Contemporary Writing for Theatre


About New Writing

“New Writing” describes a phenomenon in the 1990s where a new generation of playwrights, namely based in Royal Court Theatre, London and coined as the makers of “in-yer-face” theatre emerged. The creative force was soon widespread to Europe and revitalized the text-based theatre making. It became particularly influential to the creation of a new wave of German theatre artists. The emergence of a diversity of highly crafted and innovative vocabularies and forms after the millennium in European playwriting, despite their very different histories and contexts, created an indispensible force to contemporary theatre.

New writing emerges against the background of globalization and the new times of insurgence. It is an attempt by theatre artists to capture the here-and-now, liberating themselves from traditional theatre vocabulary and the entrapment of consumerism.
— Damian Cheng, Hong Kong theatre critic
The playwrights fight back from the periphery of modern theatre, to which they have been marginalized. The revitalization of theatre text serves also as a return; the playwrights reclaim their voices in the nihilistic postmodern world.
— Yen Hung-ya, Taiwan theatre critic


Missions of New Writing

New writing investigates themes about contemporary life and immediate social issues, and delivers them in a diversity of highly crafted and innovative vocabularies and forms to revitalize the sensory experiences and imagination in traditional theatre. Seemingly a playwright’s challenge to the postmodern and postdramatic theatre since the 80s, new writing from the 90s is more than a proclamation of text against the domination of formalism and the avant-garde. It pronounces a closer relationship between text and the other elements in contemporary theatre; the mutual inspiration of text and theatre. A new approach of text calls for a more comprehensive and innovative exploration of theatre making, such as directing, acting, design and production methods.



Contemporary Writing for Theatre


Since 2006, On&On has been presenting exemplary European theatre works, introducing to the local audience a wealth of European playwrights iconic of their artistic adventure: Sarah Kane, Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp, Mark Ravenhill and Simon Stephens from the UK; Elfriede Jelinek and Marius von Mayenburg from Austria and Germany; as well as Bernard-Marie Koltès from France. On the one hand, the company has been identifying exemplary works from different origins, and on the other hand, local original works have also been produced.

 To enhance such efforts, in 2012, thanks to the support of Home Affairs Bureau, an initiative called “Contemporary Writing for Theatre” was set up to promote new writing in Hong Kong in a more extensive manner.

Phase I: 2012-2014

Phase I of the project covers theatre production, art appreciation, research and script translation, as well as publication. It aims at creating a comprehensive and sustainable platform where local theatre artists could share and learn from the resources built to enhance our understanding of the rather unfamiliar concept of new writing.

In the first three years, a theatre festival has been held annually; an international theatre conference was held in 2013. Other programmes include play reading galas, online archive, script library, outreach presentations and workshops. The comprehensive efforts bridge the wider theatre community and the audience with the missions and practices of new writing, widening our visions to the future of Hong Kong theatre.

Phase II: 2015-2019

Entering the second phase, On&On focuses on origin works and theatre production, putting the theories and learning from the first phase into practices. The researches on the cutting-edge new plays serve as important references that are now culturally translated into original works in Hong Kong that address more specifically to the local issues.

The second phase highlights the making of new writing instead of promoting the concept. A series of script development and full-length works, as well as play reading programmes have been produced, including commissioned annual productions, two large-scale play reading galas, productions by local and overseas guest directors, culminating to the “Our Time” series during the 20th Anniversary season in 2018.