A rice & beans theatre production

Happy Valley

When & Where May 25 - June 4, 2013, evenings 7.30pm, Sat, Sun at 3pm | Firehall Theatre, 280 East Cordova St.

Writer and Performer Derek Chan Dramaturg Heidi Taylor Sets/Props/Costume Design Megan Lane Video Designer Andie Lloyd Lighting Design Sapphire Haze

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Happy Valley closes out the 2022/23 season for the Firehall Arts Centre. It is an appropriate production to close the 40th season at the Firehall Arts Centre being an intimate one man show in an intimate theatre. Derek Chan, playwright and performer of Happy Valley has devoted his life to theatre. His art is influenced by his formative years growing up in Hong Kong during the lead up to the handover of Hong Kong by the British to the People’s Republic of China and the struggle to maintain its democratic rights in the aftermath.

As Chan states in Happy Valley he was taken at the age of three by his father to a protest at Victoria Park. He was also allowed to stay up late to watch with his father the July 1st, 1997 handover ceremony on TV. Chan’s conversations with his grandmother and his mother about life in Hong Kong before and after the handover also influenced his need to write the script for Happy Valley.

In this interdisciplinary piece that incorporates video, piano playing, singing, traditional Chinese music and Chan’s dialogue, Chan tells a story of his early years and how those years influenced his art today. His regret is palpable. In lyrics in the songs sprinkled throughout the piece Chan speaks his loss.

Lyrics from (Story of Hong Kong), “Let me/Tell you/The story of Hong Kong, Our language, our culture/Flow like water, Below the/Lion Rock/Something in the air.” “Behold, arise! May dawn bless our Hong Kong, Lovers in arms, rise up for our righteous cause: For liberty, now and evermore, Glory reigns yet o’er Hong Kong, Glory reigns yet o’er Hong Kong. Lyricsfrom This Baby Remembers, “And so Britannia came and went, Leaving behind a hangover that never ends, Gaudy, inevitable, embarrassingly red Chinese flags, On every damn pole imaginable, In a Hong Kong that never was, and never will be.” Lyrics from (Once Upon a Future), “Life is a game, We wish it to be smooth, Relationships change, Those of us who were at Victoria Park, The things we cared so much about, Will we still care after we leave?”

Derek Chan cares deeply about his homeland and the pro-democracy movement. He no longer lives in Hong Kong but Hong Kong lives deeply within him. Happy Valley is theatre that comes from a place of strong personal commitment. Theatre that carries a message that is important to hear.

© 2022 Nancie Ottem