Many Cantonese opera plots are based on stories about the joys and sorrows of love and married life. The wives in these tales are sometimes meek and loving, other times powerful and cunning. But what constitutes a “perfect wife” in a Cantonese opera play?

In this talk, Cheung Ping-kuen, Chairman of the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), looks at examples of female characters in some of the Xiqu Centre opening season performances and explores to what extent they can be viewed as perfect wives.

In The Legend of the White Snake, the wife Bai Suzhen wages a fierce battle to save her marriage and keep her husband Xu Xian – but her fierce passion cannot change the fact that she is a snake in human form. Despite being good and loyal, the wives in Forty Years of Cherished Love and Time to Go Home are both, for various reasons, rejected by their mothers-in-law. And in The Outburst of a Shrew, the wife’s passion for her husband turns to bitter anger when he takes a concubine.

While all of these women demonstrate love for their husbands, what characteristics would make them ideal wives for the male protagonists of the Cantonese opera stage?

4 January 2019 (Friday)

7:30pm – 9:00pm

Seminar Hall, 2/F, Xiqu Centre

Dr Cheung Ping-kuen


Free admission. Limited capacity on a first come, first served basis. Please register online in advance.


Ms Leung (852) 2200 0872,

Accessibility Services:
Cantonese audio description and Hong Kong sign language interpretation are available upon request with at least 14 days’ advance notice.

Adverse Weather Arrangements:
The talk will be cancelled if a black rainstorm warning or a typhoon signal no. 8 or above is in force at/after 3:00pm on the day of the event.

About Speaker:

Dr Cheung Ping-kuen
Cheung Ping-kuen

Dr Cheung Ping-kuen is the Chairman of the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong) and a part-time lecturer at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Before retiring, he held posts as HKAPA’s Head of Liberal Arts Studies (2003–2015) and Acting Chair of the School of Chinese Opera (2013–2014), and was Director of the Hong Kong Art School from 2015 to 2017. 

Between 1996 and 2007, Dr Cheung was a member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, where he chaired the Drama Committee and helped shape the landscape of the contemporary Hong Kong arts scene. 

Dr Cheung is an experienced theatre practitioner and theatre critic. As a committed drama educator, he was the founding chairman of Hong Kong Drama/Theatre and Education Forum (TEFO) and the co-director of the 6th World Congress of the International Drama and Theatre Education Association in 2007.


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