Friday, 28 February 2014

杭州賞梅記(二)

遊罷孤山,過西泠橋,左轉沿北山街(原稱北山路)西行,入玉泉路,轉玉古路,約二十分鐘就來到杭州植物園北門。

這裡便是「靈峰探梅」所在。

所謂「靈峰」,即靈峰寺,據說始建於五代後晉末年,明代萬曆時毀棄;至清嘉慶年間重建,遍植梅花,遂成賞梅勝地。民國後寺崩梅亡,卻淪為野草叢生、荒塚纍纍的幽谷。直至1956年當局闢建植物園,1988年起廣植梅樹,才逐漸回復「靈峰探梅」的勝景。

冒著綿密的細雨閒步園中,只見四野無人、清泠幽靜,心中又是一陣歡喜。緩緩走下山谷,赫見右邊一片擁山環翠的湖水,湖畔屹立兩樹梅花,紅白相映,煞是好看。

色彩繽紛的鳥兒在白梅樹上東張西望,彷彿要窺探這兩個不速之客--或者,這其實是歡迎我們冒雨來訪嗎?

植物園位於靈隱山麓,靠近「西湖十景」之一的「雙峰插雲」,即北高峰和南高峰,但遍植梅花的一帶叫做「青芝塢」,地勢不高,石板鋪成的山路乾淨整齊,走來一點也不費力。

在蜿蜒的山路一步高一步低的慢慢走著,有一句沒一句的低聲閒聊,隨意舉起相機構圖取景,學著畫家寫生一般,用鏡頭留住一剎那的美麗,使瞬間倏成永恆,浮躁的心情也逐漸寧定下來。

綿密、冰冷的雨絲,一直下個不停,即使打著傘,還是濕透了穿在羽絨服外面的風衣,連相機也不能倖免。於是一路上猶如照顧小孩一般,拍完照就把雨點拭擦乾淨,再放在外衣裡貼身藏著,回來後馬上拿去檢查和清潔,總算沒有造成故障。若在家門出遊,未必有此耐心;但身處外地,心情放鬆、步伐減慢,卻絲毫不以為煩。

有道是「境隨心轉」,就是說心情迥然有別,面對同樣的景致時,自然產生不同的感受。眼前的好與壞,其實是心中悲喜的投射。如今在「靈峰探梅」,卻再次領略到「心隨境轉」的恬靜和適意--只要放寬心懷,細意欣賞和體會眼前的優美,再黯淡的心情也會明亮起來。

可惜這麼顯淺的道理,卻沒有太多人明白--例如那些仍堅信「有奶便是娘」、「發展是硬道理」的傢伙。人類與一般動物的分別,在於食、色之外,還有一點性靈、精神的追求。「衣食足,知榮辱」確是至理之言,但除了衣、食,人生還有很多值得珍惜和追求的東西。即使在數十年前民生艱困、朝不保夕的年代,我們的父祖輩何曾放棄過這樣基本的追求?為甚麼來到這個不愁衣食的「太平盛世」,我們卻成了蠢驢笨牛?

但願將來老了,仍可以在家門口的青山綠水之間,享受「心隨境轉」的愉快,不用千里迢迢的跑到杭州去。

Thursday, 27 February 2014

杭州賞梅記(一)

醞釀已久的杭州賞梅之旅,終於成行了。

儘管如此,所謂「天有不測之風雲」,梅花是否盛開、天氣是否適合郊遊,實難說準。為免失望,一直沒敢期望太高。至於出發前一些沒頭沒腦的不愉快,雖未至於減了遊興,仍難免像京城的天氣一般,重雲厚霾,瀰漫心上,驅之不去。

猶幸這次和福星高照的小妹同行,沾了她的光,也感謝上天眷顧,在短短幾天之間,讓我們經歷了杭州的陰晴雨雪,而且是近年少見的大雪,親眼見識到「寒梅傲雪」的美景,可謂不虛此行。

杭州不少地方都種有梅樹,但賞梅的名勝則不算多。住在西湖邊上,最方便的賞梅地點自然是徒步可達的孤山。當年林和靖就在這裡隱居,以梅為妻、以鶴為子,寫下「疏影橫斜水清淺,暗香浮動月黃昏」的名句。所以一下機,到酒店安頓好行李,便冒雨過斷橋、經白堤,往孤山走去。

可惜孤山的梅花一株也沒開,只有一種不識其名、花瓣粉紅的花兒盛放著。不知是雨勢太大還是已經開到荼蘼,眼見落紅成陣、青翠欲滴,頗有「綠肥紅瘦」的韻味。

在孤山沒見著梅花,難免有一絲失望。沒料到拐個彎兒,在西泠印社短牆外瞥見一大棵盛放的梅樹,點點紅梅鮮妍明媚,就像一柄紅色巨傘凌空聳立,在灰濛濛的天色下分外矚目。不禁大喜,急忙進去,用鏡頭盡情捕捉在杭州碰見第一株綻放的梅樹的千嬌百媚。其實此情此景,即使拿著手機亂拍一通,也盡是一幅幅清麗優雅的工筆梅花圖。

但願人生也是這樣,在灰心、失望的時候,總有一點及時的安慰。

然而,世事哪有這般完美?心如墜鉛、欲哭無淚之時,往往還得自我安慰一番,才能抖擻精神鎮痛療傷。

別問我為甚麼對梅花如此迷戀,所謂「情不知所起,一往而深」,連自己也說不清楚。喜歡就喜歡了,直接乾脆,沒半點含糊。一切緣由,大概只是為了向人家解釋而設的,自己心裡倒是踏實得很,根本不需要甚麼原因。

多年前看完話劇《琥珀》,記得結局時男主角牽著女主角的手,說了最後一句話:「因為你,我害怕死亡。」相比說一萬遍「我愛你」的矯情、「天地合,乃敢與君絕」的淒厲,這一句更顯得謙厚、踏實、坦誠。為了和喜歡的人在一起,所以害怕死亡。這不是貪生怕死,其實是指為了所愛的人、珍重的事物,應該更善待自己的生命。

所以,為了繼續有機會尋芳賞艷,為了繼續守護我所喜歡的人和事,我必須好好的活著。

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

We Need Cure for the Heart

A couple of years ago I have already lamented about the city where I was born and bred. I feel more detached from it than ever, or it has simply changed so fast and thoroughly that I find it harder and harder to catch up with, let alone making some sense of it. I try to stay away from the populism and keep a cool head among the peers, despite the risk of being misunderstood or misperceived. But things only get worse over time. And there is little sign of awareness or recognition that we are being dragged into a dangerous direction.

What happened this morning proves that the situation has deteriorated more rapidly than I can possibly imagine. That Mr Kevin Lau Chun-to, former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao Daily News was stabbed with six serious wounds on a busy street in Sai Wan Ho was shocking, outrageous and horrendous. No one in this city who truly believes in justice, morality and the rule of law would find it acceptable. It has nothing to do with freedom of the press or speech. It is a shameless challenge to the rule of law and human conscience. It is hardly surprising that the shocking news has hit the headlines globally.

Again I refrain from speculating the causes of such a gruesome act. What is the point of doing so when a man is struggling to survive? First things should come first. Let's pray for Mr Lau's speedy recovery. Let’s pray for justice to be done with the earliest possible solution of the violent crime. Let's express our strongest condemnation of violence and violation of human rights. Whatever the causes may be, it is by no means justifiable to teach someone you hate a lesson with such bloodshed and violence. When vicious verbal attacks and bullying are way too much for reasonable tolerance, how can we tolerate violence for any fellow human being?

Indeed, freedom of speech in Hong Kong is under unprecedented threat. But it does not necessarily come from some perceived gigantic authorities hidden somewhere, but more so among the ordinary people hanging around. The online community and the news media that closely monitor the latest fads online have virtually become another centre of power for arbitrary justice. Aren’t we familiar with cases in which someone becomes a victim of verbal abuse, online bullying with their identity put under public scrutiny simply because he/she has spoken something stupid or outrageous? His/her remarks may be unpleasant, irresponsible or nonsense, but who are we to give a verdict and punishment for what someone says? When so many of us are defending our right to speak up and freedom from fear, why are we denying the right and freedom of those with whom we disagree? Why should I bother to speak my mind anymore when I know too well my disagreement with the prevalent views will not be tolerated, let alone respected, but invites ruthless attacks from the anonymous who claim upholding justice? Whose justice is that?

What we urgently need, therefore, is not only a solution to work out how we should get along with our new master, but, more importantly, a prescription to cure our contaminated heart and mind.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

嚴正聲明

承蒙朋友告知,近日在某些網上討論區,有人誤將我與一名陳寶珠影迷ConnieShirley混為一談,並說我是他的分身。雙方針鋒相對,言辭令人側目。

謹此嚴正聲明,本人與ConnieShirley絕不認識,更非同一人。他是男是女、是老是幼,我毫不知情,也沒興趣深究。他的言行,一概與本人無關。在此blog「梅林邀月」所發表的拙文,只代表本人的看法。文責自負,亦與他人無涉。

我以「秋盈」作筆名及網名已逾十年,並無使用其他名字,認識我的同學、朋友、網友均可作證。

懇請各位看官明鑑,謝謝。

秋盈謹啟

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Hiking for New Year

Since my father's passing I have been spared of the ritual of visiting relatives during the Lunar New Year holidays. To be honest, there is little to do, especially when in good times more shops and restaurants are closed. This year even the gym was closed for the first three days.

Usually I don't travel during the New Year holidays, because I hate paying an outrageous extra to set my feet on foreign soil squeezing through Cantonese-, and now Mandarin-speaking tourists. I used to go to the karaoke and sing for a couple of hours on the third day of the New Year, but again it isn't much fun unless I have something to vent.

Over the past few years I have picked up something new – going for a walk or a short hike around Hong Kong but avoiding the crowds at shopping malls or the New Year Fair. Even in the middle of the city, there is always a haven where I can take a few deep breaths of fresh and cool air.

Thanks to the lovely weather this year, I took up a slightly tougher challenge by going for three hikes in four days. In addition to the first one through the Tai Tam Reservoirs on New Year's day, I went up Dragon's Back on my own on the third day of the New Year, and a short walk with two friends to Po Toi O and Fat Tong Mun near Clearwater Bay on the fourth.

I have always wanted to experience Dragon's Back, which was voted the Best Hiking Trail in Asia by Time magazine, but never had a chance because my hiking pals have been there for too many times and didn't bother to take me there. As I was having a dinner gathering at my buddy's place, I decided to take an early walk on Dragon's Back on my own after some desktop research. At the crossroad near the pavilion half way through I took the "wrong" route, a ragged, rocky path cutting across the mid-level slopes, but managed to return to the "right" track by turning right at a junction on Wan Cham Shan. I was grateful for my intuition with God's guidance because I managed to avoid the crowds along the way until I was leaving downhill in the opposite direction. The six-kilometre hike was pretty easy, but not easy enough for those who are unprepared. It took less than two hours, including a number of short breaks for photo-shooting and a few sips of water. It was a bit tiring under the beaming sun, but the effort was well paid off by the breath-taking scenery of Shek O, Tai Tam and Stanley. Even Ling Kok Shan to the east of Lamma Island was visible despite the light smog.

The short walk to Po Toi O and Fat Tong Mun was equally, if more, enjoyable. A 20-minute minibus ride from Po Lam, Tseung Kwan O, took us to a small, primitive fishing village that conjures up historical images of early Hong Kong. The sapphire waters and the green mountains sparkling under the clear sky were by all means mesmerising and refreshing. Just by looking up and down the beautiful landscape was more than enough to set one's mind at ease. Everything that bothers us in daily life shrinks to worthless trivialities all of a sudden. What was even more rewarding was a mouth-watering seafood lunch at the end of the walk.

We also visited a stone inscription dated back to the final years of the Southern Song (1127-1279), which I had longed for many years, on our way to Hong Kong’s oldest temple in worship of Tin Hau, or Goddess of Heaven, at Fat Tong Mun, the famous marine channel to the east of Hong Kong that made its name as a customs checkpoint as early as the Southern Song. Unfortunately the plastic shield protecting the inscription has turned terribly yellow and the original inscription is no longer visible. Visitors who want to read the inscription will have to depend on a transcript on a steel plaque installed by the Antiquities and Monuments Office a few metres away. All I could do was to sneak my camera between the shield and the rock to take a creepy snapshot. No visitor we met showed any interest in the inscription, but it was one of the few genuine artefacts of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in Hong Kong. This is why I was so excited to see it personally and yet so disappointed at the poor condition of the plastic shield that prevented me from appreciating the inscription in detail.

Perhaps it has something to tell about the disinterest and low historical awareness in Hong Kong, especially when it is about a remote past centuries before British colonialism and the turmoil of modern China that is seen as having no relevance to us in the twenty-first century?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

《斬二王》

感謝西九文化管理局的邀請,農曆新年前在西九大戲棚看了傳統排場粵劇《斬二王》

其實二十年前已看過「粵劇之家」搬演此劇,當時稱作《醉斬二王》。不過當年開始看戲沒多久,加上少不更事,除故事外,啥也看不懂,更看不出甚麼好處來。所以如今只記得劇名,表演內容早已忘得一乾二淨了。難得今年有機會重看,自然要抖擻十二分精神。

據介紹,《斬二王》原為清代「江湖十八本」之一,以官話【註】演唱,情節簡單,人物鮮明,連時代背景也沒有,就像寓言或童話一般,但卻沒有甚麼道德說教的意味,反覺觀照人情世態甚為深刻。話說很久以前,勇士張忠(羅家英飾)投軍報國,奉命剿除綠林豪傑鄺瑞龍(龍貫天飾)。兩人對陣後惺惺相惜,結為兄弟,同向朝廷覆命。太子司馬揚(新劍郎飾)深敬兩人勇毅,再結交為異姓兄弟。三人中以司馬揚居長,鄺瑞龍次之,張忠最幼。司馬揚即位後沉溺酒色,鄺瑞龍犯顏直諫,混亂間手持先王御賜的黃金鐧誤傷司馬揚,被他醉中怒判斬首。鄺瑞龍遺孀張氏(王超群飾)與張忠聞訊,悲憤不已,興師問罪,兵臨城下。司馬揚深悔其禍,誅殺西宮娘娘(陳嘉鳴飾)與國舅(梁煒康飾),並承諾痛改前非,他日傳位予鄺瑞龍之子,以息眾怒。曾見網上有人說司馬揚能與鄺瑞龍、張忠可以同患難,不能共富貴,令他想起電影《投名狀》云云,雖然兩劇難以直接比較,見解亦算精闢。事實上,結局時司馬揚屢問自己酒醉時誰人在場、為甚麼不諫止他誤斬義弟,接著逐一藉故誅殺國舅和西宮娘娘,又把佯不知情、明哲保身的軍師(溫玉瑜飾)驅擯,盡見在上位者諉過於人、不肯反省的軟弱、自私與殘暴,令人頗有感觸。

論劇情,此劇尚算流暢、紮實,雖不免犯駁或堆砌之處,猶幸不算太嚴重。例如結局前張忠為嫂嫂向義兄傳話那一大段唸白略嫌重複,演來稍覺累贅,文字上或可再精簡些,以保持緊湊的氣氛。至於較嚴重的破綻,則在鄺瑞龍之妻張氏身上。故事開始時,鄺氏夫婦因遭陷害而失散,鄺瑞龍落草為寇,張氏則走投無路,欲自縊,幸為張忠所救,結為兄妹。觀眾不免以為張氏是三步不出閨門的弱質女流。後來鄺瑞龍與張忠結拜,隨他回家,驚見妻子在堂,以為她失節改嫁,與義弟遽起紛爭,張氏欲勸不果,只落得被兩個大男人推來擋去、跪地搖水髮呼冤的份兒,仍是一副無能為力、百辭莫辯的尷尬模樣。誰料她得悉夫婿被斬後興兵伐罪,弓馬嫻熟、英姿煥發,儼然穆桂英之儔,著實令人吃了一驚--如果她早練就一身本事,當日何必自尋短見?勸架的時候為甚麼不露一手?看將下去,我當然明白這是為了讓旦角有更多表演上乘功架的機會,但以戲論戲,似乎不應為了表演效果,而犧牲了故事和人物須合情合理的基本原則。看來張氏這個人物和故事支線,還可以再琢磨一下。

不過,《斬二王》始終是注重演技的傳統劇目,為了製造機會表演功架而堆砌情節,尚可理解。喜見眾位老倌悉力以赴,連唱帶做四小時,戲味盎然,無甚冷場;配合鏗鏘有力、澎湃激昂的鑼鼓,看得人血脈賁張,確是一場難得的好戲,盡顯傳統粵劇豪邁粗獷的風格,以及唱、做繁重,表演元素豐富多采的特色。

戲曲表演的基本技巧是唱、唸、做、打,「做」和「打」均是動作,但動作的幅度、方向、應用方法等均有一定的方圓規矩,猶如拳腳功夫的一招一式,所以稱作「程式」。把多項表演程式按照某種規則組合起來,以表達戲裡人物的某種心情或處境,則稱為「排場」,就像拳法的套路。以我有限的見識,《斬二王》好像每一折均至少有一套排場。雖然我不知道那些叫甚麼名堂,但從動作左右對稱,或兩人輪流做同一套動作看來,加上節奏獨特的鑼鼓,隱約可感受到那是一套特定的表演程序,不是隨意組合的零散招式。例如前文提到鄺瑞龍誤會妻子張氏失貞,與張忠大打出手,兩人分開之後做了幾個動作,先後跟張氏對望幾次,再輪流單腿站立,不停作原地三百六十度轉身。張氏則雙膝跪地,一邊繞著丈夫和義兄圈轉,一邊搖著水髮,明顯是為了表達兩個男人焦躁難決,張氏無計可施、不知所措的心境。又如鄺瑞龍被斬後,相信為了讓張氏有足夠時間換上戎裝,安排了一段乳娘(鄭詠梅飾)替張氏備馬的功架表演--從馬廐拉出馬匹開始,依次裝上馬鞍、障泥、馬鐙、轡銜、韁繩、搖鈴等,逐一繫穩裝備,檢查一遍後,再刷鬃毛、安撫馬兒,拉牠到指定地點等候張氏,自己則持鞭侍立。整套動作長約十多分鐘,完全沒有曲子,也沒有唸白,只得音樂伴奏。臺上既沒馬匹,也沒有馬鞍、轡頭等裝備,只得乳娘備馬完畢後拿著的一條馬鞭,但所有凌空虛擬的動作均讓人看得明白如畫,舉手投足之間也不失美感和勁力,盡顯戲曲表演寫意傳神的精髓。

然而,戲曲表演的最高境界,不在於把程式和排場做得多麼精準、完美,而在於能否從連串動作中,讓觀眾感受到劇中人物的處境和心情,與他們同甘共苦、憂戚相關。倘若脫離了劇情和人物,動作難度再高、形態做得再優美,也不過是一段雜耍而已。《斬二王》各位老倌盡心盡力的演出,七情上面、震撼人心,表演程式和排場雖然繁複,卻絲毫沒有賣弄功夫、為演而演的生硬粗澀,反覺是人物在其時其地真情流露,給後學、給觀眾充分展現了傳統戲曲的精義和魅力,實在非常難得。

因為是注重表演功架的傳統排場戲,《斬二王》在製作上非常簡樸,擺設以一桌兩椅為主,連張氏駐紮的軍營和司馬揚登高觀戰的城樓,也是由兩組一桌兩椅疊成的,只有在金鑾殿才加上了設計較精致的龍椅、龍案。陳設儘管簡單,但看去一點也不鄙陋,更令觀眾把注意力集中於表演細節上。這與早前看精雕細琢、美不勝收的《再世紅梅記》是極大的對比──一個傳統,一個現代;一個粗獷,一個典雅,代表著香港粵劇不同的面貌。我無意評定孰優孰劣,只盼兩者可以並存,互相借鏡,延續這門傳統藝術的生命力。

在日常生活中,總免不了各種各樣的妥協與調和;在藝術上,我還是支持百花齊放、百家爭鳴,反對不加思索的模仿與抄襲,把藝術園地應有的奼紫嫣紅,逐漸變成一抹暮氣沉沉的蚊血。如今見識過傳統粵劇樸實無華的真正魅力,更確信這是粵劇的根源與心魂所在,應該善加珍惜和發揚。有人曾建議戲曲應該「精致化」,以適應現代社會和觀眾的要求,敢問何謂「精致」?如果說的是技藝更精準細膩、曲詞更精煉、劇本內容更契合人性、人情,使觀眾更容易產生共鳴,或如羅懷臻教授說的「承載時代精神」,我自然是贊成的。但若說「精致」是指製作上金碧輝煌,務以華服美景作招徠,則恕我不敢苟同。當年石崇與王愷競富,尚且難以為繼;如今已成小眾娛樂的粵劇,若在製作上不計成本爭妍鬥麗,又可以維持多久?何況所謂「看戲」,戲文和表演技巧應為主菜,其餘技術細節俱屬次要。倘若看戲只留心誰漂亮、誰帥氣,服飾和布景是否瑰麗,或者不問劇情和人物,只知演員「生鬼」詼諧便叫好,對舞臺上下、對戲曲本身,也不是甚麼好事。

如何讓傳統適應現代、讓現代包容傳統,自清末民初以來,一直是戲曲界念茲在茲的命題,但我深信這不只是臺前幕後要關心和努力的事,臺下的觀眾也有一份開放胸襟、嚴加鞭策的責任。一臺好戲,總要有個臺上臺下才成事;倘若臺下不懂欣賞,臺上再努力也是徒然。尤其是香港這個市場主導的社會,觀眾買不買票,就是一股無可抵擋的賞善罰惡力量,直接反映觀眾的藝術品味和鑑賞能力,也足以左右臺上的表演方式和藝術取向。觀眾能否善用手上這枚「賞善罰惡令」,與臺上一起力求進步,我且拭目以待--但至少,這是我對自己身為普通觀眾的期許。

承蒙西九文化區管理局提供《斬二王》劇照,謹此鳴謝。謝幕及西九大戲棚的照片則由作者自行拍攝。

【註】當時各省籍臣民溝通的共同語言,猶如今天的普通話,但語音自然大有分別。

附錄:《斬二王》演出劇照

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A Great Start of the Year

First of all, let me wish everyone of you a wonderful Year of the Horse with tonnes of happiness, health and harmony with your loved ones.

Thanks to my lovely bosom buddy, I celebrated my birthday, which coincides with the Lunar New Year every 19 years, with a refreshing walk through the Hong Kong Trail on a fine, delightful morning. In about three hours we arrived from Sai Wan Ho at Tai Tam Reservoirs with spectacular views of the clear sky, green woods and blue waters along the way.

Nothing treats the mind and soul better than a feast of the heartening colours of the nature.

What a happy surprise it was to share a sweet birthday cake at the end of the walk. I can't remember when it was the last time I had a lit cake. And this time it also came with a nice, warm gift.

Early in the evening we had a light dinner at a Japanese restaurant, which made its name for the grilled eggs (tamagoyaki). She ordered a umeshu and I a draught Kirin that came with a frozen, slush-like topping. An interesting innovation indeed, although it didn't really taste anything.

Then we walked back to her home, where we talked and laughed for another couple of hours over a bottle of red wine.

Words can't really tell how much I enjoyed every moment of the company. All I can say is that it was truly a great start of the year. Thank you my dear!