Prof. Fredric MAO, BBS
Mao obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa, USA, and launched his acting/directing career with professional theatre companies in the States. At the young age of 27, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Napa Valley Theatre Company in California. He made his Broadway acting debut in the original Harold Prince/Stephen Sondheim musical Pacific Overtures. He undertook further studies with the renowned acting teacher Sanford Meisner in New York.
When the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) was established in 1985, Mao joined its School of Drama as Head of Acting, responsible for training up several generations of local talents. Mao took the reign of Artistic Director at the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre (HKRT) from 2001 to 2008. His many distinguished productions, including Sweet & Sour Hong Kong (musical), Love in a Fallen City, and Secret of Resurrection, received not only great applause from local audience but also with resounding success when it toured to Shanghai, Beijing, Toronto and New York. He was bestowed the honor of “Director Laureate” of HKRT upon his departure.
Mao has received numerous awards, including “Best Director” five times at the Hong Kong Drama Awards and “Artist of the Year” (Stage Director) from the Hong Kong Artists Guild. In 2004, the Government of the HKSAR conferred upon Mao the Bronze Bauhinia Star in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Hong Kong performing arts scene. He was awarded the Honorary Fellowship by HKAPA in 2005, and the Honorary University Fellowship by the Hong Kong Baptist University in 2007. He was awarded the Honorary Doctorate by HKAPA in 2014.
Over the years, Mao had given lectures at Stanford University in USA, University of Toronto in Canada, Beijing University as well as Beijing Central Academy of Drama in China. Founding the Performing Arts Asia in 2008, Mao had since completed a research project on the practice of mainstream theatre in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong government. Since 2010, a series of Mentoring Program have been carried out to nurture young artists for their advanced development.
Mao’s original work The Liaisons, fusing Cantonese Opera with modern drama, premiered at the 2010 Hong Kong Arts Festival and later presented at the Shanghai Expo and Beijing’s famous People’s Art Theatre with great success. It won the “Modern Xiqu” Grand Award at the Shanghai One Drama Awards in 2011. Mao had also taken part in the selection of Xiqu Centre’s architecture design at West Kowloon Cultural District. Being the curator of WKCD’s 2014 Bamboo Theatre Festival, Mao initiated a first-ever competition for the best young Cantonese opera performers in Hong Kong.
As Convener of HK-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Committee from 2011 till 2019, Mao was responsible in initiating a very successful presentation of “Hong Kong Week”, an arts and culture festival, every year in Taipei since 2012.
By the invitation of HKAPA, Mao had been the Founding Chair of its newly established School of Chinese Opera (2014-2016), and taken on the challenge of setting up the first-ever Degree program in Cantonese Opera. At the 2018 Hong Kong Arts Festival, a new Cantonese opera production Pavilion of a Hundred Flowers adapted and directed by Mao, was a huge success. It had attracted many non-Cantonese opera audience and led to HKAF’s decision to do a re-run, a first ever in their 47 years history. In 2019, Pavilion had also been presented in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and received overwhelming response.