“Perfume” 「香水」; my Prologue

Filed in Events, Perfume 香水 (2005), Work

It's been three weeks since "Perfume" 「香水」 finished, enough time to feel the after-show depression and get over it again. I always enjoy the stage performances. They are the rare opportunity for me to share time with the same group of people over an extended period of time, an opportunity to discover new friends.

"Perfume" was no exception.

Terence 鄭傳軍, the director, is himself an actor with five years of study at the Hong Kong Institute of Performing Arts. He was very particular with every aspect of the play and gave advice or requests to the actors frequently but also respected their need for room and freedom to try their own methods of expression. He did a terrific job with Josie who was simply great on the stage.

Josie 何超儀 has been acting for an eternity but almost always on film. Acting for stage is different and she had to adjust. She's a smart lady though and she worked hard to become the best she could be. It showed. I guess I was lucky on this occasion. When I began working with these people, I had no pre-conceptions about them, their abilities or their personalities. I was starting from scratch. I knew Josie's background but that was all I knew and it didn't affect my relationship with her.

Josie's a marvel. She has many serious physical debilitating problems and she never lets them hold her back. Her mind is as strong as steel and she works as hard as a horse to get whatever she wants. And she doesn't have a single hint of arrogance in spite of her family background and her success in the film world. It's no wonder she has the respect of her peers.

Alice 劉雅麗 was wonderful. She has years of stage acting experience and no character is too big a challenge for her. I'd heard of her a few times over the years that I've been in Hong Kong but I've never worked with her, and I've never seen her performances. It's a pity because she's really a great actor.

Gary 譚偉權 is remarkable. If anyone needs a model of hard work and determination, they need look no further than Gary. He gave up his work in TVB several years ago because they were holding him back, confining him to the children's program. Now he has a full time day-time job and pursues his true love at night; ie, acting. Every day during rehearsals, Gary would work a full eight-hour day at his day-time job and then rehearse with us for four hours in the evening. He's proven that actors can continue to act if they really want to, even if they have to work a day-time job to put food on the table.

Four hard working actors without arrogance, malice or envy all working hard and cooperating to make the best production possible. It's no wonder we became friends.

Sally 林愛心 and Shirley 梁雅芝 were wonderful to work with. If you saw the show, you probably saw them dressed in black walk up onto the stage to stand with us at closing before we left the stage; two wonderful and hard working girls. They faced multiple challenges every day, and they did it without complaint. They were usually over-worked and tired but always wore a smile none-the-less.

It was a great team. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

The play was an original, written by 喻榮軍, a playwright from Shanghai. It was written for a Mandarin audience and we had to make changes; both from a language standpoint and from a content standpoint; for the Hong Kong audience. That said, the playwright did a great job with the play, creating something that was interesting, intriguing and entertaining to watch. That's not an easy feat and the playwright should be commended for his achievement.

Unfortunately, there was one aspect of the play with which I didn't totally agree. Many of the audience found it confusing that Gary and I would suddenly and so obviously be gay partners at the end of the play. It was clearly out of sync with the rest of the story. As actors, there's only so much we can do to control the result of the play. In the end, we have to listen to the demands of the director and the company executives. In this case, it was the company executives who requested this particular ending; albeit in the best interests of the play. They thought that Hong Kong audiences would be entertained by this comical result, and in fact, many audiences were entertained by the ending. Unfortunately, they were also confused. If there is ever a re-run of the play, perhaps they can polish the ending a little to keep it entertaining without the confusion. It won't be easy but they're smart people so anything is possible.

For me, the question now is one of waiting, waiting for the next opportunity to perform on stage. In many ways, it's superior to working for television or film because you're given every opportunity to develop the character, to always be working with your partners on set, and to always perform the role from start to finish without interruption. It's a great way to act.

My first stage performance was in 1997 with "Magic is the Moonlight" 「上海之夜」. My second performance was in 2002 with the "Teresa Tang Forever" musical 「但願人長久鄧麗君音樂劇」. "Perfume" 「香水」 was my third stage performance. Hopefully, I won't have to wait long for my fourth stage performance.