Hong Kong Performers Long for Limelight as Pandemic Drags on
“We’re all missing the stage so much,” says Irene Lo, who has multiple lead roles under her belt including Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Clara in “The Nutcracker”
Hong Kong’s performing arts community has been brutally hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has left theatres empty and stage lights cold — and there is little hope on the horizon even as entertainment venues begin to reopen.
The region has had a much better track record of keeping down infections, but the often drastic social-distancing measures used to combat the virus have kept entertainment venues shuttered.
In her cramped Hong Kong apartment that has served as a studio, stage and gym for the past six months, ballerina Irene Lo fastens her pointe shoes and effortlessly lifts one leg into a full split.
Irene Lo practicing in the living room of her Hong Kong flat
“I did zero shows so far and most of my teaching has been cancelled,” said Lo, 42, who has multiple lead roles under her belt including Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Clara in “The Nutcracker”.
She is currently missing out on the HK$20,000 ($2,500) per performance she would usually make before the virus hit, while video lessons bring in barely half of what she earned from in-person classes.
With the virus forcing theatres shuttered, Irene Lo has taken to practicing outdoors
Artists and performers now complain that the city’s government has provided little in the way of vital subsidies or support to keep their livelihoods going.
Hong Kong bills itself as one of Asia’s top arts cities, but performers say the government has provided little in the way of vital subsidies or support
“In the entertainment circle, there’s no help at all,” complained Rock Fang, a 42-year-old hip-hop dancer and teacher who says he has lost 80 percent of his income since the virus struck.
Hip-hop dancer and teacher Rock Fang says he has lost 80 percent of his income since the virus struck
Kitty Wong, 24, dreamt of the limelight after graduating from theater school in May but currently works in a liquor shop to make ends meet.
Kitty Wong, 24, dreamed of being in the limelight after graduating from theatre school in May, but must now practice from home
For now, all she can do is wait and hope audiences one day return to theaters.
“I would say maybe it’s not my time,” she says. “So I will just wait until my time comes.”
PICTURES BY ISAAC LAWRENCE/afp