Wednesday, 28 February 2007

A Personal Review of the Hong Kong Budget 2007-2008

Not surprisingly, I am not at all happy with the last budget speech presented by Financial Secretary Henry Tang today, despite the generous tax concessions proposed. To me, these significant measures to keep "wealth with the people" are nothing more than short-term sweeties from the benevolent knight to please his subjects before his next coronation four weeks away.

For Sir Donald, this is certainly a very important thing to do so that he can rest assured that his innocent subjects will share his pride and happiness of being crowned the third chief executive of the special administrative region instead of spoiling the party excitement.

Building on Sir Donald's policy address delivered last October, Mr Tang attaches a price tag to almost each of the proposed policies and measures that generally makes good sense. However, for some items such as additional support specifically for pre-school education, victims of domestic violence and promotion of mental health, the additional funding are appallingly small. I remain to be convinced how several millions of dollars would adequately address these issues.

The so-called promotion of creative industries is yet another joke. Obviously Mr Tang is too remote from the local film industry to understand how much it costs to produce a reasonably decent film. The film financing fund of HK$300 million is embarrassingly minor if we remember how much each of the local icons such as Andy Lau, Tony Leung (there are two of them though) charges, at least nominally, for a project. For international stars such as Chow Yun-fat and Jackie Chan, the financing pool is just peanuts.

More importantly, why does the film industry is the only privileged creative industry that receives government support? How about computer and video game programming? How about performing arts such as Cantonese Opera? Aren't these also the essential creative industries that shape the cultural lives of old and young generations of Hong Kong people?

While I understand that Mr Tang may not be in the best position to offer an insightful blueprint on the future of Hong Kong, I still can't help repeating some questions that I think are essential to achieve sustainable development and a truly harmonious community.

The most important question of all is, while we have taken the path of developing into a knowledge-based economy with a heavy focus on the financial sector, either voluntarily or merely by chance, why haven't we taken a step backwards and think about whether this is a good choice or not? Why haven't we thought about how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of people who have been excluded from being qualified to work and share the harvest of this lucrative sector?

We have already had too much rhetoric about an ageing population. We have already had too many people abandoned in misery and poverty since our manufacturing sector demised as a result of the opening reforms of our motherland. Yet we also know too well that the financial sector requires the top notch of people and those working in the financial sector of Hong Kong are, let's face it man, mostly expatriates. How to properly help and take care of the abandoned and disadvantaged majority instead of just giving them short-term and limited support such as public transport subsidies or promoting social enterprises is truly a statesman's job. Turning a blind eye to those who have been made victims of earlier policies is simply not the way going forward, if any. We just can't ask them to leave Hong Kong and concentrate on luring the elite and experts, can we?

Unfortunately a person qualified for this job has yet to emerge in Hong Kong.

各有各的緣法

從報上得知陳曉旭剃度出家的消息,雖然出乎意料,倒是不感驚訝。我只佩服她身在富貴溫柔鄉中,不為塵緣所絆的灑脫。

那才是真正的看透、真正的解放。我輩凡夫俗子,望塵莫及,只有瞠目結舌的份兒。

陳曉旭是誰?相信很多香港人都不太清楚,但她曾於二十多年前內地中央電視台製作的《紅樓夢》劇集中飾演林黛玉。從此一舉成名天下知。

陳曉旭演出過的作品極少,最為人熟悉的就是林黛玉,彷彿她就是黛玉再生。論名氣,恐怕連演活了黛玉的越劇名家王文娟也要遜讓三分。

很多陳曉旭的癡心影迷,在網上洋洋灑灑地發表意見,大部分人最初都不願相信,甚至破口大罵傳出消息的人居心叵測。看得出大夥兒都是塵緣未了、汲汲於貪嗔癡三界的普通人,往往以各種各樣無從證實的猜測來解釋陳曉旭出家的原因。這固然是情有可原,但也未免褻瀆了佛門清淨地,更否定了當事人潛心修道的虔誠。說到底,這些猜測也不過是以小人之心度君子之腹。

我對於佛法的認識極淺薄,只懂拾人牙慧,更沒有修道的慧根;只深信各有各的緣法,既然陳曉旭決定捨棄紅塵,潛心學佛,又有甚麼不好?旁人又有何置喙的餘地?為甚麼非要把清修守戒說成是落拓失意者的避難所?別有懷抱的傷心人避世空門,固然是有的,卻不能以偏概全。

風流才子唐伯虎《桃花庵歌》有云:「別人笑我忒瘋癲,我笑他人看不穿」,正是我輩紅塵中人的寫照。

如今顰兒穿起緇衣,搖身一變成了青燈古佛旁的惜春--《紅樓夢》迷哥迷姐先別打我,因為根據曹公在「金陵十二釵」曲子裡透露的天機,惜春才是最後潛心向佛之人,妙玉卻是「可憐金玉質,終陷淖泥中」--霎時間讓人難以接受,可以理解;但這始終是她個人的意願,旁人無權干涉。只希望那些又哭又鬧的影迷可以收斂一下,不要騷擾人家清修。

妙真師傅,謹祝修道順遂,功德圓滿。

Sunday, 25 February 2007

桃花依舊,流水無情--崑劇《1699.桃花扇》札記

繼白先勇統籌的崑劇《牡丹亭》後,余光中教授也不甘後人,與江蘇崑劇院合作,排演孔尚任的名劇《1699.桃花扇》,作為今年「香港藝術節」的重頭戲,自然不能錯過。

顧名思義,《桃花扇》是敷演明末「秦淮八艷」之一的李香君,不惜血濺桃花,為侯朝宗守節拒奸的故事。不過,孔尚任開宗明義說得明白,《桃花扇》是為了「借離合之情,寫興亡之感」(試一齣〈先聲〉語),與唐滌生先生的《帝女花》有異曲同工之妙。

明朝是中國歷史上最後一個漢族皇朝,不足三百年的朱家天下,留給後人嘆息、嘲笑和鄙視的東西,恐怕比令人讚嘆、引以為榮的更多。不過,那些生於明末渾沌亂世的人,如何在洶湧澎湃的時代洪流裡自處的故事,始終深深的吸引著我。《帝女花》的主角是長平公主和周世顯,《桃花扇》的主角是李香君,也是史可法,也是左良玉,身分各異,但他們身上所散發的光芒,都是同樣經得起歲月的考驗。

要撥開數百年飄渺迷茫的煙霧,叩問他們的心事,體會他們的處境,實在不能操之過急,必須讓眼睛和心靈都有足夠的時間,把一顰一笑、一字一句沉澱下來,仔細咀嚼,才不會辜負作者艱苦經營十餘年、三易其稿的苦心。

所以,要把全長四十四齣的《桃花扇》濃縮在三小時內演完,未免野心太大,頗有削足適履之憾。整晚演來,就像舞台底景那一幅令人耀眼生花、目不瑕給的南京浮世繪,卻始終輕描淡寫,水過鴨背,無法像《帝女花》那樣,深深觸動同樣在時代的滾滾巨輪之下無所適從、沮喪無助的我。

這一本《桃花扇》共分六齣,以李香君、侯朝宗的悲歡離合為主軸,輔以魏忠賢餘黨馬士英、阮大鋮等人在南京擅作威福,左良玉和史可法獨力難支的政治背景。以戲論戲,劇本剪裁尚算適可,但有很多要緊場口欠缺了深入的鋪敘和發揮,感人程度因此大打折扣,十分可惜。例如,由於李香君性情剛烈,不肯接受阮大鋮厚賜奉承,連累侯朝宗要逃往揚州投靠早前被調往當地督師抗清的史可法。本來這是一個非常合適的契機,透過史可法和侯朝宗兩個各懷牽絆的人,把南京和揚州之間唇齒相依、風起雲湧的局面連繫起來,可是侯朝宗始終沒有在史可法麾下出現,彷如人間蒸發。劇本把原著中這條穩固的紐帶無聲無息地刪掉了一半,所以長江南北一鬆一緊、充滿壓逼感的形勢對比,隨之蕩然無存。其實,我認為這份千鈞一髮、如箭在弦的壓逼感很重要,因為這是明末江南波詭雲譎的精髓,如果沒有了,孔尚任要表達的「興亡之感」也就無從說起。

所以,我認為最精彩、最令人動容的情節,不是李香君和侯朝宗花前月下虛應故事似的卿卿我我,而是左良玉領軍溯江而下,欲清君側,卻被兒子出賣,奮戰而死;史可法在揚州孤軍抗敵,好容易感染到三千子弟拚死報國,卻始終敵不過無情的命運,慷慨就義。〈哭主〉、〈沉江〉兩折,戲文雖短,卻令我良久難以釋懷。難怪余教授說自己事隔五十年後看到這兩折,仍是「愴然涕下」。我有幸生於太平盛世,不過長了幾歲,仍覺百般滋味在心頭;像他那樣親歷離亂、四海飄零的老人家,自然感觸更深。

戲裡戲外,就是如此糾纏不清。這也正是戲劇引人入勝之處。

無論演甚麼戲,除了紮實的劇本外,演員的功力也很重要。因為即使寫得再精彩萬端的劇本,也需要演員燙貼細膩的演繹,才可以令案頭文章和人物的感情活過來,給觀眾帶來感官上的享受。平心而論,這次《桃花扇》的演員唱做甚佳,儘管他們年紀尚輕,未能充分體會和發揮戲中人物的興亡之感,總算是對觀眾、對老師有所交代了。

戲院裡燈光太暗,沒有翻閱場刊,回來仔細看清楚了,才知道原來這齣《桃花扇》的演員年輕得很,平均只有二十歲,都是出生於1985至1987年的小姑娘、小夥子;其中飾演觸柱前李香君的那一位,更只有十七、八歲,是1989年出生的,我的歲數幾乎比她大了一倍。這些演員畢竟是生於太平年代、入世未深的年輕人,怎能苛求他們單憑老師的指導和自己的體會,充分表達生逢末世的劇中人,還有他們複雜迂迴的感情?所以,因為他們的年輕,我已經原諒他們的輕浮、稚嫩和有形無神。

最後,在謝幕的時候,每個行當的演員挽著指導老師的手,一起接受觀眾的掌聲,又轉過身去給老師深深鞠躬。有些老師摸摸學生的頭皮,或者親親他們的臉,或者把學生一擁入懷,以示嘉許,場面溫馨感人,竟讓我看傻了眼,心中湧起一陣莫名的悸動。腦海裡不禁想起《帝女花》公演時,公主殿下和駙馬爺每天晚上總是不厭其煩,把她們的授業恩師請出台前,一起接受觀眾的掌聲和歡呼;早陣子在上海舉辦了紀念越劇名家尹桂芳的演唱會,幾位成了名的尹派弟子,一起站在台前給遠方的老師獻花。觀照如今錙銖必較、人情淡薄,連教育也淪為政治本錢和買賣關係的香港,怎不叫人感慨叢生、汗顏無地?

別跟我說這是討好觀眾、故弄玄虛的「真人騷」。別再用犬儒淺薄的目光,褻瀆人家純樸真摯的感情。何況那不是戲文,演給誰看?難道有觀眾會為了這種「真人騷」再進戲院不成?

古代曾以「戲子無義」詆譭演戲的人,如今在人欲橫流、道德淪喪的年代,這個古老的行業卻能恪遵聖賢的教誨,刻苦而安分地把深厚的技藝和純樸的感情,繼續薪火相傳下去。

這齣《桃花扇》,只是這些年輕演員的第一份習作。戲劇學生是沒有真正畢業的,他們日後還有很長的路要走。但願他們會排除萬難,堅持下去,不要辜負眾位老師的苦心和期望。

Saturday, 17 February 2007

A Special New Year's Eve

This is my first working Lunar New Year's Eve that I have ever had.

Even though I did not achieve as much as expected other than attending a constructive meeting at the client's office, I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for myself to have missed most of the first day of the Lunar New Year holidays, during which I have a long list of personal stuff to complete.

I thought I would have been mature and sensible enough to live up with it. My seniors had to work too, and they obviously worked longer hours than I did. Thousands and millions of people out there are in similar situations. I am never alone. Yet there is still a considerable level of unhappiness dragging along inside me that was unable to be eradicated after a great workout.

Perhaps I am just not as mature and professional as I thought of myself. But I am not sure if I should beef up my emotional quotient or just to live up with the internal conflict of sense and sensibility that seems to have come with my birth rather than something that I picked up from someone.

In any case, I do hope things will go smoothly in the next two weeks without disrupting my personal schedule too much, although I have already launched a self-persuasion campaign that there is a great possibility that something is going to happen and my Arts Festival programmes will have to be written off.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

自是花中第一流

千呼萬喚始出來。我終於看到內地武俠劇《碧血劍》了。

平生第一次看金庸小說,就是從《碧血劍》開始的,算起來已是二十多年前(!)的事了,當時我還只是個小學生。我跟很多讀者一樣,總覺得金蛇郎君、溫儀和何紅藥的故事,是全書最精彩、最引人入勝、最令人低迴不已的情節。後來我看遍了所有金庸小說,才發覺這一段狂烈似火、溫軟如水的故事,原來是以寫情見長的金庸作品之中,一記不可多得的神來之筆。

因為這個小小的情意結,這些年來,我一直留意著《碧血劍》的影視改編本。除了上世紀五十年代的粵語電影版,還有已倒閉的佳藝電視於七十年代拍的首個粵語電視劇版外,其餘的都看過了。

這些年來屢敗屢戰的失望,早讓我練就了一副鐵石心腸;縱然並非金剛不壞,尋常戲文已難動搖心旌半分。儘管明知《碧血劍》有晴姐客串助陣,總是不敢期望太高。這當然與晴姐無涉,只因見過不知凡幾一身本領的優秀演員,被那些眼高手低的導演和犯駁不通的劇本累及英名。

欲挽無從,欲哭無淚。

說甚麼也不能讓晴姐有虎落平陽之嘆--儘管一切已成定局,我只能心裡乾著急。

所以,看內地版《碧血劍》之前,心裡說不出的忐忑,深怕編導力不從心,或者刻意求工、斧鑿太過,把原著最令人難忘的一段砸掉了。可是,同時又禁不住心癢難搔,盼星星盼月亮的,想看看晴姐怎樣演繹金蛇郎君口中「又美貌、又溫柔、又天真」的溫儀。

香港無線先後於1985年和2000年把《碧血劍》改編為電視劇,可惜兩位溫儀均無法令人滿意。1985年版由曾慶瑜演溫儀,她外貌成熟,眉宇間天生一股鬱怨。編導借助她的獨特氣質,集中表現溫儀在情郎遭暗算後,十八年來和女兒相依為命的幽怨愁苦;她本人的演技也無法讓她突破外貌的限制。所以她扮演「滿臉愁容」的中年溫儀十分稱職,少女時代則極勉強。曾在1983年《射鵰英雄傳》飾演楊康的苗僑偉,這次要黏上鬍子演金蛇郎君,可能師承1981年邵氏電影版的餘緒(畢竟無線和邵氏系出同源,老闆是同一人),更可能是出於與溫儀匹配的考慮。

吳美珩是少數甚得我心的香港演員,可惜近年無線製作人員不思進取,劇集水準江河日下,始終沒有讓她充分發揮所長的機會。我曾期望2000年版《碧血劍》的溫儀可以為她打破冷傲自信、外剛內柔的都會女子形象,可惜未竟全功。這一版《碧血劍》著重描寫溫儀善良柔順的一面--小雞、小鴨、小野兔都出場給她跑龍套,然後是縫衣、洗燙、做飯等尋常家務,為金蛇郎君義無反顧地愛上她補足了理由。可是編劇仁兄仁姐為德不卒,倏地筆鋒一轉,溫儀在女兒滿月不久就失足掉下枯井,被叔伯活埋致死,然後由原著所無、年輕十歲的妹妹代姊出場……

唉,這還算是《碧血劍》嗎?

所謂「一朝被蛇咬,十年怕草繩」,我畢竟只是凡夫俗子,在看內地版《碧血劍》之前,怎麼可能不提心吊膽?

但是,我非常慶幸,這一切只是杞人憂天。

晴姐的溫儀,是目前所看到的戲劇改編本中,最完美、最符合原著描寫的。繼三、四年前《射鵰英雄傳》的包惜弱之後,晴姐讓《碧血劍》的溫儀冉冉重生,猶如從書裡走出來一般,直教我目瞪口呆,幾乎不敢相信自己的眼睛。

原著裡的溫儀性格單純,具體來說,就只有金蛇郎君那「又美貌、又溫柔、又天真」的九字真言。不過,戲劇改編本始終無法迴避中年溫儀回憶自己十六歲時邂逅金蛇郎君的場景,要兼顧純潔少女和滄桑中年的感覺,實在不容易。我相信這也是為甚麼無線兩個改編本都削足適履,不是把溫儀的性格壓縮成一點,就是把情節胡刪亂改,因為香港根本沒有可以自然磊落地從少女演到中年的女演員。

然而,晴姐做到了。

以晴姐的演技和氣質,飾演美貌溫柔的中年溫儀絕非難事,甚至可以說是當行本色,不作他人想。不過,歷練世故的成年人,要返樸歸真演繹天真爛漫的少女,卻是比登天還難的事情。這是對演技的真正考驗,因為演技不只是身段和語氣(何況現在的劇集大都另有配音,根本聽不著演員唸白的功夫),更重要的是眼神和情態,而且必須自然蘊藉,不能過火,稍一不慎就全軍盡墨。須知道,天真不是白癡,嬌憨不是低能,久閱世情的人,愈是拚命想回復少年男女的淳厚自然,愈是急於求成、難以自制,效果只能適得其反。

請原諒我對晴姐信心不足,只因我深知飾演少女溫儀的難處,說得上是mission impossible。年紀愈長、閱歷愈深,難度也愈高。即使身段和語氣都過關了,往往只輸在眼神和情態上,尤其是眼神。這是最難掌握和最容易把人出賣的關鍵。如能把眼眸裡的智慧和閱歷暫時剔走,那就是深不可測的功力。

所以,當我看見那個一身粉紅衣裙的女孩兒,在風和日麗的院子裡蕩鞦韆,笑得雙靨如花,眼睛瞇成兩條縫;在山洞裡說哭就哭,像小孩一樣哭得眼睛鼻子嘴巴擠成一團;在繁花似錦的夜裡,站在鞦韆上跟朝思夜想的情郎四目交投,星眸含笑,粉臉如朝霞初綻、春暖融融……我只有瞠目結舌的份兒。

我甚至捨不得一下子跳回十八年後的「現實」,讓我看到十八年來的相思、盼望、悲苦和怨恨,如何把一個無憂無慮、光風霽月的女孩兒,折磨成噤若寒蟬、忍辱偷生的中年婦人。

不知道有多少人像我一樣喜歡晴姐的溫儀。只是奇怪,為甚麼那許多網友會為青青和阿九誰更可愛、誰更漂亮、誰才是袁承志真心所愛而吵得臉紅脖子粗。難道他們沒有注意,少女溫儀明眸裡的清澈晶瑩,容不下一絲塵俗?中年溫儀深顰淺黛之間,似淡還濃的寂寞和淒苦?更要緊的是,這一切渾然天成,不著半點斧鑿痕跡,豈是尋常雕蟲小技可比?

看晴姐演繹美貌溫柔、天真可愛的溫儀,不禁記起易安居士有詠桂詞《鷓鴣天》云:

暗淡輕黃體性柔,情疏跡遠只香留。
何須淺碧深紅色,自是花中第一流。
梅定妒,菊應羞。畫闌開處冠中秋。
騷人可煞無情思,何事當年不見收?

「自是花中第一流」,晴姐當之無愧。


附錄:歷年《碧血劍》戲劇改編本

片名/劇名類型年份演員(角色)
《碧血劍》(上、下)粵語電影1958(上)
1959(下)
吳楚帆(夏雪宜)
羅艷卿(溫儀)
《碧血劍》粵語電視劇1977石天(夏雪宜)
胡茵茵(溫儀)
魏秋樺(何紅藥)
《情俠追風劍》
註:根據《碧血劍》改編,
情節相似,唯人物姓名不同
國語電影1980凌雲(白一鵬)
李麗麗(冷秋霞)
《碧血劍》國語電影1981龍天翔(夏雪宜)
井莉(溫儀)
《碧血劍》粵語電視劇1985苗僑偉(夏雪宜)
曾慶瑜(溫儀)
高妙思(何紅藥)
《新碧血劍》粵語電影1993李修賢(金蛇郎君)
李美鳳(溫夫人)
《碧血劍》粵語電視劇2000江華(夏雪宜)
吳美珩(溫儀)
關寶慧(何紅藥)
《碧血劍》國語電視劇2007焦恩俊(夏雪宜)
何晴(溫儀)
郭金(何紅藥)