Drama ends over opera theater leading role

Top News | Riley Chan 23 Feb 2018

Stage and screen diva Lisa Wang Ming-chuen has made peace with the district management over the grand opening of the Xiqu Centre at the West Kowloon cultural hub.

Wang heads the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, also known as Barwo, which is regarded as the leading performing group in the SAR.

As such, she had insisted the group should have the leading role in the opening ceremony. The honor went instead to the Yam Pak Charitable Foundation, a rival opera group.

Friction flared with Wang on the warpath through all media streams, while her relations with the district management was anything but warm.

But yesterday, at a spring reception, it was all lovey-dovey, to the surprise of many.

Barwo will now be in charge of the center's stage opening week, though it's believed to be only a trial run for the grand opening.

In a much softened tone, Wang confirmed her group would be responsible for the weeklong pre-opening activities after "repeated efforts" and "rounds of co-ordination."

She added: "We will be the first group to actually use the venue and turn it into a real performance stage. That's what matters."

She explained that, traditionally, pre-opening rituals, such as worshiping, would be performed on a new Chinese opera venue before performances could take place onstage.

"Stage opening, grand opening - they are just different names," she said. "The stage opening would be just as grand."

She has invited Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in person to attend the stage opening.

Wang also expressed understanding for the government's decision, saying the management had its own difficulties and concerns.

Disagreements during the process were inevitable, she added, but "communication is much better now."

She hopes the government will listen to the industry's demands.

"They might be excellent administrators but they don't truly understand what we need," Wang said. "But at the end, I have to make decisions with the overall interests of all parties in mind. It's all good now."

The association has yet to confirm the performance schedules, but vice chairman Sun Kim-long had earlier said they would make sure the opening involves all veteran professionals.

Wang had previously slammed the district's management for "not respecting" her association and the whole industry.

She said the grand opening should be organized by Barwo, which "has supported the establishment of the arts hub all these years."

She had also criticized the board for appointing Alison Friedman, an American, as director of performing arts.

The long-awaited Xiqu Centre is due to open at year end. It includes a 1,050-seat Grand Theater suspended high above the ground.


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