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‘Happy Valley’ Remembers the Hong Kong of Our Memories

In a new performance at Firehall Arts, HK-born playwright and performer Derek Chan reflects on the region's democratic reality.

Firehall Arts Centre 17 May 2023The Tyee

Happy Valley, the closing show of the season at the Firehall Arts Centre from rice & beans theatre, asks audiences what they’ll remember about Hong Kong 50 years from now.

Created and performed by award-winning playwright Derek Chan 陳嘉昊, the production is a solo, interdisciplinary performance piece told through text, song, multimedia and music. Through the piece, Chan dissects the historic, political and cultural context surrounding Hong Kong’s current democratic struggles.

Although the production takes place and was created in Canada, some local contributing artists are self-censoring their work, and themselves, because of what is going on in China. Other artists have chosen to use pseudonyms or remain anonymous.

Directed by Anjela Magpantay with dramaturgy by Heidi Taylor, Happy Valley is named after the historic racecourse that hosted the infamous Concert for Democracy in China in 1989, one week before the Tiananmen Square massacre. It expands on Chan's 2021 theatrical installation yellow objects, also hosted at the Firehall.

Audiences will be introduced to the character of Uncle Chan, who wonders if he will be able to go home — or if it even really exists anymore. Meanwhile, the people of Hong Kong wonder if they’ll ever have agency over their fate.

According to Chan, the Hong Kong of Happy Valley is definitely more of the place we miss and love told through stories than a physical location that may be lost forever. He hopes the show will bring people together in that spirit of love and reflection to keep our memories of Hong Kong alive and not forgotten. Watch a teaser below.

Catch the world premiere of rice & beans theatre’s English-Cantonese production 'Happy Valley' from May 25 to June 4. To learn more about the performance, visit Firehall Arts Centre’s website.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Media

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