By Arthur Tam
Taikoo Place is gearing up for its next tenant engagement programme, "PROJECT AFTER 6: Cube Culture". For the first time, anyone living or working in Quarry Bay will have an opportunity to audition and be a part of the one-hour musical-comedy production to be staged at ArtisTree in May 2018. The theatre show will be centred around office culture and current Hong Kong issues.
Directing and writing the production is the founder of the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (YAF), Lindsey McAlister, who is collaborating with Nick Harvey – a BAFTA- and Emmy award-winning composer and YAF alumni – to create the music. We catch up with McAlister to talk about the production.
How did this collaboration with Swire Properties begin?
Swire Properties (SPL) and YAF have been working together for over 20 years. The wonderful thing about SPL is they give you lots of artistic freedom. As an artist, that’s very valuable. When they re-opened ArtisTree at Cambridge House, they suggested that YAF get involved in a couple of commissioned pieces for the new space, one of which is Cube Culture. The name Cube Culture relates to office cubicles, but it also relates to sugar cube, referencing Swire’s sugar heritage. I am fascinated by the whole concept surrounding office culture because I’m in the arts and don't work in a proper office. So, I want to create something that reflects office culture and also pokes fun at it. I want to create a comedy musical featuring snapshots and vignettes of different things happening in an office. It’s like putting a jigsaw together; you create all these different pieces, and I'm like the jigsaw master, putting all these pieces together.
Initially, what motivated you to encourage people to engage in the arts?
In the arts, you can never be wrong. You might not understand, or you might not appreciate it, but you can't say, "I'm sorry that's wrong". And so when people get involved in the arts, it increases their self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem. If you're in an office all day, you're working in a very structured environment and that’s when arts could liberate you. For performers, this is a chance to almost recreate who they are, and they're playing different characters. It can change you as a person. The work I do is all about transformation.
How are you going to work with amateurs with various skill levels and backgrounds?
At YAF, every young person has different skill level, not all of them are trained and that's the way I'm accustomed to working. I’ll be applying all the things I do with a group of students to a group of adults. Part of my role will be giving them training during the process, so what I’m looking for are people with passion and commitment. I want people to say: “I can’t wait for work to finish because tonight is rehearsal night!" I’m looking for potential; I’m not looking for a finished performer.
Can you tell us about the audition process?
Auditions are going to be very lovely and not scary at all. It’s not like Britain’s Got Talent, and there is certainly not going to be a Simon Cowell. Everything I do is about empowering individuals and finding the good in a person. Auditionees will get to share a little bit about themselves, then they will sing. Then there’s the movement aspect. The way I approach it is very organic. For example, a scene may be set in the MTR, when someone is going to work. You don't have to be a dancer to do that because it's more about the movement. It's physical theatre.
What’s your advice for those who are auditioning?
Just go for it. There's no point coming to an audition and feeling insecure and feeling like you’re not good enough.
Application and audition dates:
Application period: now - 8 Sep
First round audition: 14 & 15 Sep
Second round audition: 21 & 22 Sep
Three master classes, led by theatre performance professionals with the focus on theatre singing, acting, and body movement, will be held in October 2017. All auditionees will be given priority to attend these classes.
For enrolment and further details regarding "PROJECT AFTER 6: Cube Culture", go to projectafter6.com/musical