Living in Hollowness, or Living to Satisfaction?

Photo: Benny Luey

Laughter and joy versus death and grief. The conflicting emotions of laughter and dying intrigue a series of dialogues about life and death ––– should man seek for life, or death? Are there too many people on Earth? Is living to 120 years old worth celebrating? Is a lighthearted death a synonym for death by suicide? Over the past 17 years from the Death to The Big Happy Dying, the Artistic Director and playwright Yatyau and Director Freddy Wong of the Class 7A Drama Group have endeavored to explore topics on life and death with a sense of humor, offering modern man the opportunity to leave their phones behind for a moment for reflection on the meaning of “satisfaction in living”!

The haste and hurry, as well as the mainstream values often leave our souls to be exposed to numbness. Drama, thus, is an awakening spot to remind ourselves to stay away from being numbed.”

“When will man find their living satisfactory?” This question has mulled around Yatyau’s mind for a thousand times and become the tipping point that triggered the creation of the Death and The Big Happy Dying. “In The Avengers, it has presented a hypothesis of wiping out half of all lives of the universe for the quality of life of the remaining half. This question is worth pondering indeed. Leveraging on medical technology, we keep extending human lifespan. When centenarians become common, how many social problems will be hidden away behind that? Is the development of going against the laws of nature by human force inevitable?”

From seeking for life to for death

Artistic Director / Playwright / Song & Lyrics Composer: Yatyau

Hence, Yatyau produced Death in 2002 ––– a survival story about a death row inmate begged the prison guard for help. Receiving good reviews, the drama was invited to stage in Busan, South Korea and Shanghai. 5 years later, Yatyau created The Big Happy Dying. His explorations took him from seeking for life to for death. Deriving from an accidental misuse of drugs by the grandpa to a realization of hosting a “big happy dying”, the drama presented a “debate” about life and death between the old man and the grandson. “It is far more difficult to write a story of suicide than survival. Dissatisfying with the version I produced in 2007, I rewrote the script three years ago. With the recent support of the Jockey Club New Arts Power, I once again brought the touring drama to the public stage and schools.”

Through the in-roling and de-roling of the musician and actor, “The Big Happy Dying “ led the audience to thread their ways between the drama and reality, moving towards a reflection about life and death. (Photo: Benny Luey)

A story of “suicide” though, Yatyau emphasized that grandpa looked for a “lighthearted death” but not a “death by suicide”. “In the process of writing, I have once worried about whether the audience will misinterpret that the drama advocates suicide. The feedback of the majority of the audience, however, has been very positive, since the story has attached with a strong message of respect for life. Grandpa lived a positive and optimistic life. Even though he chose not to save himself from the accident, he did not fritter his time away. On the contrary, the grandson has been well educated though; he abandoned himself and became a ‘loser’ draining his days away playing games. Which one do you think deserves a death?”

Retrieving the sense of “satisfaction in living”

Director Frankie

A cultured man should know what is proper. If you’re feeling lost about life, I hope this drama will give you some inspiration.

Through the in-roling and de-roling of the musician and actor, Director Frankie led the audience to thread their ways between the drama and reality, moving towards a reflection about life and death. “The orchid has taken on a symbolic meaning in the drama. Even though we have no idea of when the weather will change or the blossoms will peak and over, grandpa still treats the orchid every day with great care. So do our life. We don’t know how we’ll end up, but we can still live to the fullness.”

Even though we have no idea of when the weather will change or the blossoms will peak and over, grandpa still treats the orchid every day with great care. So do our life. – Director Frankie (Photo: Benny Luey)

Yatyau added that, modern man lack a sense of “satisfaction in living”. “Excessive enjoyment may only leave us with hollowness and boredom. Yet, how long a life should be to feel satisfied — we don’t seem to have the answer. A cultured man should know what is proper. If you’re feeling lost about life, I hope this drama will give you some inspiration.”

The Big Happy Dying tends to inspire not only the adults, but also the high school students. The Drama Group hopes that the upcoming touring to schools could sow the seeds of reflection to life in students’ minds. “For the children living in the internet age, even the mental space to think in tranquil has been encroached. Drama is here to allow them to let go of their phones and expand their horizon of thinking. Maybe they will answer with some silly things; we should let them to catch a glimpse of the life and death topic, and understand that the world is not as simple as it seems.”

PROGRAMME INFO
The Big Happy Dying
Class 7A Drama Group
Don’t Cry Because it’s Over, Smile Because it is a Happy Dying.
An old man misuses drugs and has to be sent to the hospital. Yet, when he finds out it is painless on the journey to death, he realises this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. The Big Happy Dying was first created in 2007 to explore life and death in a lively and hilarious, entertaining and reflective way. The play was later transformed by the group’s artistic director, Yatyau, questioning what makes a “good death” and what are the most important things to live life to the fullest.
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