Plays for Young People: Symposium & workshop — playwrights from the new silk route and emerging translators from Hong Kong

As an essential aspect of the Belt and Road Initiative, The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection (AFTEC) has embarked on a ground-breaking project in building connectivity between Eastern and Western Culture through the Plays for Young People programme.

Plays for Young People is an event whereby emerging translators in Hong Kong have the luxurious opportunity of engaging first-hand with some of the best playwrights* from One Belt One Road countries – including China, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey – for the very first time alongside Oscar Fung, a young local playwright and Vicki Ooi, AFTEC’s Artistic Director.

As a bilingual Life Learning TheatreTM with a special focus on youth development, AFTEC has created this event to draw together those with a shared passion for theatre and the understanding of the need for quality plays written specifically for young people.

AFTEC strongly believes in widening the vision of young people to beyond this city’s borders and to comprehend and recognise other cultures, their similarities and diversities. Through working closely with practitioners and playwrights from these countries, we hope to be able to take further steps in a sustainable journey in which the plays, in English and in translation, will be offered to schools, youth centres and tertiary institutions for staging and meaningful discussions.

Jonathan Meth, founder & curator of The Fence, an international network of playwrights, together with the above mentioned overseas artists, local veteran translators and the emerging translators, will lead a four-day symposium and workshop on March 1-4, 2018 at the Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre.

The four-day symposium and workshop will deepen the participants’ understanding of the cultural, historical, geographical and social aspects of each country through discussion and sharing about the inspiration and influences for the playwrights, exploration on cultural issues, ideas and issues of each of the countries that the young people will encounter. Moreover, in-depth exchange will also focus on different elements of writing including the rhythm and tone affecting the translation process.

*Please see biography of the playwrights from the One Belt One Road countries listed at the bottom of this press release.

Media enquiries: Christina Cheng, Head of Marketing & Publicity (25201716 / 9193 2114 | christina@aftec.hk)

About AFTEC
The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection (AFTEC) is a bilingual Learning Theatre™ and non-profit arts organisation dedicated to nurturing the next generation of youth. We believe in the power of the arts to inspire, motivate and transform, and use an integrated arts-in-education approach to enhance education and encourage learning. Established in 2008 as a registered charity, we have reached over 160,233 audience members and participants through our diverse programmes to date, and have been the Venue Partner of the Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre under the LCSD Venue Partnership Scheme since 2009.

AFTEC was selected as a top 10 high impact NGO in the PwC Community Mentoring Programme on social impact assessment in 2015, recipient of HK Arts Development Council’s Arts Education Award 2013-14, and is financially supported by the Springboard Grant (2015-17) under the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

About “Plays for Young People”
Plays for Young People invites emerging translators (from students of translation majors to individuals interested in the translation of plays) the exceptional opportunity to partner with professional playwrights/dramaturgs to translate unique plays specifically written for young people, under the mentorship of veteran local translators.

Thanks to the Hong Kong Government’s Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme, in 2016 AFTEC had the opportunity to create the first project with two playwrights from Sweden and the United Kingdom respectively and a dramaturg from each of those countries as well. Since 2017, schools and youth centres have started working with these plays in English or Chinese through AFTEC’s Young Theatre Makers Scheme.

Biography of the playwrights from the “Belt and Road” countries:

Milena Bogovoc
Playwright, Serbia

For the last six years, Milena has completely orientated herself towards working with young people, focusing on writing and directing youth theatre productions. She is dedicated to developing methods of collective writing together with her young associates, as well as using workshop methods and games with youth participants to create documentary materials that she later shapes into full scripts. Two years ago, Milena started teaching dramaturgy and screen play writing at Artimedia, a unique high school in Serbia that focuses on arts. Milena counts herself as the only high school playwriting teacher in Serbia, as Artimedia is the only arts specialist high school in the country. She is particularly enthusiastic to work with teenagers. With this belief, she started producing highly appreciated theatre performances involving young performers, including her play Macho Men, which has been touring since it was first staged in 2012. There have been over 110 performances and the production team has received numerous awards. The performers in the piece were high school students at the time when the play was staged, and are now all on their way to becoming theatre professionals – some of them are students in local theatre academies while others have already become professional actors or directors.

Hasan Erkek
Playwright, Turkey

Professor Hasan Erkek is a poet, a playwright and a professor of drama. He has been awarded more than 20 prizes for his work and has published 25 artistic and scientific books in 13 different countries (Turkey, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Croatia, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Azerbaijan, and Hong Kong).

His works as an academic has focused on the art of drama. His plays have been performed in more than 40 theatres around the world, including Turkish national theatres. Furthermore, he has written radio plays (approximately 20 of his radio plays have been broadcast by national radios in Turkey) and film scripts.

One of his specialist fields is theatre for children and young people. Erkek has taken part and presented papers in many international theatre festivals and symposiums. He has more than a hundred articles published in various journals and newspapers. He has delivered play reading, dramaturgy, dramatisation, creative writing, drama techniques and contemporary theatre courses in various departments of universities.

Hasan Erkek was an Executive Board Member and Vice-president of ASSITEJ Turkey, and the president of the Turkish Playwrights and Play Translators Association as well as the Head of the Department of Performing Arts at Anadolu University.

Deng Lipeng
Playwright, Xi’an

Deng has been writing scripts for both stage and screen performances since 1990. He was the visiting scholar and the Director of the arts centre at Xi’an International University, Vice-chairperson of the Shaanxi Theatre Association and Deputy General Secretary of the China Petroleum Association of Cultural and Arts Workers. Deng is an expert in writing short comedy sketches and crosstalk pieces. His work Qiangke (Competing for customers), Kan Shengqi (Viewing the flag-raising ceremony), Kuaile Xiaozhan (Happy station) was broadcast in Quyuan Zatan, a well-known China Central Television (CCTV) programme which has regularly shown excellent Chinese folk performances for many years. Deng has been awarded numerous playwright and director prizes by different performing arts bodies. His awarded pieces include Zhao Dadang (Finding a partner), Xinbian Juzhongyuan (Hiding in the cabinet: new edition) and Huijia (Going home), among others. In addition to short comedy sketches and crosstalk pieces, Deng also writes TV dramas and movies.

Oscar Fung
Playwright, Hong Kong

Oscar Fung is a passionate practicing theatre artist. He is the Associate Director of AFTEC specialising in original productions and also supporting AFTEC as an arts tutor for theatre workshops in its arts learning and participation programmes. Oscar also supports and supervises in AFTEC’s theatre productions in creative, design and production aspects. He has acquired a lot of experience in script writing for stage performances in Hong Kong since 2007. In addition to writing theatre plays, he was also involved in script writing for TV and movie productions recently. Oscar has worked with different organisations, including primary and secondary schools, theatre groups, commercial companies and some social welfare institutes, mostly managing the technical production and stage aspects. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours in Technical Direction from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and has been an intern in the technical departments of New York Artist Unlimited and Macau Zaia.

Dr Vicki Ooi
Artistic Director of AFTEC / Playwright, Hong Kong

Vicki Ooi began teaching Theatre and English in the English Department of the University ofHong Kong (HKU) in 1971 and retired after almost 30 years. She was instrumental in founding the Drama Lab at HKU where many generations of Hong Kong directors and actors were nurtured. In 2008, she was appointed the University Artist in Drama by HKU.

As a well-known theatre director in Hong Kong for over 30 years, Vicki Ooi was one of the earliest directors to introduce western plays in translation on the Hong Kong stage. She has directed many plays for her own company, Seals Players Foundation, as well as guest directed for theatre companies in and outside of Hong Kong. She has won theatre awards, served on the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and published widely on theatre and cultural policy research.

In 1992, she founded the Hong Kong chapter of the International Association of Theatre Critics, whose mother body is UNESCO. This society is still ongoing. From 2000 to 2002, Vicki Ooi was invited to apply her experience in writing a resource package called Let’s Experience and Appreciate Drama (LEAD) for the Primary Schools English Development Pilot project. It provided teachers with effective strategies on how to use drama to facilitate
the learning and teaching of English.

Since December 2008, Vicki Ooi has been the Artistic Director of The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection (AFTEC). She has directed professional actors in the AFTEC English Learning & Participation series: The Jockey Club “From Page to Stage®” Programme. She has directed over 30 AFTEC productions since 2009. In addition, she is nurturing youth theatre in Chinese as part of AFTEC’s bilingual philosophy.

In 2012, Vicki Ooi gave a presentation in Worlds Together Conference organised by the Tate, the British Museum and the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. In the conference, she spoke on Glo-calisation: A Decade of Drama in Shakespeare4All.

Thomas Lawson
Playwright, the United Kingdom

Thomas Lawson graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London in 2015, finishing his last year as the lead in Market Boy by David Eldridge. Previous professional credits include Peter Pan (Polka Theatre), We Were Kings (Edinburgh Fringe), Blind Summit’s Citizen Puppet (New Diorama) and Sarah and Duck’s Bigtop Birthday (Piece Hall, Halifax). Whilst working for AFTEC as a Drama Practitioner and Tutor, he performed in Les Miserables, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, Jane Eyre, Twelfth Night, King Arthur, Franky and Gulliver’s Travels. Thomas is currently on a UK tour of Sarah and Duck’s Bigtop Birthday.

Dragana Tripković
Playwright, Montenegro

Dragana Tripkovic is a poet and dramaturg. She was born in 1984, at Montenegro (Southeast Europe). She graduated from the Faculty of Performing Arts, University of Montenegro – from the department for Dramaturgy, TV and Film Scenario. She is a one of the founders and artistic directors of the theatre group ATAK (Alternative Theatre Active Company) in Podgorica, Montenegro. She was a dramaturg at Montenegrin National Theatre. She is now working as a dramaturg at the City Theatre of Podgorica, in the capital city of Montenegro. She has published several books of poetry in Montenegro and Croatia. Her poems have been translated into English, German, Russian, Italian, Polish, Latvian, Macedonian and
Albanian languages. Her works have been published within a national project edition of contemporary Montenegrin writers called “Nova luča”.

She is a member of Montenegrin PEN Centre, Montenegrin Association of Independent Writers, and the vice president of the National Television Council.

Andreea Vălean
Playwright, Romania

Andreea Vălean is a well known playwright and theatre director. She graduated from the Academy of Theatre and Film, Bucharest and is one of the founder members of dramAcum, one of the forefront projects in the field of contemporary theatre in promoting young directors and emerging playwrights. She is also an appreciated and awarded scriptwriter and producer in cinematography. She is interested in writing about people whose story has not been performed. Characters depicted by her pen include juvenile offenders in prisons, Roma children from villages without electricity who do not even know how to write, Jewish people sold or not by Ceaușescu to Israel state in the 70s, prostitutes from the Bucharest’s beltway,
and priests expelled from the Romanian Orthodox Church. Her theatre play When I Want To Whistle, I Whistle was turned into the Berlinale Silver Bear-winning film by Florin Șerban in 2010.