Shakespeare in the Port suspended, indefinitely


After a two-year stint the homegrown, non-profit festival, Shakespeare in the Port, has been put on hold indefinitely. A raft of local talent blossomed on Cyberport’s grand outdoor stage and in contemporary reworks of the Bard’s timeless tales of love, betrayal and contempt. Alongside tailormade plays, the festival brought creative workshops and activities to ignite our love of the playwright and his works. The news of the festival’s suspension comes as a blow to Hong Kong’s affordable arts scene. We catch up with festival organiser, Meaghan McGurgan, to find out where it all went wrong… 

What caused you to suspend Shakespeare in the Port? 
It was very hard for me to suspend the festival as it took four years to get off the ground. Although Shakespeare in the Port was a success financially, it was very stressful to run. To keep the festival going and to retain the quality of the work we were doing I need help. I’m suspending the festival until I can find a creative team to work with on a long-term basis. 
What was the biggest success of the festival?
[It was] definitely getting kids to see live Shakespeare and enjoying it. Over two years we had 3,000 children see theatre for free and I loved getting to do that. We achieved our goal of accessible, affordable theatre, broke even financially and paid all our staff members something for their time. I’m very proud of the successful model I built. Grassroots theatre has a place in Hong Kong. 
Could Shakespeare in the Port continue on an ad hoc basis?
Perhaps after a few months and some restructuring, we'll find a way to reboot the festival, make ourselves bigger, better and run more sufficiently. 
What do you think is the essence of the festival – was that compromised at all?
The essence of Shakespeare in the Port is that relaxing feeling you get sitting on a sunny day with a breeze on your face with a sense of community love. We never lost that and I'm very proud that we had an immense amount of support from Hong Kongers during our run. In fact, I think our shows this year were even better than the first year. We had more diverse content and renditions of bilingual Shakespeare. 
We were the first crowd funded theatre festival in Hong Kong and I hope many others will follow behind us. Hong Kong artists are very talented and deserve recognition (and pay) for their talent. 
Will you be working on other projects?
Always. Right now I'm focusing on a couple of projects with young performers helping to promote local art in the community. Hong Kong is not a cultural desert. I encourage everyone to go out and see what it has to offer. We are more than Cantonese Opera – we are a diverse melting pot of artists that are begging for you to notice us.


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