Ivor Gurney in Hong Kong
Lest We Forget
Producing a play is a new venture for me and perhaps I would not have gone into it had I not wanted to make a small contribution to the ongoing commemorations for World War I, or The Great War, as it was also known.
This intensely moving drama about the poet and WWI soldier, Ivor Gurney, first performed in the early 90s, left a lasting impression on me when I first saw it and I wanted the chance for a new audience to see it.
From a design point of view, I have loved researching and recreating the inside of a mental asylum as it might have been in the early 1930s – finding an original WWI gas mask, making an authentic looking nurse’s uniform, finding just the right kind of bed for Ivor – it has been a fascinating and rewarding journey.
And very importantly, I wanted to give something back to all the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight. All proceeds from our production will go to the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemens’ Association – a very worthy cause.
Scroll down to meet the cast and crew and also visit our website for more information. Hope to see you at the Fringe for the performances! May 21st-23rd, 2015
Ivor Gurney – A Voice Apart
About The Play
‘A creative spirit touched by genius’
Jonathan Douglas is Ivor Gurney, the prolific poet and composer — by the time Gurney died, he left approximately two hundred songs, chamber and instrumental pieces and over three hundred poems and verse-pieces — a troubled soul in his personal life and a WWI private who survived the trenches and, until recently, a much overlooked creative genius.
Ivor Gurney died of tuberculosis on Boxing Day, 1937. He was 47 years old.
Interestingly, Ivor Gurney, A Voice Apart, was written by another creative genius, Piers Gray, who lived and worked in Hong Kong until his untimely death in 1996.
For Jonathan Douglas, this will be the second time performing Ivor Gurney at The Fringe. The play has also been presented at the Edinburgh Festival.
The play is set in the mental asylum where Ivor spent the final years of his life. Ivor is trapped, not only physically but also spiritually — reliving the horrific gas attacks he suffered at The Front, yet also his tender memories of Marion Scott, a woman who was to become the most influential figure in Gurney’s life. Throughout the performance, we also hear Ivor’s own haunting compositions and poems.
In conjunction with the production, and, in commemoration of the Great War, there will also be film footage, a photographic exhibition, Ivor Gurneys poems and music and after-show discussions. A talk about Ivor Gurney will also take place during the month of May.
Underground at the Fringe, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong
Cast & Crew
Jonathan Douglas is a broadcaster, actor and musician. He is known to Hong Kong radio listeners as the presenter of arts and music programmes and regularly MCs arts and cultural events in HK. His book, Noteworthy, is based on interviews with world renouned arts personalities. His acting credits in Hong Kong include Hamlet and Richard 2nd in Shakespeare, and leading roles in 20th century classics by Pinter, Eliot, Beckett and Chekhov. At the 2009 Hong Kong Arts Festival he was guest actor in Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree. Jonathan created the role of Ivor Gurney in 1994 in a Hong Kong production directed by the author, Piers Gray. This same production had a two week run in Edinburgh the following year. He is delighted to be re-visiting the piece as the world remembers WW1 a century ago. As a musician Jonathan performs his own original piano music and songs, appearing with his sons Cameron and Jamie at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe. In 2009 Jonathan was awarded the MBE for his services to British Arts in Hong Kong.
Currently pianist of the renowned Hong Kong fusion band SIU2, Peter was also the Keyboard Principal of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and has performed extensively both locally and internationally. One recent highlight was a performance to over 30,000 people at London’s Trafalgar Square and he was also one of the featured artists of “Exxon Mobil Vision—Sheng It Up” of the 2008 Hong Kong Arts Festival.
On top of his performing career, Peter has also been a radio programme host for the classical music radio channel RTHK 4.
He is much sought after as an accompanist, chamber musician, and orchestral pianist, collaborating with both local and international artists and groups such as Lung Heung-wing, Yuri Bashmet, José Carreras of “The Three Tenors”, David Glass Ensemble, and Korean dance master Sin-cha Hong, to name a few. He has also worked as musical director for theatre productions, been involved in film music production, and has taught at the Music School of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
In July 2010, he performed at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts’ 25th Anniversary Fund-raising concerts—“The Academy’s Best Pianists Concerts”.
Peter is also a healing practitioner and an internet radio programme host. He also holds a degree in Law.
Born in Penang, David Quah obtained an Advanced Diploma in vocal performance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, a Bachelor of Music degree at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Australia and completed the Postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. While in Queensland he won the coveted Marianne Mathy Australian Singing Competition and made his professional debut singing Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Opera Queensland.
David has premiered in many roles in both local and overseas opera productions. On the concert stage, David made his debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra singing in two Christmas concerts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. He has also appeared in concerts in various countries, from Australia to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Great Britain and the USA. He has given many recitals with repertoire ranging from Baroque music to contemporary works, from Chinese folk songs to Broadway musical numbers, and even a little bit of jazz. He is the Artistic Director of Bel Canto Singers Foundation.
David Booth has been involved in theatres, design, production and performance for over 50 years, and has worked with Jonathan Douglas and Mike Ingham on a number of theatre projects during this time: in Hong Kong these have included several ‘Hamlets’ in the 80’s and 90’s, and Chekov in the 90’s, which including a ‘Vanya’ in the old Fringe Club auditorium, when the Theatre had a ceramic tiled floor and slowly-turning ceiling fans; this has been followed by Beckett and more recently Eliot’s ‘Quartets’. His production of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, with Karina Zabihi as Titania/Hippolyta, travelled, from the Ballroom of Hong Kong Government House to the National Youth Theatre of Vietnam in Hanoi in ’93. – His great Uncle, George Shore, fought in the Battle of the Somme, in 1916.
Director of interior architecture firm kzdesigns since 1997 and more recently Karo Lifestyle, Karina has worked on design projects in the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. Among her first roles on stage was Regan in King Lear. She has played the dual roles of Titania and Hippolyta in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, directed by David Booth in Hong Kong. The play subsequently transferred to Hanoin in 1993. Her final stage performance was as Ruth Carson in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Night and Day’. She has also written and directed a number of award-winning short films and was cameraman on the film version of ‘The Ivor Gurney Show’, directed by John Hunt. In addition to interior architecture, Karina has also designed a number of international music events.
Mike Ingham is a Professor in the Dept. of English Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Film and theatre studies, adaptation studies and documentary film studies are Mike’s areas of professional and research expertise. He is also a founder member of Theatre Action, a drama group specializing in action research on literary drama texts and intercultural adaptations and has directed, produced, or acted in many previous productions in the UK and Hong Kong. These include productions of plays by Shakespeare, Pinter, Molière, Brecht, Beckett, Genet, Mike Leigh and David Mamet; he worked on the T.S. Eliot ‘Four Quartets’ stage adaptation with David Booth and Jonathan Douglas which was presented at the Fringe Club in late 2009. As well as teaching literature and language arts Mike writes on adaptation in and across various arts media and is currently working on a study of the interface between theatre and film. His favourite acting roles were as Davies in Pinter’s ‘The Caretaker’ and Flute in the ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ production that played at Government House in 1992 and toured to Hanoi in 1993, both directed by David Booth, a longtime friend and collaborator.
A background in finance and economic development has not stopped Robert from participating in theatrical performances. As a schoolboy music scholar and very hammy actor, his favourite role was playing Colonel Pickering in Pygmalion. He has also taken on the persona of Dame Edna Everage on occasion! Sadly, Robert’s role in Gurney is restricted to the book-keeper which, while it might frustrate his thespian aspirations, is probably in the best interests of the viewing public and the profitability of the production!
More accustomed to being on stage than behind stage, but delighted to be involved in a project that brings together (once more) theatre, history and Hong Kong in a poignant and wonderfully moving way. I am indebted to Karina who has been a terrific mentor, and font of pragmatism and creativity, as well as David and Mike, in developing the stage experience for “Ivor Gurney”; and for Jonathan for bringing it all to life.