belongs to everyone” and hence, 25 volunteers are invited for each performance date to playact their best dying sequences through a hysterical journey of “sly postmodern commentary” on the coloniser and the colonised.
The festival closes with Five Easy Pieces by Milo Rau/International Institute of Political Murder/CAMPO. The piece is a sharp investigation on being someone else on stage. Working with children under 13 years old, they perform the life of child-killer Marc Dutroux using testimonies, trial documents, and interviews. This (re)presentation probes the limits of the possibility of what children know, feel and do, bringing to the fore our own fears, taboos and morality - an intervention that wakes us from our ethical slumber.
The four-week festival showcases bold and unconventional forms of theatre that blur the lines between representations of fiction and reality, and challenge our limits and understanding of the everyday. Each production also invites the audience to become aware of their own individual agency, engaging them as spectators, witnesses, consumers – and in some cases as non-professional performers – and allowing them to experience theatre in entirely new and energizing ways.