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CREATING ACROSS CULTURES

more than fifteen people sharing the apartment, and it was so noisy with all the kids fighting and playing,” she remembers. They “worked like donkeys” to survive, taking jobs in factories, learning the local dialect of Cantonese, pouring their resources into their children’s education and sending funds to relatives back home on the mainland. By the age of 12, Chong was accepted into Saint Paul’s Co-educational College, one of the top AngloChinese schools in Hong Kong, where education is free and based on merit. Every summer and Lunar New Year, she and her family would head back to Fujian carrying bags of gifts for the family. “My earliest memory was that I didn’t belong to Hong Kong,” muses Chong. “Fujian was my hometown, the place where people who loved me lived. It was so spacious; in Hong Kong we lived in such a small room and people didn’t seem very friendly to us.” This sense of otherness shadowed Chong during her psychology studies at the Chinese University of The Chong family on a Hong Kong street, circa 1979. Hong Kong. “I knew I was a Hong Kong citizen, but I felt like I was very different from my classmates. I felt like I was more traditional. I grew up listening to my father’s stories about mainland China’s political situation and his life in education camps.” While she was at Chinese University, Chong watched a play from Beijing about Ruan Lingyu—a famous silent film actress who had committed suicide at the age of 24. By the final scene of that play, something connected deeply with Chong’s heart. “The stage was set with an enormous sheet of flowing silk,” she remembers. “The actress playing Ruan Lingyu delivered a monologue and walked around the silk as though she was floating in the clouds. It was such a beautiful and profound depiction of death. I wanted to create something like that too.” When Chong arrived at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) to study for a two-year diploma in playwriting, she fell under the spell of her professor, Lee Ming-sum. Lee was a Beijinger who had graduated from the Central Academy of Drama. His northern accent distinctly reminded her of her father. Chong remembers the time he decided that he would direct one of the students’ plays as an APA production—a previously unheard-of

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Creating Across Cultures - Candace Chong  

These articles first appeared in the 2017 publication "Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan",...

Creating Across Cultures - Candace Chong  

These articles first appeared in the 2017 publication "Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan",...

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