Newsletter May 2017


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YOUR CALENDAR

 

Dates for your Diary!

 

 

The Play’s the Thing

The next ESU/Fringe Play-Reading will be held on Monday, 15 May. Time: 7.15-9.30pm at “Colette’s”, 2/F, The HK Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, HK. The play to read will be “Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang.

 

 

 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR OUR ENGLISH-IN-ACTION PROGRAMME

Volunteers are still needed urgently for our “English-in-Action” Programme. YES! You will surely want to improve your Putonghua (your Cantonese is already very good), but you may feel that you would also like to brush up your English. In this programme, small groups of three or four participants meet with ESU volunteers for four one-hour sessions at venues to be agreed between the volunteer leader and you, or at coffee shops. These sessions provide opportunities for practicing conversational English in a relaxed atmosphere with one of our volunteers.

A group is now meeting on Wednesdays, 7-8pm in Kowloon Tong.

Please contact Venni if you believe that you can help as discussion leader in future groups.

(Fee for ESU Members: HK$350 for four one-hour sessions.

An additional HK$150 for non-members as registration fee for this programme for one year.)

 

 

INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SPEAKING COMPETITION

 

A new British General Election will be held in June 2017 and much of the British media expects the Conservative Party to win with a very sizeable majority. Perhaps of more immediate interest to Hong Kong are the experiences of two Public Speaking candidates in London. Ms. Jane Easton (the Director-General of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth) wrote in an introduction to the Competition for newcomers: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the English-Speaking Union's International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) in 2017. Now the largest public speaking competition in the world, the IPSC involves 40,000 students in over 50 countries. Not only does the Competition provide students with an opportunity to develop the vital skills that will enable them to speak with confidence in public, but through the International Final in London, students from around the world have the opportunity to meet, engage with and form friendships and understanding that will last a lifetime.”

 

 

READING PROGRAMME ACCEPTED BY “SCOLAR”

 

It is gratifying to report that the ESU has been asked by the Government (SCOLAR) to submit an "English in Action" programme for secondary and primary schools in the 2017/18 and 2018/2019 school years. The programme will be offered to both primary and secondary school students. In Primary schools, the ESU team will focus on the age group, 6 to 9 years and will suggest that, with close home-school cooperation, progress can be made in improving children’s reading literacy in English. At the secondary level, the programme will focus on the three compulsory strands, Interpersonal, Knowledge and Experience, and students will be helped to master Listening, Speaking and Writing skills in, for example, “Learning English through Drama”.


ENGLISH-IN-ACTION PROGRAMME

If you would like to brush up your English, this is a very good way to do it. Four participants meet with an ESU volunteer for four one-hour sessions at a venue to be agreed between the volunteer leader and you, or at a suitable coffee shop, away from the barriers. The charge is: ESU Members: HK$350 for four one-hour sessions.

An additional HK$150 for non-members as registration fee for this programme will be payable for one year.  We are in need of a discussion leader for Tuesdays, 7-8pm.  Please contact Venni at esuhk@netvigator.com if you are able to help.


MEET AT THE ESU

Mr Adam Forrester, Lecturer at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will speak from 6.45pm-8pm on the topic, “Creating an Educational Video in 8 Steps.” Members are cordially invited to attend and arm themselves with questions about this fascinating topic.

Venue: Unit 707, AXA Centre, 151 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.

Ms. Caithin Feenstra will be the speaker on Monday, 8 June. Her topic will be announced.


THE PLAY'S THE THING

The Play this time:

“Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang

 

Yellow Face is David Henry Hwang's self-mocking drama about his reaction to the casting of Caucasian actor Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian character in the Cameron Mackintosh–produced West End musical Miss Saigon. As the play begins, Hwang draws from his own public experience as an advocate for Asian American artists, recounting his frustrating role as a leading voice against the initially controversial Broadway staging of the musical. Functioning as a kind of autobiographical and meta-theatrical satire on the Asian American experience, Yellow Face reworks the events into a farcical comedy.

 

Hwang places an ironically distanced version of himself in the play as a narrator figure. Highly critical of the casting choice, this figure, dubbed DHH, decides to write a play about mistaken racial identities called Face Value, just as David Henry Hwang decided to do in real life. In this new play, the lead character, an Asian American activist, is supposed to infiltrate a production wearing white-face, only to reveal later that he is Asian. But, much to DHH's horror, in his zeal to avoid stereotypical assumptions of "Asian" physical features he accidentally casts a Caucasian actor, Marcus Dahlman, in the role of the activist. Face Value is the play that Hwang wrote in real life in response to Miss Saigon, although that play starred the Chinese American actor B. D. Wong for its brief New York run. When Hwang realises belatedly that Marcus really is white, he invents a story that Marcus has Siberian Jewish ancestry. Meanwhile, Hwang's father, HYH, is caught in a political contribution scandal, and the two of them are forced to examine their relationship and shared heritage.

Come an enjoy the play as a reading. All welcome. There is no need to read if you don't wish to. If you prefer, you are welcome just to listen. However, all who wish to read will have the opportunity to do so.

 

Facilitators: Mike Ingham and Julian Quail.


  ESU Speech festival teacher training 2016  Supporting Organisation: Aston Education   This programme is designed to help English teachers at either primary or secondary levels to prepare students for the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival, 2016. The English-Speaking Union’s experienced trainers/educators will be able to offer advice to teachers on diction, expression, interpretation and performance, as well as on techniques for developing students’ appreciation and awareness of rhetorical features of the relevant texts. Participants will be given a chance to share their own experiences.     Venue for all Sessions: Aston Education, 5/F Office Plus @ Wanchai, 303 Hennessy Road, Wanchai (opposite CC Wu Building, by courtesy of the Institute). Dates: (saturdays) 8, 22, 29 October 2017 (10am to 1pm)

 

ESU Speech festival teacher training 2016

 Supporting Organisation: Aston Education

 

This programme is designed to help English teachers at either primary or secondary levels to prepare students for the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival, 2016. The English-Speaking Union’s experienced trainers/educators will be able to offer advice to teachers on diction, expression, interpretation and performance, as well as on techniques for developing students’ appreciation and awareness of rhetorical features of the relevant texts. Participants will be given a chance to share their own experiences.

 

 

Venue for all Sessions: Aston Education, 5/F Office Plus @ Wanchai, 303 Hennessy Road, Wanchai (opposite CC Wu Building, by courtesy of the Institute).

Dates: (saturdays) 8, 22, 29 October 2017 (10am to 1pm)

 

All the World’s a Stage

“Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang

 

Yellow Face is David Henry Hwang's self-mocking drama about his reaction to the casting of Caucasian actor Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian character in the Cameron Mackintosh–produced West End musical Miss Saigon. As the play begins, Hwang draws from his own public experience as an advocate for Asian American artists, recounting his frustrating role as a leading voice against the initially controversial Broadway staging of the musical. Functioning as a kind of autobiographical and meta-theatrical satire on the Asian American experience, Yellow Face reworks the events into a farcical comedy.

 

Hwang places an ironically distanced version of himself in the play as a narrator figure. Highly critical of the casting choice, this figure, dubbed DHH, decides to write a play about mistaken racial identities called Face Value, just as David Henry Hwang decided to do in real life. In this new play, the lead character, an Asian American activist, is supposed to infiltrate a production wearing white-face, only to reveal later that he is Asian. But, much to DHH's horror, in his zeal to avoid stereotypical assumptions of "Asian" physical features he accidentally casts a Caucasian actor, Marcus Dahlman, in the role of the activist. Face Value is the play that Hwang wrote in real life in response to Miss Saigon, although that play starred the Chinese American actor B. D. Wong for its brief New York run. When Hwang realises belatedly that Marcus really is white, he invents a story that Marcus has Siberian Jewish ancestry. Meanwhile, Hwang's father, HYH, is caught in a political contribution scandal, and the two of them are forced to examine their relationship and shared heritage.

 

With this neat twist of the Caucasian actor passing himself off as Asian, Hwang is able to examine the hall of mirrors surrounding race and ethnicity in contemporary society, demonstrating not only how Marcus ironically profits from his newfound status as a potentially "oppressed" man of colour, but also how that "oppression" has less to do with one's actual ethnic background than with how one attempts to perform one's identity in a world fond of neat classifications. Guardian newspaper critic Michael Billington writes: "Hwang uses the satirical format to ask what it means to be classified by ethnicity, and also to invoke the xenophobic persecution of Chinese-Americans in the late 1990s. Behind the laughter, this is a probingly political play that tests the validity of Hwang's optimistic assertion that 'it doesn't matter what someone looks like on the outside'. It's a peach of a play, using theatre as a metaphor for life and exploring the implications of being racially hyphenated." In the context of the crude national and cultural chauvinism, the subtle or less subtle xenophobia and the shallow political posturing that we observe wherever we look in today's 'post-truth', 'alternative facts' world, Hwang's biting play is arguably even more topical now than it was when it first appeared in 2009.

 

Come and enjoy the play as a reading. All welcome. There is no need to read if you don't wish to. If you prefer, you are welcome just to listen. However, all who wish to read will have the opportunity to do so.

 

Facilitators: Mike Ingham and Julian Quail.