Duras Project - Moderato Cantabile / C'est Tout

2014-12-12 20:00 - 2014-12-14 21:30

Duras Project - Moderato Cantabile / C'est Tout

When: 12-14 Dec 2014 Fri-Sun 20:00, 13-14 Dec Sat-Sun 15:00
Where: On and On Theatre, Cattle Depot

Duras Project Poster


The performance is given in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), the French writer with international influence. Her works have been translated into more than thirty languages, the best known being her autobiographic novel, L'amante (1984), which covers the first half of her life in Vietnam. The original French edition sold over one million copies, and has been made into a movie that rocked the world. Apart from her legendary life, she is best known for using the avant-garde writing style in her explorations of life and death, love and sex, and historical issues. Her notable feats in this regard are her screenplay for the epoch-making film, Hiroshima mon amour (1959), and her novel, Moderato Cantabile (1958).

Duras holds an important place in cultural circles favouring Modernism in Hong Kong after the 1980s. She kept up with creative momentum throughout her life, crossing over disciplines and media. She had published over forty novels and more than ten scripts, and took an active part in film and theatre. In honour of her centennial, artists in Hong Kong - seasoned or young, and from different sectors - decide to come together in a tribute through installation theatre. We hope to bring to the Hong Kong audience a commemorative event of a different kind.

In conceiving this project, we want to not only highlight Duras' perceptions about life, her cultural sensibility and her times, but also bring out how cultural and arts practitioners like us in Hong Kong connect to her. Inspired by her magnum opus, Moderato Cantabile (1958), and the posthumous C'est Tout (1995), the performances will be held at a site rich in Hong Kong history: the Cattle Depot Theatre in To Kwa Wan (for experimental theatre staging), on two of Duras's favourite themes: love and death.


Producer / Director: Lo Wai-luk
Curator / Concept / Sound Designer: Mark Chan
Choreographer / Performer: Abby Chan
Narrator: Virginia Cheng
Performers: Poon Fong-fong, Leung Wing-chung
Dancers: Lim Wei-wei, Benny Fung
Live Music: Nancy Loo, Stephen Chau, Mark Chan
Theatre Installation Designer: Corrin Chan
Lighting Designer: Gabriel Fung
Costume Designer: Cheng Man Wing


Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras was born in 1914 in Saigon, Vietnam. Her French parents went to colonial Vietnam in response to the call of the French government. But later, her father had to return to France due to serious illness and then passed away, leaving her mother, her two elder brothers and young Marguerite in Vietnam.

Her childhood and girlhood in Vietnam were to be her source of inspiration later in life. Her family lived on her mother's meagre wages as a teacher, but with a disastrous misstep in investment, things took an even worse turn. The incident was recounted in her first writing success, Un barrage contre le Pacifique (1950). In Vietnam, the girl Duras had a steamy affair with a rich Chinese merchant, which was often mentioned in her later works and fully disclosed in L'amante (1984) in her twilight years.

At 17, Duras went to France, where she began studying for a degree in mathematics. But she soon abandoned it to concentrate on political sciences and law. After graduation, she worked as secretary for the French government office representing the colony of Indochina from 1935 to 1941. After that, she joined the French Communist Party and took part in the French Resistance. But her free-spirited nature led to her expulsion from the party in 1955.

Duras's early novels were fairly conventional in form while she intentionally broke away from the traditional ways of narration and presented a different understanding of psychoanalysis in her later works, a step reforming fictioneering. She was often acclaimed as a representative of Nouveau Roman, a label that she spurned. In 1984, her novel L'amante won Le Prix Goncourt, a prize rivalling the Nobel Prize in France.

Throughout her life, Duras had authored more than 40 novels and more than 10 scripts, and also directed several movies herself, including India Song and Les enfants.

The life of Duras can be read as a life of writing. As she put it, “People only write when they are in desperation”. Maybe she is a pessimist on the whole, for her stories are full of intense heat, storms, alcohol, restlessness, dialogues, silence, whirlwind romance, etc. For her, “telling stories” seems to have a special charm. It is both essential and challenging, and can even be cruel. Impossible romances and pursuit of love had always been the themes of her works.

Duras passed away on 3 March 1996 at the age of 81, and was buried in Montparnasse Cemetery. There are only two letters - M.D. - on her tombstone. But she will be remembered wherever there are words.


Programme Enquiries: 22687323
Ticketing Enquiries: 37616661
Credit Card Telephone Booking: 21115999
Internet Booking: urbtix


Tickets: $220 Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients
Tel: 852-25031630
Add: Unit 7, Cattle Depot Artist Village, Ma Tau Kok Road, Kln, Hong Kong


*Information provided by The Duras Project

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