AFTER LIFE Comes to HK Rep Next Month

The production runs from July 13th to 28th at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre.

By: Jun. 12, 2024
AFTER LIFE Comes to HK Rep Next Month
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After Life is headed to Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. This play focuses on how people must select a memory to look back on an entire life, bringing a sensibility and warmth to the audience.

“What does memory mean to us?” If you must select a memory that keeps you company on your journey beyond the living world, what will you choose? An episode that is your happiest, one most memorable, or one most precious? While staying at a transit station en route to Heaven, several characters confront this difficult question. Can they cope with their most genuine feelings? Can they reflect on their lives with courage, untying the gnarly knots in their hearts?

In 2021, award-winning playwright Jack Thorne adapted renowned Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s classic After Life for London’s National Theatre. HKRep Assistant Director Fong Chun Kit and HKRep Theatre Literature Manager Kwok Wing Hong collaborate again after the success of Scapin in Jiānghú, Chap. 2023, wielding their stage magic on a journey through life and death, guiding audiences to revisit a treasure trove of memories and identify what is truly important. After Life is based on the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan), adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne (UK), translated by Kwok Wing Hong and directed by Fong Chun Kit, featuring Kalok Chan, ManMan Kwok, Yu Hon Ting, Karrie Tan, Chan Kiu, Chow Chi Fai, Man Sui Hing, Dee To, Tunes Ting, Ng Ka Leung and Poon Tai Ming in the cast. The production runs from July 13th to 28th at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets.

After Life: after death, one must stop briefly at a transit station en route to Heaven. Everyone must select a precious memory that the guides help revive. Looking back, some are filled with regret, others rack their brains, while several recall their loved ones. Perhaps this process is like collecting fragments of the past and retracing the path of life?

Translator Kwok Wing Hong states, “Memories constitute things past. When I was reading the script, I pondered if I were to select a memory that encapsulated me, would that be considered an indulgence or a relief? I wasn’t sure. Every memory carries its own weight, but lightness and heaviness are relative. There’s a thin line between “light” and “heavy” when it comes to the past, because “light” can be heavy, and “heavy” can be light. Another paradox is that memory belongs solely to each of us. Only the individual can make that decision. Furthermore, that memory can possibly exist outside objective reality, as in a mere personal interpretation. So, how can one choose? The difference between the living and the dead is: the former lives in the moment, the latter exists in the past. But life and death are not opposites. The present is made up of the past. The present also lives in the future as memories. Precisely because of this, by understanding death, we appreciate the weight of every moment, we recognise our decisions at every moment, making ourselves better persons for the future, from which we eventually set ourselves free.”

Director Fong Chun Kit shares his thoughts here. “I’ve always liked Hirokazu Kore-eda’s films. No matter what subject, they always present a big picture out of small details, and are filled with the human touch and universal concern. I’ve had flashes of inspiration to adapt a number of his films for the stage. When I heard about the staging of After Life in Great Britain, I immediately set off to explore the possibility of mounting it in Hong Kong.

The British stage version further strengthened the film’s dramatic conflicts, emphasising the perspectives of Western cultures on the issue of life and death. Although there are different viewpoints and constructs on the topic in the East and West, another important element (memory) is unique for every person. Our premiere production of After Life—from translation to staging—is tailor-made for Hong Kong audiences. We invite them to gather fragmentsof the past as we envision the full picture of the passage of life.”

About Translator  Kwok Wing Hong

Kwok Wing Hong is a graduate of the School of Drama of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) with a Master of Fine Arts (Honours) in Playwriting. While at the HKAPA, he was awarded a Sam Leung’s Studio scholarship; he was also a three-time recipient of the Cheung Tat Ming Playwriting Scholarship. Kwok’s Principle was nominated for Best Script at the 2018 Hong Kong Theatre Libre Awards and 2019 Hong Kong Drama Awards; he was nominated for Best Playwright at the 2019 Shanghai One Drama Awards. The screening version of Principle was awarded Best Script for the Hong Kong region at the 2022 Asian Academy Creative Awards. At the 2019 Hong Kong Theatre Libre Awards, his True Lies won Best Script. Later, he was nominated for “Script/Playwright of the Year” at the 2020 IATC(HK) Critics Awards. The State & Denki, a musical script he co-wrote with Hsu Cheng-ping, was among the finalists at the 19th Taishin Arts Award. 

Kwok’s recent output includes such plays as Scapin in Jiānghú, Chap. 2023, Landing to Blossom and Principle (HKRep), True Lies (Poor Guy Diary), The Advocate (Chung Ying Theatre), The Courage to be Disliked (Theatre Farm) and the musical The State & Denki (Our Theatre x Theatre Space). His translated scripts include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Mourning Becomes Electra (New Directors’ Movement, Theatre Horizon) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Project Roundabout).

Kwok Wing Hong currently serves as the HKRep’s Theatre Literature Manager.

About Director  Fong Chun Kit

Fong Chun Kit joined HKRep as Resident Director in 2020 and assumes the position of Assistant Artistic Director in 2023. He has started his partnership with HKRep after graduating from the Drama School of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) Degree, majoring in Directing since 2010. He is a co-founder of tobe THEATRE.

Fong’s graduate piece Taming of the Shrew won him the HKAPA’s Outstanding Director award. His other work, Three Men and a Lady, which he wrote, directed and performed, was nominated for Best Script at the Hong Kong Theatre Libre Awards in 2011. In 2016, Fong was nominated in the Best Director (Tragedy/Drama) category at the 25th Hong Kong Drama Awards for his work in Marriage. In 2017 and 2018, at the Hong Kong Drama Awards, Fong won Best Director (Comedy/Farce) for The Truth from Liar and Sing Out. He won Best Director at the Hong Kong Theatre Libre Awards for Lysistrata in 2018. In 2019, he was nominated for Best Director for Auspicious Day at the Hong Kong Drama Awards and for Marriage (touring) at the 3rd Chinese Theatre Awards. In 2023 and 2024, he won Best Director (Tragedy/Drama) for The Impossible Trial – a musical and Best Director (Comedy/Farce) for Scapin in Jiānghú, Chap. 2023 at the Hong Kong Drama Awards. 

Fong’s directorial output includes The Impossible Trial – a musical (commissioned by WestK, co-presented and co-produced by WestK and Hong Kong Repertory Theatre), Scapin in Jiānghú, Chap. 2023, The Isle (co-director), That's Not True, Ambiguous, Principle (two revivals), Auspicious Day, Marriage (two revivals, plus touring), The Last Supper (premiere and three revivals, plus touring) and Secrets of the 81/2th Floor for the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Falsettoland, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love and Avenue Q (two revivals) for Windmill Grass Theatre, The Originals and The Originals (Reimagined) – Hong Kong Musicals in Concert curated by Leon Ko, The Beauty Queen of Leenane for Project Roundabout, My Very Short Marriage for Music Nation, The Truth from Liar, Sins, Forget Me Not, Monsters and Monsters (re-run) for the Artocrite Theater, A Floating Family – A Trilogy for the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Xiyang Zhanshi, Le dieu du carnage (premiere and revival, plus Singapore tour) for Dionysus Contemporary Theatre, Lysistrata and The Taming of the Shrew for the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Red Sky for Chung Ying Theatre Company, The Goat (two revivals) for We Draman Group, Twelfth Night (two revivals) for tobe THEATRE, With Love William Shakespeare for Theatre Noir (two revivals plus touring).


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