By Juliette Cheung, Rosalind Wong and Amanda Leong
Many alumni fondly remember drama activities in their undergraduate days, and speak of the importance of a theatre tradition in English at HKU. Here our contemporary thespians describe their work and ask for your support.
‘O, enforce it! / Myself will straight aboard: and to the state / This heavy act with heavy heart relate.’ As the last lines were delivered and the stage lights blacked out, the full house burst in a round of applause. Our actors and crew breathed a sigh of relief, finally knowing that six months of hard work had finally come to fruition. This was in early February this year, when the Shax Theatre Group (STG) staged a production of Othello to a full house in Sheung Wan Civic Centre. While remaining loyal to the original Shakespeare script, we attempted to make the play modern and refreshing by juxtaposing classical elements with a new setting based upon contemporary urban society. Set in the 60s triad era in Hong Kong, the play follows Othello, an honorable and yet emotionally sensitive and vulnerable triad leader, as he faces the trials of jealousy and betrayal in life. The production is also the entry representing HKU in the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival this year.
The STG was founded in 2010 with a mission to promote Shakespeare and theatre culture to local university students and youngsters. Members of our group are avid Shakespearean addicts studying in different faculties at the University of Hong Kong: most of us are English, Law and Education majors. Our group consists of both local and non-local students not only acting, but also bonding in different tongues over witty barbs. This bond is strengthened through the time spent together during theater rehearsals. Theater rehearsals are no doubt exhausting, stretching from early evenings until even earlier mornings, but the promise of putting on a good show together, not only as a cast but also as a family,, brought together by our collective passion for Shakespeare, drives us on. For our cast members and crew, Shakespearean lines, imagery and emotions—speaking of love, hate and death—puncture our dreams, but we sleep on peacefully, knowing that we have each other to fall back on.
In the past few years, we have staged productions such as Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. We have also represented HKU in the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival, a drama competition in which student teams from Universities in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau stage mini Shakespeare productions. Our entry As You Like It in the 7th Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival won us the “Outstanding Actress Award,” and we have also performed for enthusiastic audiences on occasions such as the School of English Reunion Day last year.
Despite the challenges of day-to-day operations—we are faced with problems such as a limited budget and a lack of resources—we are very proud of the success of our performances. It is definitely heart-warming as we look back at what we have been through together as both a team and a family—and we’re now more determined and united than ever to continue our mission in promoting Shakespeare’s plays.
As a self-funded group, The Shaxbies mainly rely on our annual performance to cover our production budget. All expenditure is covered by our own members in advance. We are staging a new production on 25th April, 2014—Twelfth Night. We would very much appreciate any kind of support from friends and alumni: you keep our doors open by spreading the word about us and by donating what you can afford.
Thank you in the name of love and literature! And thanks to Shakespeare: “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
STG is a self-funded student group that depends on private donations and ticket sales for its operation. If you would like to donate or to know more about us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ShaxTheatreGroup.
To reserve tickets for our upcoming performance of Twelfth Night on 25th April 2014 (7 p.m.) at Sheung Wan Civic Centre, please follow this link and complete the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/11U6zUeXhgn6ScrbTTnKE9S5hf4mtJSguSQGX7QgfemI/viewform