Preview-TEAR GAS!-Brave Heart Theatre




By: Meaghan McGurgan


Occupy Hong Kong has been the inspiration for many artistic projects. From Milk Tsang's Umbrella Man, to Mui Cheuk-yin's Dancing Umbrella Project, to mass scale street art like the Lennon Wall and the Stand by You: Oil Machine by Art Radar  - now it comes to a Sheung Wan underground venue these next three weeks, thanks to Maryjane Alejo, Sandy Lau and the creative team at Brave Heart Theatre.


Maryjane is an agit-prop artist, hailing from the Phillipines, and is no stranger to political or controversial material. Co-founder of Manila’s celebrated Tag-Ani agit-prop theatre troupe, she has also worked with Philippines theatre troupes such as Alay Sining, Tambisan, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and University of the Philippines' Dulaang UP. Sandy Lau is a local Hong Konger and a trombone-percussionist-chanteuse. These ladies were very excited to take on this hot button topic but were also sensitive to its sensitivities.


“There’s a risk that this show could be seen as belittling what people have been through – not just the tear gas and pepper spray but the collective trauma of the conflict and confrontation,” says Alejo. “My own sense is that it doesn’t. The play is very much concerned with how, ultimately, one finds a way to resolve the current impasse. The best way to find out, of course, is to come and judge for yourself.”


As the show's press release puts it, "through the theatrical medium of TEAR GAS!, Brave Heart Theatre at Premium Sofa Club offers a powerful platform upon which to explore the themes of some of the biggest challenges Hong Kong faces today."




Alejo expands: "With this material, I’m also able to explore the interface of the Philippines community here with Hong Kongers, and all the problems in this relationship – that Hong Kongers themselves have the very same problems, with a relatively hard time finding opportunities for work and to improve their general living conditions, just like me as a relative outsider."


Sandy Lau, as the Hong Kong perspective for the dynamic duo, has her own local take on what's happening with Occupy and what inspired her to participate in TEAR GAS!  "I am very inspired by and proud of the protesters, young and old, especially the students  – that they risk their lives and are able to withstand disagreements and criticisms from different generations and sectors of the Hong Kong community.  Their spirit and actions move me. Each time I have been to the protest sites, I felt they are doing something for many others who don’t even know what’s available for their own lives and for other people in other countries. With all this talk about damage to the Hong Kong economy, how can this special quality or value in the protesters be quantified?"


But when you can walk through the streets of Occupy Central and enjoy copious amounts of art for free, you might be wondering why you would want to go to a theatre and pay for it?  "Brave Heart is a new theatre project," explains Artistic Director Tom Hope "establishing a local theatre space for local people, actors and audience alike.  So we've got bills to pay, which is why we're charging the audience for admission - or, more precisely, participation."  



The show's publicity invites the audience to bring a protest-appropriate prop. What's that all about?  "The audience plays a big part in what happens - much like the Occupy protests,” says Hope, “which is why it’s credited as written by Maryjane Alejo and ‘us’.  We hope this will help people think things through and be entertained in the process."


TEAR GAS! is playing at Premium Sofa Club starting on November 12th through 28th. It plays on Wednesdays through Fridays only at 7pm and 9pm. Shows during preview week (12-14 Nov) are only 100HKD (if purchased online) and 150HKD if bought at the door, and are 200HKD(online)/250HKD(at the door) from then on. Tickets can be purchased at Admission also entitles you to free flowing beer, thanks to beer sponsor Scapia Scanda. 


Premium Sofa Club is located in Sheung Wan. For more information, click here.





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