Nov 23, 2016
Some might consider theatre an industry rather than an art form, questioning the value and timelessness of an activity that exists only for the few hours of each night’s performance. But it is a sense of modernity balanced with tradition that Kong Tsz Lik, a student at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts majoring in entertainment design and technology, finds fulfilling when it comes to the theatre.
“I wasn’t sure how my role as a sound system assistant could help the first time I walked on stage. But after lots of work from 9am to 11pm and countless discussions with the crew, it was so amazing and meaningful to bring the show together on stage. I felt like my life was fulfilled,” says Kong, a third-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student.
Her choice was made more fulfilling after receiving a Jaeger-LeCoultre Performing Arts Scholarship from the Swiss watchmaker. The award is a recognition of her talent and will help support her studies in the performing arts. Jaeger-LeCoultre scholarships have been offered to six outstanding students from the Academy’s six schools since December last year.
“I really haven’t come up with a solid plan for how to use my scholarship but I’m sure it will be something practical,” says Kong. “Studying sound system design means you need more equipment than others and I will need the money for it.”
There’s more than enough rental equipment provided by the Academy, but there’s not always enough to meet demand. Kong says it will be nice to have her own sound desk and she hopes to purchase a professional headset, portable speaker and software that will help streamline her work and perhaps permit her to study overseas.
Through her studies, including art development in Taiwan, Kong has learned to take a deeper approach to her work, rather than serve as crew. She has become a dedicated scholar of the tradition and history of the theatre.
Kong hopes to further expand her horizons by visiting different countries, experiencing different cultures and having the privilege to be involved in high-quality stage shows. “There are many different ways to explore entertainment art,” she says. “We don’t have to stick to the old methods.”
Already Kong enjoys the incredible ways Japanese keep the musical drama of Noh alive and how theatre stages in Germany are becoming a special study topic for architects. “That is hugely beneficial; knowing more about what happened in the past leads me to think more about the future,” she says. “How can I help the tradition survive? Besides preservation, how can we modernise the art and bring it back to the stage?”
Kong believes Chinese orchestra should also be able to reinvigorate itself. While most 22-year-olds might consider the style of music as belonging to the past, she disagrees.
“Orchestras now play their music in a formal theatre rather than on a bamboo stage, and sound system technology can help lower the squeals and refine the music quality,” she says. “When you realise they can also play jazz and be joined by Western instruments, modernised as Chinese orchestra fusion, it can be really interesting.”
As the musical accompaniment to the theatre continues to evolve, Kong also hopes to encourage music festivals to highlight different musical genres. “Hong Kong is certainly not considered the birthplace of music or arts, but we can learn and we can make it happen,” she says.
“Perhaps, one day, people will appreciate this particular style of modern music and admire its artistry.”