Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has announced the opening of its first performing arts venue, the Xiqu Centre, on 20 January 2019.
Located at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road West in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Xiqu Centre is designed to be a world-class platform for the conservation, promotion and development of Cantonese opera and other genres of xiqu (Chinese traditional theatre) in Hong Kong and beyond.
In addition to presenting quality programmes, the Centre’s mission is to promote the development of new repertoire, research, education, training and exchanges as well as holding professional development programmes to nurture young talent.
Created by Bing Thom Architects (now Revery Architecture) and Ronald Lu and Partners, the building’s design was inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns and blends traditional and contemporary elements to reflect the evolving nature of the art form.
Stepping through the main entrance, shaped to resemble parted stage curtains, visitors are led directly into a fully open and lively atrium with a raised podium and space for presenting a variety of performances and exhibitions.
A stage dedication by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong with two specially selected pieces, Birthday of the God of Venus and Prime Minister of Six States, will be performed on 30 December 2018 to mark the start of the use of the Grand Theatre in accordance with the customary practice of the xiqu sector.
The Stage Dedication Day will be followed by a week of Open Days with an array of free programmes designed to allow the public to participate in the final stages as West Kowloon prepares for the opening of the Xiqu Centre.
The Reincarnation of Red Plum
Following the official opening ceremony on 20 January 2019, WKCDA will present Cantonese opera classic, The Reincarnation of Red Plum, under the artistic curation of Cantonese opera star, Dr Pak Suet-sin.
With performances by established and emerging Cantonese opera artists, The Reincarnation of Red Plum celebrates the 60th anniversary of its premiere and marks the commencement of a three-month Opening Season.
‘A defining moment in the history of West Kowloon’
Duncan Pescod, Chief Executive Officer of the WKCDA, said:
‘The opening of the Xiqu Centre is a defining moment in the history of the West Kowloon development and will be a benchmark for venues designed to showcase traditional theatre.
‘It also underlines the great importance WKCDA attaches to supporting the development of all forms of Chinese opera in Hong Kong, in particular, Cantonese opera.’
‘Enhancing cultural exchange and cooperation’
Henry Tang Ying-yen, Chairman of the WKCDA Board, said:
‘The year 2019 commemorates the 10th anniversary of Cantonese opera’s addition to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The opening of the Xiqu Centre will be conducive to developing a locally rooted xiqu network that has a regional impact with an important role in international arts development.
‘It also demonstrates West Kowloon’s commitment to facilitating and enhancing cultural exchange and cooperation among Hong Kong, Mainland China and beyond with arts and culture spreading across the city and Chinese culture promoting to the rest of the world.’
‘A star-studded cast’
Louis Yu Kwok-lit, Executive Director, Performing Arts, WKCDA, said:
‘The Reincarnation of Red Plum is the household Cantonese opera, with a star-studded cast of three generations of Cantonese opera artists. This programme is a celebration and the best demonstration of the Xiqu Centre’s mission to preserve and nurture our cultural heritage and promote it to the world.
‘With various programme line-up during the opening, I am confident that the Xiqu Centre will be able to attract a wide range of audiences.’
Header photo: A Stage Dedication Day will be followed by a week of Open Days as West Kowloon prepares for the opening of the Xiqu Centre © West Kowloon Cultural District Authority