Hong Kong Heroes

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-04-08 09:23:42

Hong Kong Heroes

Field of Dreams is a story about faith and determination that is set in the 1930s. This weekend, the musical is being presented in Beijing for the first time. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A play's revival brings to Beijing the little-known story of seven soccer players who were determined to get to the 1936 Olympic Games.

In 2008, Hong Kong playwright Anthony Chan had just taken the position of artistic director of Hong Kong Repertory Theater. That year, he met Vincent Heywood, a Chinese culture researcher from the UK, who told him a story.

It was about China's first team appearance at the Olympic Games. Lee Wai-tong, a football player from Hong Kong, led seven other soccer players from a small fishing village in Tai Hang, Hong Kong, to compete for China at the Summer Olympic Games in 1936, which were held in Berlin. To raise money for traveling, they started with touring in Asia and competed in 27 games without a single loss. They made history and impressed the world.

"I was surprised to hear the story. As a Hong Konger, I didn't know it," says Chan. "The year of 2008 was also when the Olympic Games were held in Beijing. So I wanted to write a musical about sports, telling this little-known story to today's audiences."

Chan has directed 69 productions and designed sets for 13 shows in his decades-long career. He chose the form of a musical production to tell the story, because soccer as a musical theme is rarely seen and he wanted to give audiences a fresh experience.

He invited veteran Hong Kong composer Leon Ko and lyricist Chris Shum to write the music.

Titled Field of Dreams, the musical premiered in Hong Kong in 2008 and received four Hong Kong Drama Awards the same year: best overall performance, best original music, best actor and top 10 most popular productions.

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