Our guest curator Bonnie Chan had already spoken with great respect of Mok Chiu Yu, the founder and director of the Hong Kong Center for Community Cultural development CCCD). Bonnie herself had been involved in FM Theatre Power, an arts organization that works with many theatre forms to make a difference in this gigantic metropolis. On July 16th, the day before I returned home to the Netherlands, I was fortunate to meet with Mok and Mo (Lay Yan Chi), the cheerful and energetic president of FMTP. Their office on the second floor of the Jockey Club Creative Arts Center, a converted factory building in the Shek Kip Mei area, was just two metro stops from where I was staying in Mong Kok, Kowloon. I spent the better part of two hours talking to Mok and Mo over tea about their histories, their current projects, and possible plans for ICAF.
Mok is a well-known actor and all-round theatre artist with a long-standing interest in people’s theatre. I had already heard about him through my friends from PETA in the Philippines, with whom he collaborated in the past. He is an undisputed stalwart of community arts in Hong Kong. Besides theatre, CCCD employs all kinds of art forms ranging from community music to visual arts and handicraft. Besides, CCCD is also connected to an international Arts Therapy Masters programme. Mok also told me about a colleague of his at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Oscar Ho (Hing Kay). Oscar is a respected curator and art critic who collected many art works that were created during the recent Umbrella Movement. I immediately became intrigued by the possibility to create a special exhibition of that ‘Umbrella’ art work at the upcoming ICAF to illustrate the connection between community art and activism. In the meantime, Oscar Ho has already sent me an optimistic message to communicate that as far as he is concerned such a thing is more than feasible.
Another equally likely Hong Kong-based programme item at the next ICAF might be a one-woman show performed by Mo. As part of FM Theatre Power’s activities, she and her colleagues have developed a new form of participatory theatre inspired by Forum and Playback. They call it Playforward Theatre and over the years they have gathered some amazing narratives in Hong Kong’s popular neighbourhoods. From this material, Mo has created a solo performance, which she has performed in community settings and in 4,000-seat auditoriums. The show is called Women in Red and with a bit of luck you’ll be able to witness it live at Zuidplein Theatre next March. At the next ICAF, we’ll also screen Mo’s feature film 1 + 1, which was based on community art processes in a traditional Hong Kong village that had to be demolished to make way for a new railroad route. Mok plays a major role in this film.
So, thanks to the enthusiastic cooperation of Mok, Mo, Oscar, CCCD and FMTP, at the next ICAF we’ll be able to uncover yet another fascinating example of powerful community art from a faraway corner in the world. This time from the Far East…