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作者: 来源: 日期:2016/8/29 8:24:57

Hong Kong backlash over soothsayer’s opera about Mao





Feng shui master Li Kui-ming believes he is pretty good at predicting the future, and the Chinese tycoons who pay up for his private consultations surely agree.



But the soothsayer, who also runs a Cantonese opera house, says he had no idea that his plan to stage a show about the life and love affairs of Mao Zedong, the founding father of Communist China, would spark an angry backlash from Hong Kongers.



When I started writing the opera a year ago, the situation was not as sensitive as it is now,” says Mr Li. “But things have changed and suddenly it made my production famous.”



Fears of growing interference by Beijing have sent relations between the mainland and semi-autonomous Hong Kong to their lowest ebb since the handover of the former British colony in 1997. So when Mr Li recently put up promotional posters featuring a cherubic image of Mao, it prompted condemnations from residents and an opposition politician who accused him of putting the “red star over Hong Kong”.



Mao’s reputation has been revived in modern mainland China, where the newly affluent visit theme parks and historical sites that glorify him, while avoiding the death, destruction and desolation that he wrought upon the nation.



Mr Li’s production runs the risk of being in equally bad taste, akin to Springtime for Hitler, the bawdy, Nazi-themed musical designed to be a flop, which was part of Mel Brooks’ 1968 satirical film The Producers.

李居明这部粤剧也有品味糟糕之虞,就像《希特勒的春天》(Springtime for Hitler)一样。这段低级的纳粹主题音乐剧是梅尔•布鲁克斯(Mel Brooks) 1968年的讽刺电影《制片人》(The Producers)的一部分,在片中是故意为了失败而制作的。


The 61-year-old feng shui master refuses to divulge the plot of his opera but promises glimpses into everything from Mao’s love life to his ablution habits. The show will also feature a “surprise” ending after he comes back from the dead to talk to Chiang Kai-shek, his losing adversary in the civil war that ended in 1949.



Mr Li says he read more than 150 books about Mao and watched countless documentaries while researching his script, absorbing so much information that he started “dreaming that I was a Red Guard”.



Wearing a snake-shaped golden ring and a Buddhist vest meant to bring luck, the impresario hopes the initial five-night run of Mao, which begins on China’s national day, October 1, will do well enough to generate interest abroad. He has previously written 24 Cantonese operas, some of which he toured in Singapore and Japan.



But he says high costs and an ever-shrinking audience mean he never makes any profit from the shows he produces at the historic, 1,000-seat Sunbeam Theatre, which he saved from closure in 2012 when he took on the HK$1m ($129,000) a month lease.

但他表示,高昂的制作成本和不断萎缩的观众群意味着,他从未从自己制作的粤剧中获得任何盈利。这些粤剧的演出地点是历史悠久、有1000个座位的新光戏院(Sunbeam Theatre)2012年,李居明以每月100万港元(合12.9万美元)的租金挽救了这家面临倒闭的剧院。香港翻译公司。


I can earn much money from feng shui,” he says, referring to wealthy clients such as Pan Sutong, a Chinese billionaire whom he advises on everything from architecture to the names of his prized horses. “But doing opera can only lose money. It’s our great culture in Hong Kong but only old ladies come to see it.”



Mrs Wu, a 75-year-old who regularly attends the Cantonese opera, says she is intrigued by the Mao show “because I want to know what happened a few decades ago, especially the part about the Red Guards”.



Mr Li says that if there are enough equally curious Hong Kongers, and not too many fights breaking out in the theatre, he will produce a Mao sequel and perhaps another opera about later Communist leaders.



What about Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom critics accuse of building a cult of personality to rival that of Mao?



Mr Xi has cracked down hard on his critics, including five Hong Kong booksellers who were abducted by Chinese security agents last year after they published works that questioned him.



That incident has shaken Hong Kong, where Beijing guaranteed freedom of speech for 50 years after 1997, and Mr Li is wary of upsetting Mr Xi.



Shaking his head, he says: “Oh no, we cannot touch him.”



Additional reporting by Gloria Cheung

Gloria Cheung补充报道