Reverie of an Empire is based on the short-lived, 83-day reign of Yuan Shikai beginning in December 1915, when he took to heart a geomancer’s advice to follow Heaven’s decree, accede to popular demand, and ascend the Imperial throne. All of these actions resulted in utter chaos for the nation. The script focuses on the human psyche, of thoughts and deeds surrounding Yuan Shikai’s proclamation as Emperor: Was it motivated by political ambition? Was everything predetermined by geomancy and fate? Did circumstances make the man or was he simply deceived? What made Liang Qichao, Duan Qirui, Feng Guozhang—supporters and associates of Yuan—eventually turn against him? Yuan ran a tight household with numerous wives, but did these skills translate into ruling a nation? Amidst political turmoil, is anyone spared?
Reverie of an Empire is the second major production to commemorate the 1911 Revolution this season, says Artistic Director Anthony Chan. He explains, “The HKRep intentionally scheduled two productions to highlight events before and after the 1911 Revolution. While Boundless Movement restaged the heroic deeds of those martyrs at Huanghuagang, Reverie of an Empire centres around a modern historical character often vilified as a dictator and traitor. After the 1911 Revolution, Yuan went against republican ideals, eventually alienating friends and family, leading to his death shortly thereafter. His desire to become Emperor, his scheming ploys to establish a dynasty, and how his hopes were dashed are chronicled in this drama. These events that have far-reaching consequences are food for thought for all of us. I hope to use the viewpoints of country, family, and human character to portray Yuan Shikai, providing the audience with fresh perspectives. Apart from coming face to face with that tumultuous era, we could reexamine Yuan’s achievements and failures.”
About Director: Lee Ming Sum
A graduate of the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, Lee Ming Sum has taught at such illustrious institutions as the Central Conservatory of Music, Opera Department of the China Conservatory of Music and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, having served as board member and Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies. Lee has directed classics from East and West in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Macau, Shanghai and Beijing. The musical Dream of a Young Girl (1996), written and directed by Lee, won “Top Ten Most Popular Productions”
Reverie of An Empire
^27, 30-31.8, 1-3, 6-10.9.2011 - 7:45PM
#28.8, 3-#4, 10-11.9.2011 - 2:45PM
^Exclusive performance sponsored by Association of China Trend Studies (HK) Ltd. (Not available for public sales)
Hong Kong City Hall Theatre
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Established in 1977 and incorporated in 2001 as an independent company, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre is the largest professional theatre company of its kind in Hong Kong. It is a registered non-profit-making organisation.