Preview- The Unknown Soldier- Stylus Productions



Adam Harris and Stylus Productions are on stage again after quite a long hiatus, and the long-term local actor is proud to present "The Unknown Soldier" by Ross Ericson.  Mr. Harris is not a newbie when it comes to solo performances, as he has already introduced shows like "Underneath The Lintel" and "Vincent" to the local stage.



This year marks an important centenary; all over the world, the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Great War is being acknowledged through film, theatre and ceremony.  Mr. Harris wanted Hong Kong theatreland to be part of that. "I came upon this play entirely by chance whilst browsing in the Samuel French bookshop in London and it hooked me in a heartbeat. "Journey’s End" perhaps the most famous of WW1 plays, which I directed in 2007 has lived long in my memory, and I am excited to return to the era. Whenever you choose a play you are looking for well, drama, and what is more dramatic a backdrop than that appalling conflict?"



"The Unknown Soldier" is a beautiful, humane piece of writing that, among the sadness of the war, it stresses friendship as the ultimate weapon.



"We see humanity and integrity surviving the horror of the trenches. The action is actually set two years after the end of the conflict and we see Jack Vaughan, a world-weary sergeant now working for the Labour Corps but still very much haunted by his experiences, struggling with an act of friendship that he has just carried out. Not to give too much away but the central question is whether The Unknown Warrior buried in Westminster Abbey was indeed that, unknown".



Performing any show in Hong Kong comes with a lot of challenges. Performing a one-man show is even harder, as Mr. Harris knows:

"This is my third, and I have learned lessons along the way. Obviously getting a 30-page monologue under your belt takes a few hours at the coalface but a far more significant challenge is to engage an audience for 90 minutes with nowhere to hide. It takes every trick in the acting book. Did I say trick? I meant technique. Like saving our Hong Kong tax money, a one-man takes self-discipline which is in itself challenging. Having said all that, you are spared the ultimate challenge of staging a larger cast production, which is getting the sods in the same room at the same time for rehearsals" - (as some of us know well, especially the editor.....).



While there is an excellent element of remembrance to this piece, Mr. Harris is very keen that audiences enjoy it as a piece of theatre in its own right. "I am not aspiring to perform a documentary up there. There is a wonderful story being told at the play’s core that will make people look at one of the most famous legends of the conflict in a new light. It is easy to regard World War 1 as ancient history but, as I allude to in my programme notes, we all still live under its shadow and that includes, oh it very much includes, a Hong Kong audience in the 21st Century. People wanting a night of mirth and merriment better perhaps stay away although a wry, ironic humour does permeate the script. As I have returned to researching the period and learning this part I have found that what those men went through does help me to put my modern woes and stresses into some kind of favourable perspective."





The production is supported by The Globe and Lamma Island Bar, and features the lighting design of Andy Burt, together with the stage managing of Mae Lim. "A special mention goes to the good citizens of Lamma who have tolerated a crazy man in their midsts for the last few weeks, muttering and chuntering away to himself in the street and on the ferry. Toby and Brad also deserve a special mention as I am always incredibly grateful for sponsorship, particularly in a town drowning in money but where the arts are shamefully underfunded."



All proceeds from the box office will be donated to Amnesty International. "It seems appropriate that one of the darkest hours in human history should raise money for an organisation that fights tirelessly for a brighter future", Mr. Harris concludes. "I can say that there will be free wine available (donations optional) and a large WW1 bookshop of my research materials being sold off for the same charity."



A night of theatre, books and wine always sounds good to us.

"The Unknown Soldier" opens this Friday at the McAulay Studio. The first performance is sold out, but tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday. For more information, click here. 


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