HKRep’s 2016-17 season will conclude with The Homecoming, a masterpiece by Nobel laureate and renowned British playwright Harold Pinter. It was the winner of the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play and its 40th anniversary Broadway revival in 2008 also won a nomination of the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. Employing a controversial language to depict equally provocative relationships, it boldly challenges the moral standards of society, starkly revealing the dark side of human instincts and desires. Featuring a new translation by Paul Poon, the current production is directed by Ceri Sherlock, Dean of School of Drama at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, starring Ko Hon Man, Lau Shau Ching, Chris Sun, Eddy Au Yeung, Yau Ting Fai and Karrie Tan. The public preview of The Homecoming runs from 4th to 5th March and it officially opens on 7 March, running until 19 March at the Hong Kong Arts Centre Shouson Theatre. Tickets are now available at URBTIX.
The Homecoming is set in an old house at the outskirt of a city, with Max (Ko Hon Man), his two sons Lenny (Lau Shau Ching), Joey (Eddy Au Yeung) and his brother Sam (Chris Sun). After leaving for years, the eldest son Teddy (Yau Ting Fai) returns with his wife Ruth (Karrie Tan). In the home town, the couple’s relationship begins to change and the distance between them grows. Max later witnesses a flirtatious event between Lenny, Joey, and Ruth. As Teddy proposes leaving with her, Max comes up with the surprising suggestion that she should stay…Which path should Ruth follow? Only she herself can decide.
Written in 1964, The Homecoming transcends time and space in its meaning, which is still highly relevant to the society today. Pinter placed a female character in a male dominated family in order to observe the events that happen within the family through her perspective. Power games, control, aggression, intimidation, lies and the use of violence were some of the elements in the play. These male characters objectify the female. They insult her and demote her, yet they fear the natural power and the potential of female. Its themes of patriarchy and the subversion of female characters remain highly relevant in modern society, inviting the audience to examine and explore these themes together.
Ceri Sherlock, Dean of School of Drama at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, collaborates with HKRep again as director, subsequent to his 2013 production for the HKRep’s The Cherry Orchard. This is the first time he has directed a play by Harold Pinter. He hopes that this production will provoke further discussions and allows the audience to understand the impact of Pinter’s writing on contemporary theatre and dramatic writing. “For the Director, Pinter’s work sets the bar really high and he challenges you as much as the audience. It requires the director to examine in sharp focus human cruelty and disaster – in a seemingly domestic context – and to disturb and disorientate the audience actually almost to provoke them. With this play, Pinter asked the director to be clear, sharp and keep the audience’ focus on the microscopic battleground of conflict, challenge and control expressed through the minutiae of gesture, word, pause and living, truthful silence. I am very pleased to collaborate with Hong Kong playwright Paul Poon to try and transpose this most poetic and locally domestic of texts into an approachable form for Hong Kong audiences.”
Pinter’s impact on British Theatre was both profound and long term. His signature “Pinteresque” style, is a blend of dynamic and rhythmic tension, of conflict in silence and pause that gives his plays an air of a thriller, sinister menace. Employing the vernacular of transgression, violence, sexuality, control and power games, it is yet extremely humorous simultaneously. Pinter describes such kind of black comedy as “comedy of menace”. Yet he believed that life is absurd, and that human behaviour is absurdly funny, so the only way to deal with this inescapable dilemma is to laugh at it. The plot of The Homecoming is extremely bizarre and full of comedy, and we have no choice but to avoid the inevitable disastrous ending by laughing about it.
About Translator Paul Pooon
A citizen of Hong Kong whose parents were both refugees who escaped to Hong Kong during the Second World War. Poon currently teaches, devoting his spare time in writing plays.
About Director Ceri Sherlock
Ceri Sherlock is the Dean of the School of Drama and a Professor at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts (HKAPA). For the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre he directed the award-winning production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in 2013. He has an extensive thirty-year career in the Arts and is a theatre, film, television and opera director and a performing arts teacher.
He began as a trainee director with Theatr Cymru (National Theatre of Wales) and as a staff director at Welsh National Opera. Ceri was Artistic Director of the Actors Touring Company, London and the founding director of Theatrig in Wales. In broadcasting Ceri was Head of Drama at Elidir Films; a Commissioning Editor at S4C; Commissioning Executive Arts (BBC Wales) and an Executive Producer (BBC 4). He has won numerous Best Director Awards for his theatre productions, television documentaries and films including a Golden Gate Award (San Francisco); Golden Torc – Spirit of the Festival (Celtic); Publikumspreis (Wurtzburg); Chris Award (Columbus); Houston Worldfest (Gold) and a coveted Royal Television Society Award.
He joined the HKAPA as Head of Directing and Playwriting in 2010 becoming Dean of Drama in 2011 where he has directed Botho Strauss’ Der Park, Alexander Galin’s Stars in the Morning Sky, Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, Gabriel Garcia Lorca The House of Bernarda Alba, Anton Chekhov Three Sisters, Sarah Kane Crave and 4:48 Psychosis and Schnitzler’s La Ronde for the School of Drama all in Cantonese; and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Handel’s Semele for the School of Music.
Ceri was educated at King’s College and the Institute of Education, University of London and at the Cardiff Centre for Creative and Cultural Industries, where he gained his Ph.D. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, Nipkow Fellow (Berlin) and a Judith E. Wilson Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He is an Honorary Professor in Drama at Kingston University, London and the University of Aberystwyth, a Fellow of The Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).