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Hong Kong's Expo cultural feast

HONG Kong director Edward Lam will stage his new play "Great Expectations" about aspirations in modern cities as one of Hong Kong's numerous and multifaceted offerings at the World Expo Shanghai.

Inspired by Charles Dickens' classic "Great Expectations," Lam's play commissioned for the Expo explores urbanites' expectations in today's cities. The Expo theme is "Better City, Better Life."

It will be staged from July 22 to 25 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Starring Golden Horse Award winners Angelica Lee and Tony Yang, and new stage actor David Wang, the play tells of the transformation of a woman's expectations when she and her architect boyfriend start decorating their new home, with the help of an interior designer.

"When I was told to make a drama relating to the World Expo, the first thing that came into my mind was 'Great Expectations'," Lam says.

Dickens' novel written in 1860 describes, among other things, how lives and social values were changed by the Industrial Revolution. The book was written around 10 years after the first World Expo was held in London, showcasing the technologies brought about by the industrial upheaval.

"I want to share with the audience how a person's 'great expectations' would affect him or her in a modern time, an era of media revolution," Lam says.

"People in love have many expectations, and such expectations are actually not only about love, but also about their dreams, their future."

Lam is just one of the 1,200 Hong Kong artists who will present a wide range of cultural programs during the six-month World Expo in Shanghai. It's the largest gathering of Hong Kong artistic talent ever assembled outside Hong Kong.

They will showcase their talents and ideas in 26 programs, more than 70 performances and four visual-art exhibitions.

"Never before have there been so many Hong Kong artists jointly making cultural performances outside Hong Kong, and Shanghai World Expo provides such a rare opportunity for them," Raymond Young, permanent secretary for home affairs, says during a recent press conference.

The performances will take the form of Cantonese Opera, orchestra, drama, dance, ballet and a mixture of some of these artistic forms.

"Programs are invited based on their relevance to the Expo theme, the emphasis on the modern city life, the relationship between city and culture and also between humanity and development of cities in modern times," according to Professor Lo King-man. He is chairman of Program and Development Committee and the Art Form Panel on Festivals under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

The LCSD has earmarked HK$25 million (US$3.2 million) for all the cultural performances.

The Hong Kong government has spent around HK$340 million on the World Expo, including HK$140 million for the construction of the Hong Kong Pavilion.

Date: July 22-25, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tel: 962-388, 6854-1234

Tickets: 100-500 yuan


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