Sunbeam Theatre (新光戲院)

Sunbeam Theatre sign
Sunbean Theatre

I was typing up a little intro+prelude of the area I shot photos last week. And it turned into a documentary of the Sunbeam Theatre…The time of my visit was February 11th, 2012.

I have walked by these locations a couple times early this year. That was before I started street photography. I think there’re a lot going on along King’s Road. It’s also where the trams run through. Another street parallel to the King’s Road is the Electric Road. Then there’s the Java Road, it’s the continuation of Electric Road toward the Eastern Districts.

Blocks of old buildings

What’s in the area? Full of apartments, some are new and many are old. Then on the ground level, there’re shops and traffic. It’s busy alright, just nothing special going on especially during the weekends. Government buildings and important Corporates are not located in the area..so there’s no protest demonstration. It’s actually quite a nice straightaway road for demonstration😉

Tram Station in North Point
Tram Station in North Point

The area rarely have tourists visiting. Except some Lonely Planet guided folks who want to experience Hong Kong in a local way. I think King’s Road is pretty awesome at night when you’re on the double decker tram. Cool breeze and neon nights, what more can you ask for in Hong Kong. Alright, there’s more than that.

Entrance of the Theatre
The Entrance

In North Point, the home to the last standing Cantonese Opera Theatre – the Sunbeam Theatre. Please don’t expect it’s the Sydney Opera House..no it’s not. From the look of it, you’d think it’s a movie theatre. It’s built in the 1970s. They were really near to a shutdown earlier this year in February. I won’t blame on our government this time, as no one in Hong Kong give a crap about the Cantonese Opera. We all now look up to the young karaoke pop singers (I don’t..). I would rather question why the Cantonese Opera is becoming a soon-to-be extinct lost art.

Staff

I did spent an afternoon at Heritage Museum, Shatin. There were extensive background introduction and showcase of the Cantonese Opera. I’m not a fan of it, you could probably tell. I at least have the civic conscience to understand what it’s all about. All because of the Spring Lantern Festival I participated.

Concession Stand
Concession Stand

What I see going on now is the public (new generation), don’t know anything about the Cantonese Opera. We all think that it’s an old fashion art that it’s boring (sadly including me). Why the western opera are still successfully running? Because of A.L. Webber? No…I think it’s because there’re still audiences.  Audiences dress up tidy for the opera, I happened to attended one back in the States. Fans respect the opera. Why can’t we?

Poster inside

So who’s responsible? Everyone is.

Councilors gathering signatures
Councilors gathering signatures for their protest campaign

First, why the Cantonese Opera is still sticking to the traditional format? Can they add in new elements to the show, such as modern instruments, lightings, voices? Can they condense/shorten the show? An english version show once in a few day, maybe for the tourists?

Poster outside

Second, if our Government don’t respect our own traditional culture why are we their people? Our government is partially responsible in killing this art. They almost not help prevent the shutdown of Sunbeam Theatre…I actually wanted it to close. I want to see the repercussion they’ll suffer. Don’t call me selfish. We don’t learn until we fall.

Poster

Third, ourselves. We were all brainwashed by the new media. Karaoke singers, Hollywood movies…let’s face it. Can we spare our moments appreciating the art performed by our hardworking opera actors/actresses? Families should at least take their kids to a show at least once!!

Media were reporting at the site
Media reporting

Why was it closing anyway? Landlord kept raising the rent. The rent of the entire area had increased due to many new apartment buildings. The dynamic forces the landlord to raise it..

At that time, I thought it’d close indefinitely. Until a mystery man, accepted to pay the rent. It’s HKD $1 mil per month. That’s some money!~

It’s funny now when I review my archive photos. They don’t look like it’s come from me. I would shoot them differently now. You get my messages from the photos anyway ;P

3 thoughts on “Sunbeam Theatre (新光戲院)

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