Arts Festival to see equal local-external performance distribution

This year’s Macao Arts Festival will have half of its shows performed by local crews and casts, Leong Wai Man, president of the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC), announced yesterday.

The IC president made this announcement in response to a question from the press at the program showdown event of the festival.

One reason for not having a larger-scale festival and more performers from outside Macau is that preparations and invitations for a festival usually start a year or even longer before the start of the actual festival, Leong said. Since border normalization only happened late last year, the IC did not have much time to invite more overseas performers.

This year’s festival that has a budget of MOP22 million will rely on many local efforts. For example, the Patuá drama has been appointed the closing show of the festival. Patuá is a creole unique to Macau, with elements from Portuguese and Asian languages, such as Cantonese, Malay and Hindi.

The cultural official also pointed out that, in future, the festival will focus on promoting progress in the local art circle and cultivating improvements across the local art population, in addition to attracting more overseas performers as a priority.

Parallel to the closing event, the opening event is Rite of Spring by Chinese dancer Yan Liping, who brings the reinterpretation of the century-old work by Stravinsky, premiered in Paris, to the stage of Macau, in collaboration with an array of international artists, making artistic breakthroughs through combining inspiration from the East and the West.

Leong pointed out that the organizers of the festival had been longing to curate a spectacular opening event, but that Covid-19 border restrictions have obstructed their plans.

The IC president also pointed to On the Substance of Time by the Portuguese Contemporary Dance Company, saying that the deal was closed within a very short time after Macau’s sudden elimination of quarantine requirements.

For the show, Portuguese choreographers Vasco Wellenkamp and Miguel Ramalho transform verses of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen into dance routines, making lives sparkle through the dancers’ bodies and movements.

Several more masterpieces will be staged at the festival, including Electra, jointly revived by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and a Greek-based production team based on the classic play by Sophocles, one of the three great ancient Greek tragic poets: the classic story of revenge and justice.

Experimental Cantonese opera Farewell My Concubine, produced by the Xiqu Centre, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, reinvents the legendary story of the downfall of Xiang Yu, the self-proclaimed “Overlord of Western Chu” from a new narrative perspective.

Chinese stage director Liu Fangqi, known for his highly successful plays, brings his heart-warming theatrical adaptation from one of the three masterpieces by Higashino Keigo: The Miracles of the Namiya General Store.

Meanwhile, the bureau would consider the proposal of offering discounted tickets  directly with credit card brands, so as to align with the government’s overall direction of enticing overseas tourists.

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