From two pairs of mice, a utopian experiment devolves into a hell… Site-specific theatre and an audio guide combine for a new and innovative theatre form.
The extinction of The Beautiful Ones…?
In the 1960s, there was a sociological experiment called the ‘mouse utopia’. The mice were put in an enclosure with no predators, unlimited food, but a limited amount of space. For a while, the mice bred peacefully. But once the mouse population reached a certain density, their behaviour started to change…
They stopped breeding, started to kill their own children, and some stopped interacting. These would only eat, groom themselves and stay isolated in their own small spaces. These were called ‘The Beautiful Ones’
We cannot escape the density of urban space and lifestyle, in this crowded lifestyle technology develops quickly, and we have stopped communicating, depending instead on the small screens of our phones to escape the reality of our cramped spaces.
Are we gradually turning into ‘The Beautiful Ones’?
A new theatre experience
The show is divided into two parts, making use of both the city environment as well as a black box theatre. The show explores our living environment, its relationship to technology and the effect these have on our behaviour. The first half takes the form of a guided audio tour. The audience will need to use their mobile phones (iOS 8.0 or above / Android 4.0 or above) and headphones. They will then be invited to download our app (wifi will be provided), and it will help them through the process of following to the guide, beginning in San Po Kong’s Tai Yau Street. The second half takes place in We Draman’s black box theatre, which will give the audience a chance to sit down – the performance involves physical theatre, polyphonic song and Greek myth.
- Hong Kong Theatre Libre Best Scenography (Won)
- Hong Kong Theatre Libre Best Director (Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li) (Nominated)
- The audience needs to bring their own smartphone (iOS 8.0 or above / Android 4.0 or above) and headphones.
- The audience will be required to remain standing and to walk around in the streets.
- Because of the need to walk alone in the streets, the show is only suitable for those of 12 years and over.
- All rights reserved by Rooftop Productions Ltd.
- Friday, 11 December 2015 20:00
- Sunday, 20 December 2015 15:00
- Sunday, 13 December 2015 20:00
- Monday, 14 December 2015 20:00
- Tuesday, 15 December 2015 20:00
- Wednesday, 16 December 2015 20:00
- Saturday, 12 December 2015 20:00
- Friday, 18 December 2015 20:00
- Saturday, 19 December 2015 20:00
- Saturday, 12 December 2015 15:00
- Sunday, 13 December 2015 15:00
- Thursday, 17 December 2015 20:00
We Draman Black Box Theatre
3/F, Cheong Tai Industrial Building, Tai Yau St, San Po Kong
- Directors: Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li.
- App Designer: Ivor Houlker.
- Collaborating Actors: 2+1, Isabella Leung, Bon Tong, Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li.
- Lighting Designer: Samuel Chan.
- Graphic Designer: Alfie Leung.
- Promotion Photographer: Ivor Houlker.
- Promotion Makeup Artist: Cherrie Sze-to.
- Acknowledgements: We Draman.
Tonight, 'The Beautiful Ones', the debut work of Rooftop Productions, completed a rirual for us to reflect on the relationships between different individuals.
Indeed, the power of the performance will lead you to an unlimited space of thought.
If Rooftop Productions continue to develop their work in this style, within 10 years time, they will become one of the most important groups who create local high-quality fringe theatre performances.
As a whole, the show was clever and thought provoking, the performance well rehearsed, slick and very engaging – I wish I had the chance to go again and take the tour in a different group for a different view point.
Artistic Directors' Notes
The Beautiful Ones is Rooftop Productions’ first public production as a company. We set ourselves up in Hong Kong at the end of last year with a vision to make work that is innovative and unique. Our work is informed by our international training and experience in contemporary theatre making, but we hope to go beyond this, making work that is fresh, original and specific to Hong Kong.
The ideas of site-specific theatre are also fundamental to our creative work. By allowing ourselves to be guided by the space we work with, we hope to use its peculiarities to inspire us and allow us to find new audience-performer relationships.
Technology in the theatre is becoming much more widely adopted as the tools become more accessible and easy to use. We believe it is important to find ways of integrating technology into performance without losing the essential live and interactive nature of theatre. We also hope to use the advantages of new technology to make theatre more accessible to new audiences, and to share the tools we develop with other emerging artists to expand on these new possibilities.
The Beautiful Ones
The show was inspired John B. Calhoun’s rodent crowding experiments in the 60’s, and their striking similarity to modern society in a densely packed global city like Hong Kong. In order to approach this topic in a more nuanced way, we looked to mythology, and particularly Ovid’s Metamorphoses to expand on the themes and similarities that emerged.
“By giving life to the inanimate and rendering the divine human, Ovid makes mythology the everyday, flesh-and-blood world of his reader. [...] Ovid's version of mythology intimates that the past was not larger than life: it was like the present.” - Solodow, The World of Ovid's Metamorphoses
The polyphonic singing we’ve created for the performance uses traditional Georgian harmonic structures and melodies, whose origins date from around the same time as Ovid. The rhythms come directly from Ovid’s text, following the length of the syllables of his dactylic hexameter. We have used an academic reconstruction of the original Latin pronunciation instead of following the more familiar Italian church pronunciation. We hope that this can help to bring something unfamiliar but authentic to the audience.
Apart from text taken from Calhoun and other academics concerned with his research, we have also used original and translated versions of Ovid, as well as translated versions of Euripides and Hesiod. We should also acknowledge the influence of Samuel Beckett - particularly Quad; his piece for four players, lights and percussion, which has no spoken text, and whose only instructions describe a repetitive sequence in which the performers walk between the corners of a square.
This performance is a synthesis of many different eclectic elements, in terms of both source and structure. We hope that by pushing ourselves to go beyond familiar territory, we can start to discover and expand on new forms and approaches for contemporary theatre in Hong Kong.
Last but not least, we would like to especially thank our creative team for all their hard work, and our friends and audiences for their support. Please carry on supporting the development of Hong Kong “small” theatre. - Ivor and Michelle