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Interview - Andy Lo

David Cox

Aug 24, 2023

In 2019 Darkchat saw and enjoyed TS Crew perform at the Fringe, this year they are back with 3 shows, we caught up with the Andy Lo and asked what to expect from their link up with Hong Kong Soul.

"So, Andy, thank you for your time. Well, another Edinburgh festival approaches. You are presenting three shows this year "No Dragon No Lion", "Diary VII: The Story of" and "The (Hong) Kong Girls”. What can we expect from them all?

Hong Kong Soul is a contemporary platform set up by TS Crew to showcase the diversity and unique talents of Hong Kong artists in a collective way. It is a live performance catalogue featuring Hong Kong dance artists hoping to provide a comprehensive image of the Hong Kong dance scene to international audiences. You can expect to see a diverse range of dance works, from contemporary kung fu lion dance and circus to contemporary Chinese dance to experimental contemporary performance.

How are preparations going?

It hasn’t been easy but is a bit smoother now. From the beginning, we had the idea to create a platform of Hong Kong dance works in Edinburgh but didn’t have the resources, especially since the Fringe is so competitive. But Hong Kong Soul is a collective platform and each party was able to pull in different resources and networks, and finally, we have funding from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.

The rehearsals also went well, the choreographers and performers are ready now. And we’ve just had a pre-Edinburgh run in London on 29th and 30th July which helped a lot

What is your role in these productions?

I am one of the conceivers of Hong Kong Soul, also the company manager of TS Crew, the key motivator of Hong Kong Soul as well as the creator of No Dragon No Lion. I co-produce Hong Kong Soul with fellow producer Sky Sum.

I can't imagine what difficulties you encounter in transferring performers and sets from Hong Kong to Scotland. Is everything going to plan?

Since this is not my first time in Edinburgh, we know we have to keep our set as simple and flexible as possible and I’ve shared this information with all the participating choreographers. We have found a very good technical coordinator who moved to Edinburgh from Hong Kong some years ago so all planned and co-ordinated. We are in good and professional hands!

The festival starts in a little over a week' s time. Are you excited (we are), nervous, panicky?

Nervous but not too much at this stage. I was far more nervous when we had to convince our partners to take part in this collective platform. It is because we are self-producing and self-presenting and then we go beyond this! We are collectively producing and presenting each other in Hong Kong Soul. This is quite a rare concept in the context of the Hong Kong dance scene, so I was quite nervous to find the right

partners. But now I am very excited to go to Edinburgh again, this time with Hong Kong Soul.

We first saw TS Crew in 2019 with " Along" which we loved. I was really enjoying the energetic, liveliness of the performance when there was an unexpected additional piece relating to the political situation in Hong Kong. This, coupled with talking to the cast afterwards brought home to me the desperate situation there which I hadn't really got from the news coverage. Will this be reflected in any of the shows this year?

This year, we are more focused on upholding the culture as a way to uphold our own values, which is also the current context of Hong Kong. You can see Along as reflecting our road to building up our own and unique character. And in No Dragon No Lion, we look back into our own root of culture to develop it to something which is more relevant to the contemporary life of Hong Kong people, something we can own, instead of just preserving.

How important is it for you to represent Hong Kong at the festival?

I think the importance is not that we are representing Hong Kong but more what the Hong Kong Soul platform is representing. We’re a collective of artists and producers, our works have different focus, contents and representations. So I would rather say Hong Kong Soul is hoping to represent the diversity of Hong Kong artists, dance and art makers and their works.

How have things changed for a creative person in Hong Kong since 2019?

I cannot represent the whole art scene in HK but in general people tend to pay more attention and be aware of the way of presentation in order to maintain the space for creation and expression

When did you first hear about the Edinburgh festival?

TS Crew’s first time in Edinburgh was 2019 and we had a successful run with the idea of bringing Kung-Fu Contemporary Circus to Fringe. Riding on the success of Along, this year we are going to bring the idea and work of Kung-Fu Contemporary Lion Dance-Circus - No Dragon No Lion. Hopefully, we will have another successful year. As well as No Dragon No Lion we are presenting Diary VII: The Story of...... and The (Hong) Kong Girls triple bill, all under the banner of Hong Kong Soul. I hope the 1st edition of Hong Kong Soul has a very good start in Edinburgh this year. This is the first time at Edinburgh fringe for all three choreographer/performers of The (Hong) Kong Girls.

I personally first heard about Edinburgh festival in 2012 when I was working with a theatre director in another theatre company in Hong Kong who was bringing a show to the Fringe.

When you first came how did the reality differ from your expectations?

It wasn’t much different actually. We’d heard such a lot about the Fringe so I was prepared to cope with the particular reality of the Edinburgh festival. It's a bit strange but I was and am quite enjoying the atmosphere and vibe of it all.

Accommodation in Edinburgh in August is very expensive. Are you all staying together and do you have funding to cover your costs?

Yes, it is very expensive indeed. This year, we are very lucky that we have funding to cover the accommodation. Otherwise, it is quite impossible to bring a whole platform of 22 people and stage three shows in Edinburgh

Will you have time to see other shows and do some sight-seeing?

Though we have three shows a day, I think I do have time to do some sight-seeing. I’d especially like to go up to Arthur’s Seat. It’s my own ritual to go there every time I’m in Edinburgh. Also, I will stay behind for a few days after the Hong Kong Soul is finished on 13 Aug. I think I will go to the seaside to eat seafood and drink beer!

Finally, what will you do once the festival is over?

For TS Crew, we have to prepare for another tour in Paris in September. It is a collaboration with the Kung-Fu Contemporary Circus and Animation. And then we have another tour to Australia in October.

What are you most looking forward to at this year's festival.

I’m looking forward to more people noticing the Hong Kong Soul platform, recognising the Hong Kong artists and their works. Of course, we would welcome 4 and 5-star reviews and awards!

Thanks to Andy for his time, TS Crew's shows have now finished for this year, you can find out more information about them here.

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