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Hyde Hui

(Photo by ISO staff)

Year 3, Fine Arts

Host Organization: Mei Lan Fang Theatre, Beijing

Hyde Hui likes painting with ink and wash. When she saw the option of going to Mei Lan Fang Theatre in Beijing, she signed up without the slightest hesitation. But she had close to zero knowledge with either theatre or Beijing opera, and that gave her butterflies in the stomach before departure.

When the four interns arrived at the opera house, they were assigned to three divisions—technology, administration, and service. 'I went to the technology section, where I learned to control the lighting, sound, and scenic elements. Far from despising me for my ignorance, the staff showed a great deal of patience in teaching me how to operate the machines and explaining the functions of each of the buttons. I learned that there is warm and cold light in theatrical lighting, that props, drapes, and backdrops are hung on pipes above the stage before the show, and their rise and drop during scene shifts are controlled entirely by a computer!'

Apart from backstage work, interacting with various troupes also brought Hyde unexpected fun. 'During the one and a half months, 70% of my time was spent on Beijing opera, the other 30% on performances by foreign troupes. One day, a circus from Ukraine came to the theatre to perform for kids. Staff at the theatre spoke little English, so I doubled as an interpreter. On another day, Mr. Mei Baojiu, son of the operatic master Mei Lanfang, held a disciple recruitment ritual at the theatre. I had the good fortune to listen to Mr. Mei talking about the evolution of the Mei School of Chinese opera.'

Taken at face value, working at a theatre seems to have little to do with Hyde's painting major. 'We paint what we experience. The more you know about an aspect of life, the more inspiration you get for your creation,' she said. The art student loves children and dreams about opening an art studio to teach kids to draw. After the internship, she saw the possibility of taking another path. 'I don't feel obliged to become an artist any more. Receiving troupes is also a good job. The circus from Ukraine led me to think that working in a theatre is another way of serving children.'


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