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Stage of Youth

This is a story about two sisters from the “post-80s” generation who fell in love with the declining art of Cantonese Opera and decided to make it their lifelong career.

Elder sister, Tsui Sin-yuen, currently 29 years old, came across some Cantonese Opera cassette tapes at home by chance when she was 7 or 8 and took a liking to the art instantly after listening to them. Seeing that she enjoyed the vocal craft, her mother took her to see shows at the theatre. At the time, she was not drawn to the beautiful fa dan (female lead), but rather, the dashing and handsome man mou sang (principal male). Her father, a Chinese medicine practitioner, once learned Cantonese Opera, and asked his teacher to give her lessons in singing and martial arts at home upon discovering his daughter’s interest. She has become inseparable from the art ever since.

26-year-old Tsui Sin-yan, the younger of the two, is an introverted and shy girl. She began learning Cantonese Opera at the age of 10 when she saw her sister taking lessons, and loves it even more than her elder sibling.

About six months into their training, the sisters had their first opportunity to take to the stage in 1999, when the 14-year-old and 11- year-old performed opera excerpts together. After that, their father arranged for them to study under different teachers and troupes. Sin-yuen decided to pursue a career in Cantonese Opera after graduating from Form Five, and although Sin-yan did quite well at school, she followed in her sister’s footsteps and chose to drop out after finishing Form Three as she was too fond of the craft.

Seeing his daughters’ passion for Cantonese Opera, their father decided to offer a helping hand by turning a large part of his clinic into a rehearsal room. He even formed a troupe so that they could have the opportunity to perform. They played secondary characters at first and officially took up leading roles in 2005, with the elder sister becoming a man mou sang and the younger a fa dan. Going by the stage names of “Yu Dong Sing” and “Yu Ling Lung” respectively, the duo have been working together ever since.

This pair of sisters from the “post-80s” generation has chosen Cantonese Opera, an art form regarded as being old-fashioned, as a lifelong career – how do they measure their gains and losses? Practice is a gruelling process which results in chronic conditions over the years, while the income from making a living as a Cantonese Opera actor is barely enough for subsistence. However, such losses are offset by the applause from the audience after every performance – happiness which no amount of money can ever buy.

Hong Kong Stories - Dream Chasers

  • Video
  • English
  • Lifestyle
  • On-going
This season of Hong Kong Stories is about youngsters from the “post-80s” generation, in particular, those under 30, and their entrepreneurial dreams.

The age of 18 is when the public examinations take place. It is also the dividing line between adolescence and adulthood.

Despite the fact that we understand “learning is more important than scoring”, many Hong Kong parents dream of their children excelling in academia. However, the time for them to truly shine is after they leave school. It is not until they write this new chapter of their lives through exploration and diligence that they understand hard work is a requirement for success.

On the other hand, many secondary school graduates applying for various tertiary institutions may still not fully understand their own selves. Some ultimately muster up the courage to start their own businesses, and whether they succeed or not, the process enables them to accumulate life experience and embark on a journey of soul searching.

Pursuing one’s dreams whilst still young might be impractical, but being adolescents, they can still afford to lose.
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