a Talk by Dr. Priscilla Tse
MON 22 APR 2024 | 4:30 PM

Title: “Learning History Through Theater”: Sociocultural Changes, Identities, and Agency in Hong Kong Cantonese Opera 

Time: 4:30 – 6:00 pm
Venue: LG04, Hui Yeung Shing Building

Delivered in English, all are welcome

Chinese opera (戲曲) has traditionally served as a means to impart moral values (高台教化); yet, theater is also a space where different ideologies and cultural ideals are negotiated and mediated. Although Cantonese opera (粵劇), a vernacular operatic genre in Hong Kong, is no longer a mainstream entertainment form in the 21st century, it remains a compelling example of theater as a contested space. This paper explores the responses of the Cantonese opera community in Hong Kong to sociocultural changes over the past two decades. Through an examination of recent productions of “Cantonese opera of modern Chinese history” (近代史粵劇), initiatives integrating Cantonese opera into history education, and interviews with performers, this ethnographic study delves into practitioners’ agency in navigating evolving identities along with the changing sociocultural significance of the opera.