“Adaptations, Theatre and Culture”
Course outline for 2009 Spring Semester
Lecturer: Ho Ying Fung Class Period: Every Saturday (2:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.)
Number of Period: 14
All classes would be composed of lecture (50%) and exploration workshop (50%).
Students are expected to be active learners and participate both in lectures and class
works. A series of theatre workshop based on related topics would be held to help
students re-examine the role of culture and adaptations involved in the creative
process of theatre making. Integrating/conflicting viewpoints among artists, spectators,
scholars, culture critics and philosophers would be examined. Selected studies from
writers/poets, directors, actors, designers (set, lighting, costume, masks, props, and
sound) and composers would be re-evaluated to get a closer look into the potentially
diversified interpretations of text, images and artists‟ paradox in creating specific
theatrical languages. Students would be expected to participate in all class exercises
involved and reflect from the findings and experiences unfolded. Developing critical
strategies through analytical observations would be stressed in understanding the
unusual fabrics entangled among adaptations, theatre and culture.
Class participation* 20%
Work presentations (including reflection blog, class work, etc.) 30%
4 Critical Essays/ or relevant creative projects*
(based on selected topics or performance reviews) 50%
*Punctuality is essential!
Note: All students are expected to to read the related materials as listed before coming to class.) (
1. My Story: “On and Off Stage!”
a. Examine the heart of story telling;
b. Explore the „magic‟, „jargons‟ and „viewpoints‟ displayed in the course
of one‟s own story telling;
c. Examine how the cultural influence of „Self‟ corresponds to „theatrical
images‟ adopted by artists and interpretations made by spectators
Focus papers: “Erving Goffman: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”
by Adam Barnhart” and “Notes on The Gaze” by Daniel Chandler
2. “What do I want to see?” Vs “What do I really see?”
a. How to critically identify the integration of text and images in story
telling and examine their effects on spectators?
b. How do morality play tricks on viewpoints?
c. Why do we tell (or listen to) stories?
Focus works: Samuel Beckett’s “A Piece of Monologue”, Arthur Miller’s
“Death of a Salesman” and Ben Orki’s “On Story Telling”
3. Examining the differences between role-plays in everyday life and those
depicted in theatre.
A surgical look into Henri Lefebvre‟s Everyday life in the Modern World and
Luigi Pirandello‟s existential examination on role-plays in “Six Characters in
Search of an Author”
4. Compare the „life‟ portrayed in Raymond To‟s “I have a Date with Spring”
and one of Poon Wai Sum‟s latest work, “The Massage King”
- Re-examining the cultural differences between the 1980‟s and the beginning
of the new millennium from two plays written by these two renowned local
- The making of Stereotypical characters vs. Marginalized characters.
Focus works: Two plays as mentioned above
5. Breaking up the secret of „TECHNIQUES‟ evolved in theatre creativity
a. The myth behind techniques (including acting, directing, playwriting,
b. How do „Learnt Techniques‟ come by in the eye of the public?
c. Locate the essence of technique building and its „necessity‟ in story
Focus paper: Susan Perlstein’s “We Are All Connected: Elders Share the
6. In Search of theatre spectacle: For consumption or for art? - Scanning through Guy Debord‟s “The Society of the Spectacle” and examine the social phenomena behind contemporary Hong Kong theatre.
7. An in-depth look into Robert Wilson‟s “Einstein on the Beach” - An examination of post-modernist theatre vs. traditional form of story telling
- Looking into the „missing‟ heart of experimental theatre in Hong Kong. - A brief investigation on “Meyerhold’s Biomechanical System”
8. Total theatre: Is it an ancient idea or a modern one?
- In search of the aesthetics behind Noh, Balinese Dance and Chinese Opera.
- How „modern‟ concept and theories devised from these ancient theatres? Focus books: Bertolt Brecht‟s The Messingkauf Dialogues and Tadashi Suzuki‟s The Way of Acting.
9. The landscape of a performer‟s body: the cultural sign beyond gesture and
- Comparing the Western and Eastern perception of body form;
- “No acting, please!” What does it really mean?
- From F.M. Alexander to Tai Chi…
- Examine theatre beyond texts.
Focus Work: Dance Theatre of DV8
10. Re-examine how culture influences the process of theatre adaptations.
a. How does culture affect our sense of value building? How does the mass
media shape our opinion?
b. How does adaptation work from existing texts? Is interpretation
c. How does historicity work on the state of being (be you the creator or the
Focus work: Hong Kong Repertory Theatre’s adaptation of Alan
Ayckbourn’s “Family Circle”
（家庭作孽／translated and adapted by
11. From Text to Images VS. From Images to Text - A creative exercise on playing with images; 椅子三十二面體 by Hoyingfung; - Wordplay vs. Invasion of Signs (be they „Audio,‟ „Visual,‟ „Virtual‟ or Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” „Hyperreal‟). Focus paper: 12. Re-examine the roles and values of the creative mind evolved on part of the
- A cultural analogy of hyperreality existed in our culture;
- The war (or a WAR never taken place) on consumerism;
- What is an ACTIVE mind?
- The cultural phenomena behind the NUMBER game: full house vs.
13. Community theatre: A missing piece in Hong Kong culture
- The role of the Government played in local theatre development;
- Why has the City culturally paid so little attention on community building?
- Is it due to the lack of community commitment among theatre artists?
Focus papers: “Of the People, By the People and For the People: The Field of
Community Performance” and “Dancing From the Heart: Urban-based Community Arts” by Richard Owen Geer
14. Adaptations, Theatre & Culture
- A retrospective on local theatre before and after 1997
- Where would we be heading?
Focus paper: Hoyingfung’s “誰能看清楚／誰不想看清楚”
Papers and Books as listed above. All materials would be made available through the
office either in the form of e-books, e-papers or copies of hardcover papers.
Brecht, Bertolt. (1965) The Messingdauf Dialogues. London: Eyre Methuen.
Lefebvre, Henri. 1984. Everyday life in the Modern World. . Tr. Sacha
Rabinovitch. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
Pirandello, Luigi. 1998. Six Characters in Search of an Author. Tr. Eric Bentley.
Stanislavski, Constantin. 1936. An Actor Prepares. London: Methuen, 1988
Suzuki, Tadashi. 1986. The Way of Acting: The Theatre Writings of Tadashi
Suzuki. New York: Theatre Communications Group, Inc.
Suggested Reference Readings:
Adorno, Theodor. (1991) The Culture Industry. London and New York: Routledge.
Ball, Philip (2004) Critical Mass: How one thing leads to another. Arrow Books.
Barthes, Roland. (1977) Image-Music-Text. New York: Hill and Wang.
Barthes, Roland (1987) Criticism and Truth. Continuum.
Barthes, Roland. (1975). The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill and Wang.
Baudrillard, Jean. (2001) Fragments. Routledge.
Berger, John (1972) Ways of Seeing. Vintage.
Berger, John (1980) About Looking. Vintage International.
Berger, John (1985) The Sense of Sight. Vintage International.
Bernstein, David W. and Hatch, Christopher (ed.). (2001) Writings through John
Cage’s Music, Poetry, and Art. The University of Chicago Press.
Blackburn, Simon. (2005) Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed. Penguin Books.
Boal, Augusto (1985) Theatre of the Oppressed. TCG
Boden, Margaret A. (1990) The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms. London and
New York: Routledge.
Bohm, David. (1996) On Creativity. London and New York: Routledge.
Bohm, David. (1996) On Dialogue. London and New York: Routledge.
Bottom, Alain de. 2005 . Status Anxiety. Penguin.
Brook, Peter. 1968. The Empty Space. Atheneum.
Brook, Peter. (1988) The Shifting Point: Forty Years of Theatrical Exploration
Burkman, K. H. (Ed.) 1987. Myth and Ritual in the Plays of Samuel Beckett.
London and Toronto: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
Burkitt, Ian. 1999. Bodies of Thought: Embodiment, Identity and Modernity.
London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Chandler, Daniel. (2002) Semiotics: The Basics. Routledge.
Chatman, Seymour. 1978. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and
Film. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP.
Chekhov, Anton. (1975) *The Sea Gull. Avon
Clifford, James. 1988. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century
Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Cole, Susan Leizler. (1992) Directors in Rehearsal: A Hidden World. London:
De Certeau, Michel (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California
Denzin, Norman K. 1991. Images of Postmodern Society. London: Sage.
Dewey, John. (1934) Art as Experience. A Perigee Book.
Elkins, James. 1996. The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing.
New York: Simon & Schuster.
Fischer, Ernest. (1959) The Necessity of Art. Penguin Books.
Foucault, Michel. (1994) Aesthetics. Penguin Books.
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Handke, Peter (1991) The Afternoon of a Writer. Minerva.
Heidegger, Martin. (1971) Poetry, Language, Thought. Perennial Classics.
Howard, Philip K. (1994) The Death of Common Sense. New York: Warner Books.
Ibsen, Henrik. 1881. Ghosts. Tr. William Archer. The Project Gutenberg Ebook.
Jacobs, Carol and Sussman, Henry (ed.) (2003) Acts of Narrative. Stanford University
Julius, Anthony (2002) Transgressions: The Offences of Art. Thames and Hudson.
Keenan, Julian Paul. (2003) The Face in the Mirror. HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
Kelly, George. A. 1955. The psychology of Personal Constructs (vols. 1 and 2). N.Y.:
Kierkegaard, Søren. 2003/1985. Fear and Trembling: Dialectical Lyric by Johannes
de silentio. Tr. Alastair Hannay. Penguin Books.
Klein, Naomi. 2005. No Logo. [First published in 2000] Harper Perrenial.
Kundera, Milan.( 1995) Testaments Betrayed. Faber and Faber.
Laing, R.D. (1977) The Facts of Life. Penguin Group.
Lefebvre, Henri. (2000) Everyday Life in the Modern World. London and New York:
Lo, Kwai-cheung (2005) Chinese Face/Off: The Transnational Popular Culture of
Hong Kong. University of Illinois Press.
Mamet, David. 1978. Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations: Two
Plays. Grove Press.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. (1964) Sense and Non-Sense. Northwestern University
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____. 1964. The Visible and the Invisible. Northwestern University Press.
Muller, Heiner (1995) Theatremachine. London: Faber and Faber.
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