When COVID wreaked havoc, artists explored new ways to create art, pondering how arts could still foster connection when we were not in the same space. Society has returned to normal, but how can we deepen the lessons learnt?

For this year’s New Vision Arts Festival line-up, COVID may have provided us with blessings in disguise. Take for example the opening programme Double Murder by Hofesh Shechter. Consisting of two halves of contrasting styles, the choreographer aims to convey a message through this double-bill: only hope can counter loneliness and rupture. As simple as it seems, his reflection echoes more now than ever after the pandemic. I invite all of you to stay till the final moments of the show: there will be a pleasant surprise!

Celebrated Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou appears in INK on a water-filled stage along with the young German dancer Šuka Horn. INK was initiated at the start of the pandemic: Horn was stranded in Greece, thus furnishing the opportunity for the two artists to become close collaborators. Another work, Tao of Glass, is co-created by minimalist music legend Philip Glass and award-winning director Phelim McDermott. Although both are masters of their own trade, they are unafraid to share their vulnerabilities with the audience.

We see wonderful fruits borne of cultural exchange despite the pandemic. Patrick Chiu and Ivanhoe Lam recast Bach’s St. John Passion into contemporary theatre that received rave reviews last year at its premiere in the composer’s home country. Seeing Hong Kong artists attain such success brings us much pride. The vocal theatre Book of Mountains and Seas is also a masterpiece, with music by Huang Ruo and puppetry by American master Basil Twist, recounting ancient Chinese myths: Hou Yi shooting down nine suns certainly resonates with our climate crisis today. The Once and Future is a collaboration across disciplines and cultures that raises the perennial question: what does it mean to be truly human. Japanese choreographer Ryu Suzuki partners with visual artist Shinji Ohmaki and sound artist evala in RAIN, a work that shines a light on human relationships in light of the pandemic. Under the collaboration between NVAF and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Suzuki travelled to Hong Kong to select dancers for this performance; we are grateful for their dedication in realising this meaningful cultural exchange. A visual dimension is added to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 in William Kentridge’s Oh, To Believe In Another World, with multimedia projections of historical icons appearing before our eyes. Thank you, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, for bringing this fine work to us.

Two local teams offer us much delight. Yuen Siu-fai and Tang Shu-wing, esteemed in their respective fields of Cantonese opera and theatre, bring The Old Man and His Sea, a production inspired by Hemingway’s classic. The multi-talented pop music producer Hanjin Tan has carved out niches in television, art-tech and Web3 recently. This time, Hanjin joins Banky Yeung in a theatrical rhapsody about the search for inspiration.

Apart from masterclasses, workshops and stage tours directly related to festival offerings, we curate two series — “Weekend Culture Salon” and “Online Reviews” — with the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), where pre- and post-performance events make the audience experience complete. Now that the performing arts has returned to live theatre, we are committed to connecting artists, audience and people from all walks of life under the same roof.

Anne Tsai
Senior Manager, Festivals Office
Leisure and Cultural Services Department

New Vision Arts Festival 2023