City Stage is an anthology of recent Hong Kong English-language drama written for Hong Kong performers and audiences. All the plays were written in the last ten years and so capture and reflect the fast-developing multiculturalism of the Hong Kong scene—a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon in view of the 1997 return to China Mainland sovereignty.
The richness and diversity of the subject-matter, the wide range of theatre styles from the naturalistic to the highly stylized and quite simply the engaging quality of the dramatic writing, all make this anthology both an essential adjunct to the 2001 prose fiction and poetry collection City Voices and at the same time a ground-breaking, independent record of an incredibly fertile period in Hong Kong’s recent creative life history.
Thematically speaking, whilst all plays have their unique voice and subject-matter, it is accurate to say that the quest for personal and communal identity is a theme that goes to the heart of all present selections. The anthology is important in that it epitomizes the increasing interconnectedness of previously segregated facets of Hong Kong culture, indicating the very welcome tendency towards more open dialogue between Chinese and non-Chinese practitioners and audiences.
The anthology contains the complete texts of the shorter plays and strategically selected excerpts from the longer plays. All the texts in this collection were written as English-language versions for performance rather than literary translations, although for some a Chinese-language text was also written.
Mike Ingham has BA and master’s degrees in European literature and linguistics from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in English drama and literature from the University of Hong Kong. He came to Hong Kong in 1989, having previously lived and worked in Britain, Italy and The Canary Islands. He has taught English studies in the English department at Lingnan University since 1999. Previously he worked for the Hong Kong Education Department at the Institute of Language in Education and subsequently the Hong Kong Institute of Education, as well as teaching on the first MA in East-West theatre studies in Hong Kong. Speech development, literature and drama in education are his areas of professional expertise. He is a founder member of Theatre Action, a Hong Kong-based drama group that specializes in action research on more literary drama texts. Xu Xi, a Chinese-Indonesian native of Hong Kong, is one of Asia’s leading English-language writers. She is the author of six books: three novels, The Unwalled City (2001), Hong Kong Rose (1997) and Chinese Walls (1994), and three short fiction/essay collections, Overleaf Hong Kong (2004), History’s Fiction (2001) and Daughters of Hui (1996); she is also Hong Kong regional editor of Routledge’s Encyclopedia of Post-colonial Literature (second edition, 2005). Her work has been published in anthologies, journals, newspapers and also broadcast internationally. Awards include an O. Henry story selection, a New York State Arts Foundation fiction fellowship, a South China Morning Post story contest winner, as well as several writer-in-residence positions in Europe and North America. In 2004, she received the distinguished alumni award from her undergraduate alma mater, the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She holds a master of fine arts (MFA) in fiction from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is on the MFA fiction faculty at Vermont College in Montpelier. After eighteen years in international marketing and management, she left corporate life in favour of the writing life. She now inhabits the flight path connecting New York, Hong Kong, and the South Island of New Zealand.