Sunday, 29 April 2012

《紅樓夢》之大觀園外

從演技的層面看,《紅樓夢》是粵港合作、新舊交融的新嘗試,雖然頗有未盡如人意之處,整體而言倒是欣然可喜而值得鼓勵的。若從製作的層面看,則已難分內地或香港了。早在二零零四年浙江省主辦的第七屆中國藝術節,我所看到的戲曲節目,不論崑劇京劇越劇,其布景、服裝、道具等美術細節的精致、簡約、典雅和唯美色彩,早已超越香港一般戲班商業演出的水平了。

這次《紅樓夢》的布景設計,也是接近內地近年流行的簡約路線,看上去清新悅目,相當別致。底景是一排紅彤彤、鑲滿雕花窗櫺的門戶,分成三、四段,可以像砌積木一般自由組合,但主要還是砌成一個三面封閉的「凹」字形,連衣、雜兩邊的虎度門也遮住了,只有向著觀眾席那一邊是空著的。到了〈笞寶玉〉那一場,後排的底景來個一百八十度轉動,把黑色靠內的一面翻將出來,營造森嚴肅穆的氣氛,甚具創意。這個設計有點眼熟,教我想起多年前香港藝術節搬演余光中教授指導的崑劇《桃花扇》。不過當時舞臺左、右、後面都是中間鏤空的迴廊,不是可以開闔或拆除的門板。另外,這次演出的背景燈光透過窗櫺灑落舞臺前端,在地上印出不同的色彩和花紋,讓二、三樓的觀眾欣賞到不一樣的視覺效果。

服裝設計我是一竅不通,難以置評,但從用色方面看,還是偏向鮮艷濃稠,那些螢光藍、螢光橙之類的顏色,坦白說真有點刺眼,也不符合劇情所需──明清時代哪來的螢光色?更何況林黛玉孤標傲世,與薛寶釵的練達世故是鮮明對比,似乎也可以借助服裝顏色來表達。現在雖云兩人的服裝顏色已有深淺之分,但又不是玩魔術,竊以為螢光色真的不太適合用來製作戲服,尤其是《紅樓夢》這些改編自古典文學的作品,還是保留多一點典雅清麗為佳。例如〈葬花〉那一場,我還是喜歡公主殿下那一襲藍色衣裙,雖然繡花圖案略嫌華麗了些,仍不失清雅脫俗。如果沒記錯,蔣文端那一襲衣裙少了盈裙滿襟的繡花圖案,但偏向螢光色的淺藍與粉紅(還是粉橙?),配搭起來有點俗氣,反而不妙。最後〈哭靈〉和〈幻覺離恨天〉裡,寶玉也一改傳統的藍色裝束,穿起白底金線的服裝,與歸班復位的絳珠仙子配成一對。我對此沒甚麼意見,喜歡不喜歡則是見仁見智了。我最讚賞的反而是結尾〈幻覺離恨天〉一眾仙女的舞衣,全部改成素淨的白色,教人想起原著裡「白茫茫大地真乾淨」的結局,總比原來彩衣繡球,像「七彩蝦條姐姐」那麼俗艷的造型優勝得多。此外,仙女的水袖比一般舞衣長了至少兩倍,舞蹈也以袖功為主,只見衣袂飄飄,俊逸靈動,煞是好看。

自從白雪仙監製的《西樓錯夢》與《帝女花》取得空前成功以來,不惜工本精雕細琢的製作、高昂得令人卻步的票價,彷彿已成定例,從去年底的《龍情詩意半世紀》到今天的《紅樓夢》,票價高處未算高,可為明證。當年拙文也忍不住質疑,這種所謂把粵劇推向「高雅精致」實則淪為達官貴人專利的趨勢,是否於粵劇的長遠發展有所裨益。捫心自問,演出是否高雅精致,與票價高低並沒有必然的關係,揮金如土不等於有格調有品味,反之亦然。在今天內地遊客遍地開花的香港,難道我們還不明白嗎?

平心而論,這次《紅樓夢》的美術設計,無論在意念或執行細節上,模仿《西樓錯夢》和《帝女花》的痕跡非常明顯,畢竟智在人後,難稱上乘,而且感覺庸俗,與《紅樓夢》的格調並不相配,十分可惜。我甚至懷疑製作者到底有沒有熟讀《紅樓夢》原著,抑或只看過不同的改編本。美術指導奚仲文早前為《龍情詩意半世紀》設計海報和造型,已叫我極不滿意,沒想到今次竟然重蹈覆轍,而且兩者的設計意念雷同之處甚多,真令我無言以對。例如兩位主角的造型照,電腦加工的斧鑿痕跡太明顯,美感不足,反覺矯揉造作。宣傳海報加上密密麻麻的牡丹圖案,大概是為了營造大觀園花團錦簇的富貴氣象,在我看來卻是畫蛇添足、俗不可耐。劇名的行書美術字甚為美觀,但從左至右的洋文寫法卻暴露了製作者對傳統文化的無知與輕視。既然場刊沿用傳統從右至左,從上而下的垂直排版,為甚麼偏偏只有劇名反其道而行?開幕前和過場採用投影的電腦動畫,播放全新創作、曲風洋化的主題音樂,明顯是沿用《帝女花》的做法,但當時這個安排也並非獲得一致好評,反而引起一些爭議。到底是否真的適合?抑或製作者認為祖師奶奶創下的先例,就一定不會錯?也別說那些錯漏百出的字幕,實在令人搖頭再三。例如寶玉的出場曲:「無故尋愁和覓恨,有時似戇又如癡」,字幕顯示的竟變成了「尋仇」,嚇得我眼珠子幾乎掉了下來。「尋仇」?寶二爺跟誰有仇了?即便是有,既與天上掉下來的林妹妹相見,跟「尋仇」有啥關係?來到〈幻覺離恨天〉,「孽滿情闌」又寫成「孽滿情瀾」。其實「瀾」是波濤,「闌」才是到了盡頭的意思。如此種種,到底反映了製作者甚麼問題?相信看官自有判斷,毋庸贅言了。

最後,想談談對劇本整理的感想。如拙文前述,這次演出採用葉紹德編撰的劇本,只有〈焚稿歸天〉一折改用《情僧偷渡瀟湘館》的曲詞。坦白說,葉版的曲詞已不見得很出色,但《情僧》版〈焚稿歸天〉的曲詞更庸俗。既然在製作和美術細節上耗費那麼多精神心血,為甚麼在整理劇本方面除了刪減曲詞外,又不見得下過甚麼功夫?場刊甚至隻字不提負責整理劇本的工作人員名字,到底是甚麼緣故?因為那是集體創作,還是怕擔干係,抑或為免淪為眾矢之的?其實,這次刪削的曲詞甚多,演出時間因而縮減了至少半小時;但始終無法令鬆散的劇情結構更緊密,反而因為刪去不少滾花等特有的程式曲子,令全劇變得像話劇多於粵劇。不過,〈幻覺離恨天〉一段刪去了乙反木魚轉乙反南音那一小段,我倒是沒甚麼意見,反正來到〈幻覺離恨天〉已經沒戲可演,唱來唱去只是一個癡心不悟、一個欲斷難斷,功力稍遜者固然難以支持,就是感情澎湃如公主殿下也覺得太勞神費力,實在沒必要如此辛苦。這是粵劇改革中最具爭議又無可避免的話題,孰優孰劣同樣見仁見智;但作為真心支持粵劇的觀眾,應該深思箇中的利弊,如實反映意見,別讓製作者閉門造車才是。

《紅樓夢》之大觀園內

懷著一點好奇心去欣賞陳寶珠、蔣文端主演的粵劇《紅樓夢》,整體觀感較想像中為佳,甚是欣慰。

陳寶珠雖是任劍輝的入室弟子,多年來專注於電影事業,粵劇演出寥寥可數。我不知道她有沒有持之以恆的練唱、練功,但演量稀少,技巧較為生疏,卻是人之常情。近年她踏臺板較多,慈善義演和商業演出都有,但都是折子戲,足本戲似乎還是破題兒第一遭。

早於九十年代初,已看過蔣文端參演的無線劇集,對她清秀內斂的氣質頗有印象,卻不知道原來她是學粵劇的。既然沒看過蔣文端的演出,與陳寶珠也是難得的組合,所以亟欲一睹為快。

大概因為《紅樓夢》最好看的始終是曹公原著,無論哪一個改編本、由哪一位演繹,心裡總是揮不去一丁點兒抗拒感。由陳寶珠演繹賈寶玉,坦白說,看宣傳海報的時候就覺得味道不太對,可能因為她太瘦了,稍欠寶玉「面若中秋之月,色如春曉之花」的富泰感覺。但見她披著斗篷、手指轉著一個甚麼玩意兒跳蹦蹦地出場,雖說是寶玉亮相的指定動作了,那份活潑俏皮的感覺倒也活瓏活現。正如Shirley所言,很欣賞她的神情、動作較為內斂,不必擠眉弄眼故作浮誇,也能表達寶玉的嬌憨和癡態。例如〈探病.贈帕〉一場,她佯裝睡著了,暗地裡卻命襲人送走喋喋不休的寶釵,那些小動作有趣而不過火。之後發覺怡紅院四下無人,悶極無聊,坐在床邊垂下了頭,輕輕踢幾下腿,不用說話,也盡得寶玉少不更事的神髓。

來到重頭戲〈洞房驚變〉和〈哭靈〉,感情更是揮灑自如,哭腔運用頗見功力,就連「龍鳳燭,龍鳳燭……」的唱法也不一樣,前句滿懷憤慨,後句悲慟莫名,不禁佩服她的細致用心。本來不太喜歡〈哭靈〉,因為沿用徐玉蘭激昂高亢的演法,似不符合寶黛之情,但既然已成範例,也就無可如何了。難得陳寶珠選擇以較為內斂的方法來演繹,一腔悲憤已略作沉澱,更令人感到天人永隔、無可挽回的淒酸和無奈,更接近寶玉應有的心情,不禁想起多年前趙志剛來港演出尹桂芳版的越劇《紅樓夢》。很喜歡尹派的〈哭靈〉,因為寶玉在瀟湘館外「鳳尾森森,龍吟細細」的竹林穿梭踱步,連紫鵑也識趣的走開了,讓寶玉獨自跟黛玉作最後訣別。在那花團錦簇的大觀園裡,沒有了林妹妹,奼紫嫣紅都是多餘、沒意義的。在那瀟湘館中,青翠欲滴的竹子隨風輕拂,卻揮不去他無邊無際的寂寞,只有撩起無窮無盡的怨恨和傷感。彷彿世上從此只剩下他一個人,排山倒海的悲傷與寂寥,看上去卻是深沉而不外露,更教人肅然動容。可惜只此一次下不為例,如今無法重尋了。

這次演出採用葉紹德為「雛鳳鳴」編撰的劇本,脫胎自徐玉蘭、王文娟膾炙人口的越劇版,但不免仍作了一些修改。葉版本來就沒有〈讀《西廂》〉,另加上〈幻覺離恨天〉作結局,這次演出的每一折曲詞也給刪削不少,只剩下最關鍵的唱段和口白,約十一點就完場了;又將原來的〈焚稿歸天〉,改用《情僧偷渡瀟湘館》同一折的曲詞,大概是為了遷就蔣文端的緣故。據稱內地粵劇團搬演的《紅樓夢》,其實是《情僧偷渡瀟湘館》,與香港常見的葉版迥異。

慶幸早前在大會堂五十周年的紀念專題《叱吒風雲五十年》中,看過尹飛燕與吳仟峰擔綱的《情僧偷渡瀟湘館》,對這一版的〈焚稿歸天〉不至於完全陌生。燕姐再次盡顯身價,看到一半,已不用理會她在唱些甚麼,只盯著她聲淚俱下的表情、聽她聲嘶力竭的控訴,且不管是否符合曹公筆下嬌矜自持的黛玉,一顆心只顧揪著疼。蔣文端演來中規中矩,扮相清雅、唱腔優美、身段曼妙,全都若合符節,感情也相當投入,但不知怎地始終少了一點感人肺腑的深度。我知道內地粵劇的風格和香港南轅北轍,他們講究字正腔圓、音準聲甜,以藝帶戲;香港卻講究以劇情、人物為依歸,感情投入為先,以戲揚藝。看得出蔣文端已努力調整其唱腔和演技,可惜未竟全功。上星期天和Shirley同看那一場表現較佳,與陳寶珠的演技雖有距離,但也未算太懸殊,稱得上勢均力敵,所以看得相當愜意。不知怎地星期五和Ramie再看,卻又偏向了內地的風格,使本來已是平庸沒神采的《情僧》版〈焚稿歸天〉,感染力更打折扣。其實初看她〈黛玉進府〉時那一道精光四射、目光如炬的眼神,大概已猜知她難以擺脫固有的演法,心中不免有些疙瘩。就事論事,無論「以藝帶戲」或是「以戲揚藝」,很難說誰對誰錯、孰好孰壞,只有喜歡不喜歡。但因為我自小習慣了香港的風格,一時三刻要接受別的東西,即使做足了心理準備,仍是不太容易。我更明白蔣文端一定付出了難以估計的心力,不但要熟記對她而言是全新的曲詞──當然包括全場觀眾比她更熟極如流的〈幻覺離恨天〉,又要調整唱腔與演技,壓力之沉重可想而知。能有這樣的成績,已經非常不錯了。

劇中其他演員新舊參半,但大都是熟悉的陣容,例如任冰兒的王熙鳳、阮兆輝的賈政,便是公主殿下的老拍檔,演來自是駕輕就熟,保持一貫水準。其他如李婉誼的王夫人、盧麗斯的襲人,都是公主麾下熟悉多年的臉孔。今次起用新人鄭雅琪演薛寶釵、王潔清演晴雯、黎耀威演忠順王府長府官,都很稱職,只是戲份不多,難有發揮。陳鴻進演賈母,始終略欠火候,那些老人特有的神態和動作,尚未充分掌握,演來終隔一層。說話的聲線和節奏也嫌太急促,少了賈母慣見風浪的氣定神閒、綿裡藏針的不怒自威,看來他仍須努力。

Thursday, 19 April 2012

神功戲

從南丫島的仙界跌回凡間,已非一日,但心情仍未平復。仔細思量,更覺百感交集。

自問從小是戲癡,最愛看戲聽故事,形式不拘,最重要是故事精采、人物傳神。因此,對神功戲這種形式,一直既愛且恨。

顧名思義,神功戲是指酬謝神祇功德、祈求風調雨順平安喜樂而作的戲劇表演,所以戲棚往往搭在廟宇門前,而且要舉行特別的儀式,把神祇從廟座「請」出戲臺,以便祂專心欣賞。換言之,供奉的神祇才是真正的觀眾,鄉親父老只是敬陪末座。像天后誕、洪聖爺誕等賀誕演出,其實就像給神靈開生日派對一樣,大夥兒都是來湊熱鬧的賀客,卻不是正主兒。

從社會學、人類學的角度看,神功戲是一個獨特的文化場合,讓不同的社會行為同時進行,例如神靈崇拜、經營買賣、宗族或地域聯繫、閒話家常、飲食賣藝、欣賞戲劇等,彼此互有關連而又清晰可辨,是一種非常有趣而複雜的現象。如今中國傳統文化消失殆盡,香港大概是嶺南──甚至全中國──保存這些民間習俗最完整、最具活力的地方,更應好好珍惜,即使不能發揚光大,至少也要繼續保持其鮮亮活潑的生命力。

不過,純粹從欣賞戲劇角度來看的話,神功戲始終不是最理想的表演方式。戲棚的構造和建築材料,太容易受到天氣和地理等外在環境影響,加上戶外演出,器材、工具均比不上一般劇院的設備,往往令演出效果和演員發揮大打折扣。最容易令人分心走神的,則莫過於戲棚內外的喧囂忙亂。雖云是氣氛熱鬧,但那是另一種文化體驗,卻與看戲無關。說實話,在人聲鼎沸的戲棚,即使練就一心二用、定海神針等上乘功夫,誰可保證心無旁鶩?既然演的和看的都無法集中精神,戲又能好看到哪兒去?這是很現實的問題,與個人條件和經驗沒有太大關係。畢竟是血肉之軀,就算身經百戰,誰也不能擔保臨場不出亂子,充其量也不過是減少出錯機會,或者可以隨機應變、化險為夷而已。

更何況,演戲不是單打獨鬥,講究合作精神和默契。一旦失準,不只是一個人的事,很可能影響其他人的發揮。就是因為深知神功戲的現場變數太多,不知甚麼時候會出甚麼狀況,所以看的時候更覺緊張,如坐針氈,心中總是暗捏一把汗。更別提那些硬邦邦、靠背中空的摺椅,坐上半天之後總是腰酸背痛、兩股生疼。但是說也奇怪,這次居然腰不酸股不痛,只是雙膝長期屈曲、無法伸展,結果好像有點發熱腫脹,幾日下來還沒退卻。大概早前練跑練過了頭,膝蓋早有投訴,如今竟似傷上添累,真是氣人。

唸書時為了體驗地道文化,曾到不少地方看過神功戲,大澳、東涌、布袋澳、坑口、西貢、茶果嶺、錦田、三聖村、青衣等都去過,看些甚麼卻沒印象了。以前看神功戲總是不太專心,卻沒想過拍照原來有助集中精神,的確出乎意料。誠如網友所言,伸長了鏡頭、對準了舞臺,其實就像拿著超級望遠鏡看戲一般,一顰一笑自然格外分明。且不管照片水準如何,如今回想起來,拍照時全神貫注盯著照相機,希望捕捉舞臺上最漂亮、最動人的一刻,確實比往日看神功戲時平添了幾分專注。不過這玩意兒同樣只能在戲棚發揮(儘管我還是不敢造次,先向殿下請示,得她俯允才動手);若在禁衛森嚴的劇院裡,只好乖乖的正襟危坐了。

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

To Do Or Not to Do

Just received the professor's comments on my PhD application. At first glance it does not seem to tell much except that my MA degree is not good enough. Without any undergraduate training in history the faculty does not confide in my capabilities to conduct proper research.

Fair enough. But this is merely one of the points.

The second point, which I personally think is the key, is that "the research topic related to Song-Korean relations, which is a huge deficiency" of the professor, in his own words.

My research interest lies in the diplomatic relations between Song China (960-1279) and Goryeo Korea (918-1392). Apparently this is not a very common topic of historical research – not just in Hong Kong but also worldwide. A main reason could be, as I reckon, that few know the Korean language and thus don't bother. There are plenty of stuff to work on in the history of Song China. At the same time, Korean historians don't seem to be very active in the international arena. Few people out there know what they have done and have been doing. Some leading scholars have their books translated into English and Chinese, but those were done decades ago.

I know too well the topic is a bit unusual, but this is precisely why I want to do it. Rather than repeating what many others have been spending years and decades, I would like to focus on something else that have received considerably less attention. I want to create more value and add to the reservoir of knowledge instead of doing something of little value for personal gain but nothing. Scholarship to me is lofty dedication. Personal interest and enthusiasm aside, I really want to do something innovative and useful.

After reading the professor's comments my instructor did share some insightful feedback as well. Firstly, "They felt your approach would cause you problems, hence their dubious comment about you not having a background in history." Point taken, and I will have to re-work my research proposal anyway.

Secondly, and more importantly, "The subject area they cannot handle, and in other words it was not attractive enough as it is to the Prof and his research interests. This is normal: profs want students to be cheap research assistants to further expand their knowledge!"

Well, if the only history professor who specialises in Song China and takes postgraduate students in Hong Kong does not find any interest in my research, it seems there is little, if any, alternative. Either I change my research topic to secure a place in the game, or just do it on my own as an amateur.

So now the question is: To do or not to do? Which way?

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Time to Move On

I should have jotted down my thoughts about it last week, but the feelings were not strong enough to warrant any meaningful remarks.

Quite honestly, to my own surprise.

It is true that I have been awaiting the professor's feedback. But I have no idea when it would arrive, or whether or not it would anyway.

So I think it is better for me to write something before it is too late.

For two years in a row, I have missed the opportunity to pursue my second dream - reading for PhD in history.

More than a year ago I was too immersed in the coursework of the master's degree. Virtually I paid no attention to what happened around me, partly because I enjoyed the study very much. More importantly, I was so obsessed with the objective I have set for myself - attaining a flawless transcript that would increase the chance of advancing my second dream of life. But needles are not sharp at both ends, as the saying goes. God is as fair as He has ever been. No doubt my hard work is paid off, but I missed the application deadline having submitted all the coursework in early December. A sigh of relief was soon replaced by irresistible waves of indignation and disappointment. Yet I could blame no one but myself for the negligence. Those emotions were extremely hard to suppress, let alone get over.

Although I could hardly forgive myself, I have been looking forward to the next opening of applications. Over the past year I have been reworking the research proposal, meeting teachers and scholars for advice, and paying close attention to any news of admission to postgraduate studies. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my lecturers at the Chinese University, I filed my application well before the deadline at the end of January.

Time heals. Time also gnaws away. How true it is! By the time I was invited to an interview on 29 February, I almost forgot that I have applied for admission to a part-time PhD programme. Of course I was happy receiving the call, but I kept telling myself that it was little more than a small step towards the ultimate goal. Whether the result would be favourable remained uncertain. I think I did well at the interview, and I was hopeful to hear something positive.

Once again, however, good news did not arrive as hoped. My application number was not shown in the admission list. If I were to console myself, there was no candidate to the PhD programme, full-time or part-time. Only two MPhil students were admitted. Does it mean that the PhD candidates are not good enough? Or the panel members have something else in mind?

Apparently I was - still am - disappointed. But I don't feel as strongly as I did last year. Rather, I take the result with extraordinary ease, to an extent which surprises me upon reflection. For some reason it seems to me a strong hint from God that having tried my best to attest to my capabilities, I should take whatever the result is and move on. Over the past week or so, more often I feel like accomplishing something that has been longed for years although the results did not turn out as I have wanted. C'est la vie. The important thing is that I have no regrets. Somehow I feel relieved too for having done what needs to be done. There are so much more to learn and explore in the years to come. And I know for sure that I'm not going to abandon history as my favourite subject. Whatsoever. I'll keep reading in breadth and depth to prepare myself for the next opportunity, which may pop up any time.