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CANDACE CHONG

“You have to leave home to find your identity,” she muses. “Distance is important. I did a lot of thinking about my identity. Was I a Fujian girl, a Chinese person or a Hong Kong person? I started to think about why, when I would hang out with mainland Chinese and Taiwanese, they had very strong political points of view. They had a very strong sense of identity about themselves. But I didn’t. I was kind of embarrassed.”

Kearan Pang (playing Sammy), Alice Lau (Ling), and Tang Wai-kit (Tang) in Murder in San Jose, directed by Lee Chun-chow, at Hong Kong City Hall, 2009.

It was this evolving awareness of the differences between Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong people that formed the backbone of Murder in San Jose. The play was commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival as part of their New Works Scheme in 2009 and was conceived during Chong’s year in the United States. She completed it while studying for a master’s degree at the Royal Holloway at University College London. It has since become one of her most talked-about works. The play is a study of the overseas Chinese experience. It opens in a house in the hills of San Jose, California where a Hong Kong couple, Tang and Ling, are living a quiet life. Before the first act even begins, the audience can glimpse a body, bound and gagged below the floorboards, crying for help—setting up the mystery right from the start. The tensions of Tang and Ling’s marriage gradually spill out in a dark psychological thriller interspersed with moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. As their marriage unravels, friends and business partners from the local Chinese community pop by and—amid a clash of Cantonese and Putonghua— Chong raises the nuances, tensions and stereotypes of Greater China.

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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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