New Vision Arts Festival highlights: Imagination meets innovation

With a dazzling array of new productions, this year’s New Vision Arts Festival (NVAF) in Hong Kong celebrates its full-scale return to the international arena and reconnects with artists and arts producers from around the world. 

Anne Tsai, Senior Manager of the Festivals Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, shares some of the highlights of this year’s festival

Programme highlights:

Double Murder:

NVAF’s curtain rises with a powerful opening programme: Double Murder by the internationally acclaimed choreographer, Hofesh Shechter. This thrilling double bill is a riveting exploration of contrasting themes. Clowns, the first half of the evening, offers a sardonic commentary on society’s growing indifference to violence. 

In stark contrast, The Fix, the second half, serves as an antidote to offer a raw and compassionate moment to balance the forces of aggression and violence. The choreographer aims to convey a message through this double bill: only hope can counter loneliness and rupture. As simple as it seems, his reflection echoes more now than ever after the pandemic.

20-21 October
Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Another festival highlight is INK, the latest creation by celebrated Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou. This duet was created during the pandemic when young German dancer Šuka Horn was stranded in Greece. Set on the dark, bare stage, with only an irrigation system visible to the eye, INK is a feast of magical illusions. 

The dance-like push-and-pull between the two is filled with metaphor, evoking a primal repose and a haunting stalemate. Audiences will find themselves irresistibly drawn into this mesmerising nightmare. Following the resounding success of the world tour of The Great Tamer, Papaioannou returns to Hong Kong, even gracing the stage for all performances – an invigorating experience not to be missed.

9-11 November
Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Artist collaborations across borders and arts disciplines:

The Once and Future:

During the festival’s opening week, audiences will also be treated to The Once and Future, a collaboration across disciplines and cultures that raises the perennial question: what does it mean to be truly human? Combining film, laser displays and a live musical performance, it transports viewers to a world where humanity has sought refuge in the digital realm by existing as a collective artificial intelligence. 

Shot entirely in Argentina during the pandemic by the acclaimed Singaporean filmmaker, Yeo Siew Hua, the film is accompanied by an arresting musical score composed by Eugene Birman, who is now based in Hong Kong, and performed live by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker as the ZeMu! Ensemble Berlin, with Indian librettist and vocal soloist Anandi Bhattacharya personifying artificial intelligence in this captivating odyssey.

21-22 October
Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre 

Tao of Glass:

Tao of Glass is a theatrical exploration co-created by American minimalist music legend Philip Glass and Olivier award-winning director Phelim McDermott from the UK. Rooted on the artists’ personal journey, and inspired by a dream, this production marries 10 meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with 10 new compositions by Glass. 

During the show, audiences will witness re-creations of the profound conversations between Glass and McDermott, performed by McDermott and enhanced by symbolic props like sheet music and puppets. Premiered to critical acclaim at the Manchester International Festival 2019, this production garnered rave reviews from major media outlets.

26-29 October
Theatre, Hong Kong City Hall

Book of Mountains and Seas:

This is a daring vocal theatre new work by Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo and American puppeteer, designer and director Basil Twist. Drawing from ancient Chinese eponymous myths dating back to the 4th Century BCE, this production features singers from Ars Nova Copenhagen alongside two young talented percussionists, Karen Yu and Samuel Chan hailing from Hong Kong, as well as imposing puppets and captivating lanterns. The ancient myths recounted in the performances seem occult yet timeless. Against the backdrop of our current climate crisis, these stories serve as a compelling call to action, evoking a deep sense of reverence and awe for our environment, urging us all to be responsible stewards of our natural resources.

3-4 November,
Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre


NVAF’s commitment to fostering cultural exchange shines through the presentation of RAIN. Japanese choreographer Ryu Suzuki collaborates with visual artist Shinji Ohmaki and sound artist evala to adapt English writer Somerset Maugham’s short story into a dance work that sheds light on human relationships in the context of the pandemic. 

The literary metaphor of rain turns physical and overwhelming as Ohmaki brings his installation “Liminal Air – Black Weight” to the stage. Dancers become entwined in a sea of suspended black strands, while evala transforms musical tones into raindrops that touch the hearts of the audience. 

The upcoming NVAF edition sees the Japanese cast joined by two young dancers selected through audition organised by NVAF and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, exemplifying a meaningful cultural exchange that transcends borders.

10-12 November
Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Bach im Theater – St. John Passion:

Bach’s St. John Passion undergoes a remarkable transformation into contemporary theatre, courtesy of the visionary collaboration between choral artist Patrick Chiu and choreographer Ivanhoe Lam, both hailing from Hong Kong. 

In this audacious adaptation, Bach’s voice types and dramatic figures are reimagined, while choristers and soloists engage in a dynamic interplay of movement and action. This bold reinterpretation bestows fresh vitality upon the crucifixion story and Bach’s choral masterpiece, peeling away layers of history to challenge our understanding of how individuals’ fates intertwine. The performance showcases local choral group SingFest, alongside soloists and performers representing diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, including Reginald Mobley, the countertenor who performed at the coronation ceremony of Charles III earlier this year. This production garnered rave reviews during its preview in Germany and captured the hearts of audiences in Bach’s homeland.

18-19 November
Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre

Local productions:

In the Name of Hanjin:

For those seeking a truly immersive audio experience, In the Name of Hanjin awaits. This rhapsodic journey delves into the search for inspiration by the versatile music polyglot Hanjin Tan, offering a unique auditory exploration that transcends boundaries and genres.

3-5 November
Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

The Old Man and His Sea:

This production represents a remarkable reinterpretation of Hemingway’s timeless classic. This collaborative masterpiece brings together the esteemed local cultural figures, Yuen Siu-fai and Tang Shu-wing, both luminaries in their respective fields of Cantonese opera and contemporary theatre. Their imaginative retelling promises to breathe new life into the classic novella.

10-12 November
Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre