Friday, 17 February 2012

新光戲院 Goodbye Sunbeam

The curtains are closing for the Sunbeam Theatre (新光戲院) in North Point on Sunday.

The iconic Chinese opera venue has been in operation for 40 years and is unique in Hong Kong. It had fantastic atmosphere, with its loyal, ageing clientele wandering in and out at random times during the show, standing up and clapping spontaneously at a particularly well-executed snippet, and generally gossiping and making a noise throughout. 

The great thing about it for me was that you could go in with a camera and snap away without disturbing anyone or getting told off, which is not the case in the more sanitised government venues which will accommodate touring and local opera troupes from now on.

I tried to get tickets for a show with this weekend, but unsurprisingly...

The reason for the closure? Soaring rent prices. The future of the venue? I don't even want to say it. The answer's here. 

The SCMP did report today that there is hope that the theatre might be rescued with the help a donation from an arts benefactor. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping with all my heart, but I was more optimistic about culture in Hong Kong last week.

Read about the closure in detail in Time Out HK.

UPDATE 19/2 : A last-minute tenancy agreement yesterday with a theatre troupe will keep the theatre open for another four years; that is, until 2016, when a new Chinese arts venue is due to open in West Kowloon... coincidence? In any case, happy news for now!

All content © Emilie Pavey


  1. Indeed! Great news, I found out earlier today, and was just about to update the above post, but you pipped me to it!