Contemporary Legend Theatre—Julius Caesar
Two Chinese opera stars in a powerful play of duty, loyalty and bloodshed
Peking opera pioneer Wu Hsing-kuo and his Contemporary Legend Theatre join forces with Zhang Jun, “the prince of kunqu”, for a daring adaptation of Shakespeare’s dark historical saga. Wu and Zhang appear respectively as Julius Caesar and Brutus in this imaginative fusion of Chinese opera and contemporary theatre styles.
Wu is no stranger to Shakespeare and tales of epic proportions. His company is devoted to integrating traditional Chinese opera with modern theatre in its adaptations of classic stories from around the world. His powerful rock opera trilogy The Water Margin, which blended Peking opera with pop music, attracted opera traditionalists and younger audiences alike. His past five Shakespearean adaptations have attracted international attention, including The Tempest, directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark, and a solo performance of King Lear, which led The Guardian to describe Wu as “the Taiwanese answer to Orson Welles”.
Zhang, too, pushes his 600-year-old art form in new directions, aiming to popularise the kun opera genre among audiences of a new generation—a pursuit that led to his designation as a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2011. His outstanding artistic achievements include the lead role in Tan Dun’s opera Marco Polo (2008) and the solo performance I, Hamlet, a dialogue between Shakespeare and the greatest Ming poets.
Wu and Zhang may both be old hands at Shakespeare, but Julius Caesar marks the first collaboration between these two eminent artists from Taipei and Shanghai. This thrilling hybrid of opera, modern theatre and multimedia storytelling is a firm declaration that Chinese opera and Shakespearean drama are compatible art forms that remain as relevant as ever. Witness the world premiere of a reimagined Shakespeare classic delivered by two icons of contemporary Chinese opera and an outstanding creative team.
Commissioned by the HKAF
Performed in Putonghua with Chinese and English surtitles
Approx. 1 hr 40 mins with no interval
Ticket Price (HK$)