The story appears on

Page A11

March 18, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Lam's new take on 'Red Mansions'

CHINESE literary classic "A Dream of Red Mansions" ("Hong Lou Meng") will get another new makeover - this time as a stage dram by acclaimed Hong Kong director Edward Lam.

Next month, Lam presents his latest work "Awakening," based on the classic featuring Hong Kong pop singer Denise Ho playing the male protagonist Jia Baoyu. It is about love and relationships.

The Shanghai staging follows positive reviews of the work in Taiwan and Hong Kong since it debuted last month. Four shows will be staged in April at the Shanghai Culture Square.

The play features an all-female cast of 13 actresses, including Ho. The three male roles are all played by women. The novel, like Lam's plays, is known for its complex portrayal of many female characters.

The story begins with the last chapter "Jia Baoyu Revisits His Own Fate" of the 18th-century novel by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) author Cao Xueqin (1715-1763) about the decline of a wealthy feudal family.

Jia, sensitive and compassionate, has special relationships with a number of women in his family, including his primary love interest Lin Daiyu, his younger first cousin.

"Jia has a pure heart. I hope the audience will be inspired and encouraged by the drama and grow up," Lam tells Shanghai Daily. "There are so many romantic elements relevant to the classics, including the music, stage setting and the 12 actresses."

"In China's literary history there is no other work like 'Hong Lou Meng' that shows so much respect for and sensitivity to women," he says. "That's one reasons I used an all-female cast."

The drama is the 50th work from the prolific Lam, who established the prestigious Edward Lam Dance Theater in 1991 in Hong Kong.

The play features some elements of contemporary music and delicate Yueju Opera, in which male roles are sung by women.

This is not the first collaboration between Canadian-born Ho and Lam. In 2009 she played the role of Jia Baoyu in his drama "Men and Women: Peace and War." But that was only a three-minute appearance and she didn't know much about the character or classic Chinese literature; Ho didn't grow up reading Chinese classics in Canada.

"I now find a lot of resonance with Jia," she says. "We have similar views about the world and a lot of inner love with share with others."

Ho says she has discovered a lot about herself through working with Lam. "He is a psychologist. He reads our mind and told me a lot about myself that I didn't realize," she says.

Although the play is adapted from "A Dream of Red Mansions," Lam adds a lot of new content. In the future he plans "a 'real' 'Hong Lou Meng'," he says.

Lam, a leading Chinese-language playwright, is known for plays including "18 Springs," "Madame Bovary Is Me" and "The Doppelganger."

At the age of 18, Lam declined an invitation to write for a Hong Kong TV series and instead turned to the stage.

He says he feels strange when he hears others introducing him. "I cannot express myself through language. I will let you know more about me thought my drama work," he says, then playing part of "Awakening" on screen.

"The imagination and inner feelings generated by a drama are the true details we see. But our education today and our customs overemphasize what we see with our eyes," he says.

Lam says he had no idea while working on "Awakening" whether the audience would like it or not. "I have a lot of faces - I can be like this and like that and the same goes for my works. The audience who likes this one can dislike that one," he says.

He does not aspire to so-called "success."

"I only hope to be sincere in making drama till the day I die," he says. "We have no strength to change the world but we can change ourselves."

Seeing sadness around him makes him unhappy, Lam says. "I want to explore the reasons for this unhappiness through my work. The medicine can be sweating or crying as the audience watches, and afterward they feel relieved."

The play will be the first drama performed at the 2,000-seat Shanghai Culture Square since it opened six months ago. It has been a venue for musicals, concerts and operas.

Date: April 19-22, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square, 36 Yongjia Rd

Tickets: 80-580 yuan

Tel: 962-388


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend