Artist of The Month- May- Jim Brockman

Jim Brockman returns to the stage after taking a hiatus since Shakespeare in The Port in 2015. Following this break, Jim is excited not only to be onstage again but to be playing the lead part in The 39 Steps. The show, a highly comedic murder mystery presented by Aurora Theatre, opens at the Fringe on May 31 through June 2. Read more about Jim's background, and hit Ticketflap to get your tickets to the show!




1. Name, Birthplace, age:  


Jim Brockman; Hong Kong; 39 years old



2. How does where you were raised affect your work? 


I was raised in both Hong Kong and in the UK. One might, therefore, expect that I’d hold more cachet with the UK and the West End for example but, actually, HK has served my interests in the Arts very well over the years. This is, despite the city being characterized in the 80’s to be a bit like yoghurt – that is, uncultured. I was fortunate enough to cut my teeth on drama at the German-Swiss school and also participated in numerous after-school or holiday drama courses run by the HKAPA as a child, with the most memorable one being run by the mime artist Nola Rae. By the time I left for the UK as a teenager, HK had already given me a healthy dose of positive theatrical experiences for me to build on.3. 



3. Where did you train?


I haven’t been trained in the traditional sense but rather, in a messy roundabout fashion, at my own pace, convenience and whim. A Theatre Studies A-level served me well till university, where I performed and directed in a host of drama society shows outside of my English Literature degree. During and after my studies I also got into opera and ventured to sing tenor for 3 productions with the English Touring Opera. This lead to enrolling on a number of short courses at the Royal Opera House and a two-year stint as a crew member for the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. 





4. What is your favorite style of theatre? Why?


Well, I do like to be jammed into an emotional mincer when I watch or perform in a play. I like to be made to think, or to be made uncomfortable, bewildered too and most of all - to laugh. Epic Theatre ticks all those boxes for me. I used to loathe Brecht at school but since then, I’ve been a bit of a convert to the cause. In fact, you could argue that The 39 Steps (our upcoming show), has a few moments where the writers of the play seem to doff their caps to Epic Theatre. Even though it’s essentially a slick farce, the fourth wall gets well and truly broken a few times, leaving plenty of room for the audience to observe the play rationally, (while wetting themselves with laughter no doubt.)



5. What was the best show you EVER saw? 


Impossible question to answer. So I’ll just pick one out of dozens I could equally choose without any further thought - I know – how about?… Erm… Lindsay Posner’s Noises Off by Michael Frayn. I saw this nearly 10 years ago in London on the West End. It was tight.



6. What was the best show in HK you EVER saw? 


That’s easy.  Samuel Beckett’s Endgame with Michael Harley. Not the 90’s one he directed but the one where he played Hamm in the mid-2000’s at the Fringe. I was living in Macau at the time and made the jetfoil journey especially because I love the play, (and have directed it myself). Anyway, he set a new Hamm-standard for me with this show. Great stuff.



7. What piece of work are you the proudest?


It’ll have to be a toss-up between my pirate portrayal aged 9 in G&S’s The Pirates of Penzance; Pinter’s The Birthday Party at Uni I directed to mild acclaim; or my physically demanding part as a monosyllabic patient in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest a few years ago, here in HK.



8. What is your process like?


I’m not sure really. I try not to set anything in stone to avoid cornering myself down boring cul-de-sacs of repeated actions from play to play. Of course, it will usually depend on the show, or director and how my character fits into it all. However, for me, the script and the text must be the first step in the process, Stanislavski-style prep next, followed by the inevitable director-led scolding that the lines haven’t been done; ending with the last month where everything comes together before the run. 




9. What is your dream project?


I think that would have to be writing, producing, set-designing, directing, starring in (and maybe even singing the theme-tune for…) a ‘Coarse Acting’ show here in HK, or anywhere else really. To explain, coarse acting is a method of acting whereby one does one’s best to act badly, commit foul acts of woodenness, clichéd staging and where poorly-built flats and props come down suddenly or break entirely. Yes, it’s supposed to be funny, and the audience is left wondering if the production is actually meant to be so bad, disaster-strewn and so on. Check out The Art Of Coarse Acting by Michael Green if you want to learn more.



10. What do you think about the arts and theatre scene in Hong Kong?

It’s certainly moved on from its yoghurt pot phase now and has all the signs that the scene is on the up and up. However, there is always a danger that audience numbers may fall further due to ever-spiralling rates for venues and other similar factors. I suppose more government funding for the arts is one way to keep both scenes relevant. Nevertheless, I’d say there’s not much to be worried about when glancing at a listing-site to see just how much culture is on offer in this city of ours today.




The 39 Steps opens on May 31 through June 2 at the Fringe Underground Theatre. Tickets available at Ticketflap. For more information, click here. 


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