Tear Gas is a play, a satire or skit I would call it, on the student involvement in the Occupy Protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for 40-odd days and more now and that have highlighted, though not directly caused, differences in stances of the people of Hong Kong on the issues raised and the movement itself – the Umbrella Movement.
Though this is a political play, it is mainly about people. It shows how a little group of connected individuals might be affected and the interplay of forces they feel enclosed by.
Quite un-likely characters so connected in this bit of fun with serious intent. The student who is mixed up with a gangster-like boyfriend who is a real horror… and her mum; a policewoman no less and one who has been with the police even from the times of the British occupation.
Then there is the scurrilous domestic helper always seeking a bit of quite naughty fun yet necessarily obedient to her employer – said policewoman! On the side she’s something of a musician-singer as a sufficient number of Filipinas are – and willing to entertain if given the chance, any chance – she’s ‘quite a girl’, and swears like fuck all the time.
The story – well can’t tell you the story can I but it involves daughter sneaking off to join the protests, the indignant mum sending the maid to get her back(that’s typical), the adventures of the maid, the problem, the declarations, the audience participation, and of course the tear gas – which is why I got only one photo of the event pre-gassing.
It’s a quintessentially Hong Kong production, by ‘the maid – played by Agit-Prop proponent and great singer Maryjane Alejo (and Us – meaning the Brave Heart Theatre group). Sandy Ho plays the hat changing student, mum-cum-policewoman who emboldens the dramatics with her playful Hongkonginess.
In its entirety, how better to portray something of such importance and intent such as this protest has become than by engaging the citizenry with a lot of daftness and asides, bad language and the brash ludic sense that’s a perfect fit for Hong Kong.
TEAR GAS! by Maryjane Alejo (and us) is showing at The Premium Sofa Club for 3 weeks starting 12 November 2014.
Venue: Premium Sofa Club, 212-216 Wing Lok Street (west side), Sheung Wan, Central, Hong Kong.
Who is (us)…. the Brave Heart Theatre group.
“We view this first event at the Premium Sofa Club is a ground-breaking project for Hong Kong. The aim of Brave Heart Theatre is to build a repertoire of local and international plays for reiterated performance by an English language drama troupe. For its opening season, it will be based at Premium Sofa Club in Sheung Wan, an intimate basement space where new and different social stuff happens.
“Brave Heart is what the Scots called Robert the Bruce, the man who broke the mould in restoring his nation’s independence against the colonizing British. In Chinese, Brave Heart translates as ‘English inside’,” Tom Hope, a Brave Heart.