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Danny Yung's "Flee by Night" explores relationship between art and politics for Shanghai Expo (with photos)

Theatre pioneer Danny Yung presented his latest experimental piece "Flee by Night" for Expo 2010 Shanghai China (Shanghai Expo) this evening (October 16), exploring the relationship between art and politics.

The production, staged in Putonghua with Chinese and English text, attracted an attendance rate of 96% at the Duanjun Theatre of the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Two more performances will be staged at the same venue over the next two days.

"Flee by Night" is also a highlight of the HKSAR cultural programme for Shanghai Expo and a programme of Hong Kong Cultural Week for the 12th China Shanghai International Arts Festival.

The original version of "Flee by Night" is one of the two surviving acts from "The Legend of the Precious Sword" written by playwright Li Kaixian during the mid-Ming dynasty. It was inspired by one of the four great literary classics, "Water Margin" by Shi Naian in the Yuan dynasty.

"Flee by Night" tells the story of legendary figure Lin Chong. Lin was the chief instructor of the 800,000 imperial guards in the Song dynasty until he was framed and persecuted by malicious court officials. He then fled to join a group of outlaws and eventually became one of the "108 Liangshan heroes".

The original play, scripted as the author's rebuttal to the political situation of that era, implies much of his own anger and grievances.

"Flee by Night" director and co-artistic director of Zuni Icosahedron, Mr Danny Yung, said: "The original work is filled with suppressed fury towards the establishment and would have been rather irritating to those in power at that time."

According to Mr Yung, the popularity of the piece hasn't lessened over time, proving that the power of art exceeds the power of politics.

"With a changing political landscape, politicians all come and go. But artists are immortal through their works," Mr Yung said.

Famed for works which demand critical self-reflection, Mr Yung seeks to relate Lin Chong's transgression to the present day.

"The positions of artists and literati are ever changing and there is a Lin Chong in every era," Mr Yung said.

"Can our society's 'dissidents' create or live in an alternative establishment? I also try to explore if there is room for human rights, structural reforms, people development and a civic society."

"Flee by Night" features Ke Jun, the National Class One actor and President of the Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Kun Opera Theatre, and his 25-year-old prot赌g赌, Yang Yang. They portray the middle-aged and teenaged Lin Chong respectively.

Other cast members include Li Lite on percussion, and Zuni member Pun Tak-shu, who is also responsible for music and video design.

Couture designer Barney Cheng, whose works have graced red carpets around the world, designed the costumes.

During Hong Kong Week for Shanghai Expo from October 18 to 22, there will be a kaleidoscope of performances including "Spectacular for Expo" by the Hong Kong Police Band; a repertoire of mixed works by the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra; "Cantonese Opera Performances" by the Hong Kong Children and Juvenile Chinese Opera Troupe; "Swing for All" and "Contemporary Jazz featuring Ted Lo and Eugene Pao" by the Hong Kong Fringe Club; "My China Heart" by Opera Hong Kong; "Generation Singer-Songwriters Concert" by Hong Kong singer-songwriters and "A Soldier's Story" by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

For full details and ticketing information, please visit the Event Calendar section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk.