Monday, 6 May 2013

Oedipus the King by Hong Kong Theatre Works


So I went to see this Oedipus the King by Hong Kong Theatre Works today
I've never seen their production before
nor have I ever heard of them
The venue was North District Town Hall Auditorium, which is very far from me
but thanks to MTR it only takes like 1.5 hr to travel across Hong Kong

I went there with two friends, as I mentioned in the previous entry
We took the theatre course together in year 2
and the teacher actually played us some videos of companies performing this in class
Greek tragedies were played by actors with masks on
so seeing live masked actors is actually one of the things I most looked forward to
and of course, it is always intriguing to see how classical plays are moded and played on a Hong Kong stage

Before the play started I saw a lot of junior secondary school students there
It surprised me very much because I didnt expect such young students would be interested in it
We were guessing maybe their school had encouraged/required them to come
anyway it is always good for children/teenagers to have a chance to appreciate classics

The play started with the actors walking out with their masks in hands solemnly
forming a circle, facing inside, then putting on the masks together
and when it ended, they took off their masks in the same way
i wonder if it's a kind of ritual originated from ancient Greece (i know, i should've paid more attention in class)
Back in those days when tragedies were played in huge theatres that could contain an audience greater than ten thousands, it's necessary to put on masks to exaagerate the face of the actors
it seemed to me like when the actors put their masks on, they are no longer themselves, but the characters
when they put it down, they come back to themselves again 
I didnt have a chance to ask the people from HKTW why they only had half-masks instead of the full ones
but i guess it's partly due to the small size of the current audience
besides, unlike the traditional ones these masks are irregular in shape and have different colous
they remind me of Sichuan masks :P

The whole play was performed by altogether 5 actors
while it has like 9 or 10 characters
to be honest, I thought there were more - I mean, I didn't notice some characters were actually the same people
of course it's partly because the actors have put on masks
but they even have different ways to speak, walk, gesture, and all those
Since I didnt keep the booklet, I still cant tell who's who, so

and about the tragedy itself
some people say it's about Oedipus facing his fate bravely
like when at the end he realises that he's the guilty guy he himself is looking for
he doesnt escape, but accepts the fate and punishes himself

i dun think it's about that
i think it's about how one's personality determines his fate
it's solely because Oedipus's determination/stubbornness to find out the truth
that it ultimately leads to his own sorrowful end
if he doesnt insist that much, like, he gives up the finding at some point of the thing,
listens to the prophet, doesnt send for the shepherd, or returns to Corinth to succeed his kingship
then he'd not have to reveal the horrible facts himself
and would not have to blind himself and leave the city

one thing i dun understand is
if jocasta is Oedipus' wife, how come she doesnt notice the old wounds on his feet before the shepherd from Corinth talked about this?

Generally I like this show very much, especially the performing part
If they put on some other Greek tragedies or even Shakespeare or some other classical works,
I'd definitely be glad to go see it

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