「中國皇后號」 Last words.

Filed in Events, The Empress of China 中國皇后號 (2011), Work

Just over one year ago, I was approached by a very nice gentleman at the HKREP to meet for a cup of coffee. They were planning a new stage play which involved Caucasian actors, one of which would need to speak significant amounts of Cantonese dialog. With 20 years of Cantonese television and five Cantonese stage productions behind me, I was perhaps their best hope. It was in the coffee shop at the Sheraton Hotel that I met with this gentleman and the script writer/director Sister Joanna.

Very little happened in that short meeting. It was a quick conversation and I was treated to a great plate of Fish & Chips. There were implied promises but nothing more. A short while later, I helped the HKREP to take publicity photos for "The Empress of China" and then heard nothing from them until October of 2010 when my part in the play was finally confirmed.

Rehearsals began in December, and it was a very tough eight weeks. Days into rehearsals, our beloved Beethoven was taken ill with Acute Pancreatitis, and we lost him several days later. Later in rehearsals, issues developed at home that complicated life for a while. Then in mid January, I became ill myself with the flu and fever. Unfortunately, my role was extremely challenging and I couldn't afford to take time off from rehearsals, so I attended even with my fever. After just a few shows at City Hall, our helper's father died and we had to send her home so that she could get the care she needed from her family, so the kids became my morning responsibility. Fortunately, our shows were all afternoon or evening shows, so I had time to look after them and take them for their walks.

The shows themselves were challenging. As an actor speaking in a language learnt as an adult, my dialog was challenging. I was speaking words and grammar that I had never used in my entire life. When you're filming tv or film, you can make mistakes and re-record, but when you're on stage, that's not an option, so the pressure was real. However, I was fortunate to be able to complete all of our shows without any significant mistakes, and I enjoyed almost every single show we performed.

As I've stated in previous posts, we had a special group of people involved in this play, a group of more than 25 actors including seven Caucasians. We had different attitudes, different techniques, different lifestyles and different roles, and yet we all respected each other and worked together extremely well. And we all had one important trait; we all respected the work and worked very hard to be the best we could be right up to the very last show, irrespective of our role in the play.

"The Empress of China" is now over, but it will always be one of the most significant highlights of my life.

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7 Responses to “「中國皇后號」 Last words.”
  1. shan says:

    How I wish to watch this play myself.. :)

  2. eugene says:

    I was there on 18th and did not want to leave at the end of the performance. That might be the proof of the success of the play. The first half especially the introduction to the historical background was too heavy and the second half is very good, especially the dance scene.

  3. Irene says:

    Hi~ 第一次來到你的blog
    一直都有看你在電視的演出...

    我看了中國皇后號的首演, 你的演出很出彩~ 謝謝!
    祝新春愉快! 工作順利~

  4. Ordman says:

    "I was speaking words and grammar that I had never used in my entire life"? 你指文言文?

    I can imagine the difficulty you experienced on the stage. If you ask me to play a skit in English, I may also have the difficulty. And if it is in Shakespeare's language, it will kill me.

  5. CINDY SZE says:

    Dear Kwok Wing:
    作為一個全職藝人, 你敬業樂業的精神實令人敬佩

    Best Regards
    Cindy

  6. Daniel says:

    國榮:

    我和太太看了"中國皇后號",你的表現非常出色,要你用中國古文唸那麼多台辭,對你來說的確是大挑戰,但顯然你是成功了。Congratulations.

    真難以想像如果你不演出這角色,還有誰可以演得來,和演得那麼出色!這個角色真是"非你莫屬"!

    Regards,
    Daniel
    PS: BTW, I know you had acted as the dialogue coach for Chow Yun-fat in a film. Which film was it?

  7. 河國榮 says:

    hello Daniel. thank you very very much for the kind words. it's very much appreciated.

    I helped 周潤發 for the movie Dragon Ball Z.

    cheers.