Who says Cantonese opera belongs to older generations? If Man Chin-sui could be seen as the best known actor in the bamboo theatres of the past, Keith Lai Yiu-wai is the face of modern Cantonese operas. Trained under Man and fellow Cantonese opera masters Poon Sai-lun, Lai doesn’t only put on classic shows, but has been adapting them into shorter, simpler versions for contemporary audiences. He has also reworked two Shakespeare classics, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, into Cantonese operas A Dream in Fantasia and The Arrant Revenge. In 2010, he was named the Most Promising Actor by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong and RTHK Radio 5. The following year, he was presented with the Award for Young Artist (Xiqu) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and subsequently formed his own troupe dedicated to new Cantonese operas. Lai is a core member behind the Xiqu Centre’s experimental Cantonese opera productions, Farewell My Concubine and Wenguang Explores the Valley and will appear in this year’s Black Box Chinese Opera Festival, which is being held at the Xiqu Centre from now until November 13.
Adopting my dog five months ago has changed my life. Every day, I wake up early to take my dog out for a walk. I love it, because it gets me into the habit of waking up early, and now I feel energised in the morning. After my morning stroll, I take a shower and I get ready for my day. I usually have breakfast in the neighborhood; breakfast is an important meal, as I tend to skip lunch for rehearsals.
I don’t usually alter my diet when I have to perform—consistency is key to ensuring [I stay healthy]. I sometimes take Chinese medicine as a natural supplement to maintain my health.