West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre

Posted on March 3, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

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I only found out about the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre when it was about to wrap up, so I dragged my local graphic design friend ( who didn't even know about this) to visit the site on its last day.

Like I mentioned in my previous blog entry, Hong Kongers are now facing an 'identity crisis' and in recent years, locals have been trying to protect their unique local culture and heritage that is disappearing quickly.

Cantonese opera is a traditional Chinese art form, but like many other traditions arts and crafts, its popularity is slowly diminishing. In 2009, Cantonese opera was recognised by UNESCO as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. Hence, efforts have been put into reviving this art form in recent years by various arts organisations.

Last year, The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), a developing project that aims to promote arts and culture in Hong Kong, built a temporary bamboo theatre on the site of the Xiqu Centre, which will be dedicated to all forms of traditional Chinese performing arts. This year, the temporary bamboo theatre returned again for three weeks, hosting performances such as Cantonese opera, Chinese dance and contemporary music concerts.


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The proposed Xiqu Centre scheduled to be completed by 2016/ 17.


Outside of the theatre, there were many stalls with traditional craftsmen and young designers/ makers showcasing their crafts and designs. But the most impressive craftsmen of all was paper tearing artist, Uncle Man (Lee Shing Man), who is hailed as "The King of Paper Crafts" in Hong Kong.

Paper tearing is a traditional Chinese folk art, where special characters, pictures or shapes are torn from one single piece of paper without the use of scissors nor pencils. Without formal training, Uncle Man is able to create amazing and detailed art work by hand using recycled paper. My friend and I were completely astounded by Uncle Man's talent and precision, and I managed to find a video clip online here that showcases his craftsmanship.


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Top left: Handcrafted candies; top right: Hand-torn art pieces by Uncle Man; Main: Uncle Man at work


After wandering for a while, my friend and I decided to go for a drink nearby and we returned in the evening to watch part of the free Cantonese opera performance at the theatre. We were impressed by the construction of the 800-seat bamboo-scaffolding theatre, which was designed by one of my favourite local architects, William Lim, founder of CLS Architects.

As you can see from the photos, the theatre was even more stunning at night, especially with all the red and yellow lanterns hanging up in the air.


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Lastly, I want to mention the design of the free leaflet and DIY paper model being distributed at the venue. It is very well-thought out and it completely captures the essence of the event. Overall, I think the concept, design and organisation of the event was very successful and uniquely Hong Kong, I hope that there will be more similar events to come in the future.


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Free leaftlet and DIY paper model that can be picked up at the venue



This post was posted in Hong Kong, Architecture, Travel, Paper art & craft, Traditional arts & crafts, Theatre & performance art and was tagged with Hong Kong, architecture, paper craft, Hong Kong design, theatre