Aug 09, 2012|
HK Magazine: Can you tell us a bit about “Spring” and its sequel?
Raymond To: I never expected the play to be so popular for so long. Over the past 20 years, it seems like people couldn’t forget “Spring” and kept remaking it. I believe it has been staged in almost all cities where Asians live—in the States, Canada and Southeast Asia. After I successfully produced such a well-received play, I wondered what else I should write to satisfy the diehard fans who have been waiting all these years. So I decided to write about the original four characters’ next generation. The play revolves around the friendship between Fung Ping’s son—Fung Ping died in the war back in “Spring”—and Lulu’s son. Anyone who loves something sentimental should like “Autumn.”
HK: What are your sources of inspiration?
RT: In the past, themes were provided by producers [for film scripts]. For example, when a film director approached me, he would usually tell me a particular kind of film he had in mind, like a ghost story or a kung fu story. But usually for drama scripts, [I write about] something that moves me a lot and propels me to write about it. I’m a very sentimental person who wishes to write something that moves other people and alleviates existing conflicts in our society.
HK: What is like seeing your written work realized on the stage?
RT: The most unforgettable experience is that when the curtain closes, you can tell the audience is genuinely appreciating my work with their applause. Audiences in Hong Kong are very cute—if they are really moved, they will encourage you by clapping their hands from the bottom of their heart.
HK: How did you end up becoming a playwright?
RT: Let me put it this way. When I first started working on dramas, I wasn’t that passionate, nor had I decided to write plays as a career. It was only later that I realized I had a talent in scriptwriting—I found that I wrote scripts more easily and quickly than others did.
HK: You’ve been an actor and radio announcer as well as a playwright—do you have a preference for one over the others?
RT: Being a playwright definitely suits me the best. The most difficult role would be being a frontline actor, because I prefer hiding. Maybe this is due to a lack of self-confidence, ever since I was small. Now you’re interviewing me, and I may seem very natural, but if you were to show me the recordings or the videotapes, I would immediately turn away. I just don’t like seeing myself. Maybe I’ve gotten used to not seeing things from my personal point of view. I can write you a 30-page script tonight and hand it in tomorrow, but I can’t write a self-introduction or biography in a night. I’m too used to stepping into the characters’ shoes.
HK: Any thoughts on the theater scene in Hong Kong?
RT: It’s actually quite good. Everyone is doing what they like; everyone has their own fans and market. I think the most important thing is that you have your own audience—a group that follows your genre of dramas. We are all blossoming together; the youngsters are gradually starting their own drama groups, and we, the elderly, continue to have our fans’ support. This is actually something rare.
HK: Your work is often adopted as educational material. How do you feel about this?
RT: I am happy about it. But at the same time, it adds a bit of pressure. It reminds me not to write anything that’s borderline taboo. I can write something sexual if I have to! But given all this recognition and years of [my material] being taught in schools, of course now I stick to things that are educational and positive.
HK: What are your future plans?
RT: Not much, to be honest. I’m only thinking about the showing of “Autumn,” and I do look forward to seeing how popular it will be. Afterwards, I’m not sure if I will live to write “I Have a Date with Winter”! There are many years left for me to write a lot more scripts.
Catch “I Have a Date with Autumn” through Aug 19