Unforeseen responsibilities

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), Work

I'm tired, very tired.

I've suddenly found myself with much more responsibility than I'd foreseen.

A few weeks ago, we realised that tickets were not selling as well as we'd like. Our marketing was not working. In some areas, it was simply non-existent. At least one good friend of mine didn't know about the play until I called them.

We had done a few interviews with newspapers and magazines but the affect on ticket sales was not ideal. We had to do more, and I decided to fund the design and publishing of our ads, the ones I showed you in my previous article. Those ads worked but we're still not doing well enough to sit back and relax.

Part of the challenge we face is that the play is in English. There have been many inquiries about tickets but as soon as many of those inquirers realise that the play is in English, they hang up. We have Chinese subtitles but people are still scared of English. Even three of my wife's relatives declined our complementary invitation to see the show because it's in English.

Another part of the challenge is the Arts Festival. It's taken and flooded all of the marketing opportunities. I personally called SCMP this morning to ask about doing an interview and the person there was very frank with me. Somewhat apologetically, he explained that even if they were able to arrange an interview, it wouldn't get published because all of the available space had already been allocated to the Arts Festival.

So getting the word out about our play has been and continues to be difficult.

One important truth about this play is that it would definitely be desirable to have more than a few English-comfortable people in the audience, people who will understand without delay the funny punch lines in the play, people who will laugh intermittently and consequently add to the atmosphere of the play. So it is that I have spent most of my brain power over the last 24 hours trying to arrange more exposure in the English world of Hong Kong.

We did a live interview on RTHK 3's "Morning Brew" program this morning. I think the interview was great. Natalie, the radio host, had done her homework and she was excellent with the questions and the comments. Henry and Sompor were also very good in front of the mike and it was a comfortable interview overall. Hopefully, it will help to spread the word out to the English population of Hong Kong.

A short telephone interview that I did with SCMP will be published in Sunday's issue. Again, I hope it will get noticed and help build the noise about our play.

One of our ads will appear in this Friday's issue of HK Magazine, a magazine read by many of Hong Kong's English-comfortable people.

But I still can't rest, so I went back to TVB today. 20 years of working with TVB has given me a little respect at TVB and I needed it today. The producer of 娛樂直播 had one empty interview slot in next Tuesday's program and immediately decided to put me in there. That was nice ;-)   東張西望 is also considering filming our final rehearsal and interviewing us on Friday.

On the English side, I'm still hoping for more exposure. I'm now working closely with our marketing person. We'll try to contact a few more English radio and television people to arrange interviews. Until the show ends, I must not give up hope.

Many weeks ago, a good friend upon learning of my part in the play commented that it was a very serious situation for me. If the play fails, it will reflect directly on me; not on the director, not on Sompor, just on me!

I have taken on a lot of various responsibilities for the sake of the play and I've taken them on with every ounce of energy I have. I've done much more than would normally be required of an actor. I have never put so much effort, time and heart into anything in my entire life. I can only hope and trust that it will not be in vain.

4 days to go…

Poster files for download (March 14)

If you know of somewhere to place one of our posters to advertise our play, please download and print one of these files. These (8MB hi-q RGB jpeg) files can be used to print any size up to at least A3 (and they look great coming off my Epson Stylus Pro 3850 ;-)

They're Playing Our Song 2007 Poster — English
They're Playing Our Song 2007 Poster — Chinese

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21 Responses to “Unforeseen responsibilities”
  1. Matthew says:

    HArd hard Being an actor! Best of luck! I wish I could afford the time and the money, REALLY! I support your dream and project Greg. Best of Luck Do you best and have no regrets! No worries mate! hehe

  2. Sapphire says:

    Mr Ho,

    Every cloud has a silver lining. Hang in there.
    Ganbade!

  3. hyn5 says:

    Keep on truckin'!

  4. Drake says:

    Hi Greg, sorry to hear about the situation. I have given some thoughts on it, not sure if the following channels will help:

    1. Interview with BC Magazine, I bet you know, it's another popular publication among English-speaking community. Not sure if you can catch up for their next issue.

    2. Any contacts in the Aussie chamber of commerce, or similar kind of Aussie community group? maybe an email blast can catch many's eyeballs.

    3. As far as I know (if trend is not changed), there is a concentrated population of aussies or foreigners on Lamma Island, have you thought of posting posters or publicizing there?

    Well, unfortunately I am not in HK, otherwise, certainly would attend your play. Best of luck! Hope everything goes well.

  5. 河國榮 says:

    Drake,

    we actually had an interview with BC Magazine a few weeks ago. I don't know if the article has been published yet. I'll ask our marketing person.

    Lamma Island… interesting idea!

    thanks, and regards,
    Gregory

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Greg,

    I hope you will not mind if I talk bluntly.

    It seems to me market positioning has not been seriously considered, at least not in the beginning. You are looking for English-comfortable audience, but you are exposed mainly to the Chinese media. Neither TVB nor Apple Daily will bring you crowds of people. You may be well-known to the TVB audience, but an English play can be intimidating. Frankly, I thought the play was in Cantonese when I first learned of it. English speaking people, however, are less likely TVB fans and may not know you well.

    I hope there will be a breakthrough in the next couple of days and wish you good luck.

    Chris

  7. 河國榮 says:

    Chris,

    you are spot on.

    in the beginning, marketing was 'aiming' at students learning English. I don't know why but this was their target. a few weeks ago, the target changed a little but was still aimed at Chinese people. only a week ago did the people-in-power decide to target English-comfortable people; very very late in the game unfortunately.

    all we can do now is work harder to get heard by more of the English-comfortable people. fortunately, even if they haven't heard of me, the stage-loving-crowd will at least know of Neil Simon.

    not giving up yet ;-)

    Gregory aka Ho Kwok Wing

  8. 米蘭 says:

    I live in Tuen Mun. Next to Maxim's Palace is building that sells tickets to many stage performances featured in Hong Kong. I looked at every poster looking for your play but unfortunately couldn't find it. There were so many English and Chinese plays, but not your one.

  9. Julie says:

    Gregory, do you know I had a hard job finding details of your show on the URBTIX website? In the end I had to call URBTIX ticket hotline for the purchase.

  10. Peter says:

    Why don't you try the Standard? Unlike the SCMP, their internet site is free. 明報 is also good as it is the preferred paper for teachers, who may recommend the play to their students. And posters in universities (such as the English departments and drama schools), secondary schools and international schools?

  11. wade says:

    Yes, having said that you are aiming at the group of student or english learner. I did not see(at least hard to find...) any publicity in my working university. Weird! Do send me in an AI/Jpeg file or printed Poster and I shall post some of the Poster in school for you. This is all I can do for the moment... I think.

    Wade LT Chan, Lecturer
    Department of Communication Studies
    Hong Kong Baptist University

    224 Waterloo Road
    Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, HONG KONG
    wadechan@hkbu.edu.hk
    Tel +852 3411 5138
    Fax +852 3411 7890

  12. 河國榮 says:

    hello Wade (Mr Chan?),

    >Yes, having said that you are aiming at the group of student or english
    >learner. I did not see (at least hard to find...) any publicity in my
    >working university. Weird!

    you have no idea how weird everything is but we are facing some pretty serious obstacles because of the Arts Festival.

    >Do send me in an AI/Jpeg file or printed Poster
    >and I shall post some of the Poster in school for you.

    thank you so much ;-)

    in response to your offer, I've added links to our poster files at the end of the article.

    thank you so much,
    Ho Kwok Wing

  13. Albert Chin says:

    Dear Greg

    Salam Mesra (Friendly Greetings) from Malaysia.

    I am reading Napoleon Hill's book 'Succeed and Grow Rich

    through Persuasion' and came across this saying that I would

    like to share with you. Every adversity comes with it the seed of

    an equivalent benefit.

    Remember the Chinese character for crisis. Danger and opportunity.

    Have faith.

  14. Alison says:

    Go, go Gregory, GO!!! Understand your frustration. Unfortunately, I learn about all these a bit too late to offer any meaningful help. At the very least, I'll buy a few tix to support u! Looking fwd to your performance. Stay cool n keep u the gd performance! :-)

  15. woodkid says:

    wish u success in the musical! ^_^

  16. Timothy says:

    i would love to go see your play, too bad i'm here stuck in Canada. I tried my best afford to spread the words among my friends (who speaks english), hope that will help the show a little.Is there any planning on a DVD release after the show? coz I really wanna watch it, may be you guys could come over and perform in Vancouver. lol

  17. Pearl says:

    Hang in there!

    I did some theatre work before as well here in Singapore, and we faced the same predicament every time we staged a play. We did not have the financial backing and the contacts to put up an effective publicity effort, and basically, the theatrical scene in Singapore is very very small.

    Interestingly, while you may have faced issues because your play was in English, we faced many issues too because our plays were in Mandarin (the majority of young Singaporeans can't understand Mandarin well enough to save their lives)!

    Not sure how the situation is in HK but please do not be discouraged! From my experience, I have realized that ticket sales are important, but they are not everything that matters. To me, what matters most is the quality of the play, and the positive reception from those who truly appreciate it. In the last play we staged, ticket sales were bad, however, we received compliments from almost everyone who had turned up to watch. That, in itself, was enough to give us much satisfaction in the experience.

    Have confidence in it! Would have loved to watch the play if I wasn't stuck here in Singapore.

  18. Katie says:

    Nice to meet you on Saturday. Thank you for making my day a memorable one. ^^ I hope you like the coverage (though limited) in the paper today. What you're doing is very interesting and deserves more attention... I am sorry that I can't get you bigger coverage this time. It helps a lot if you could let us know weeks in advance next time because we do work ahead!

  19. Ellis says:

    Hi,Greg,
    I am not a dramma lover but do appreciate what you have done for "They're Playing Our Songs". Therefore, I invited a partner to go with me to support your performance this afternoon (18th Mar 3:00pm).
    What make me surprised was: though it only had about 30 audiences but you and Sompor did an excellent performance that brought us enjoyable and memorable 2 hours.
    Expecting you'd say something with the audiences after the show but you didn't, I'd like to suggest u to consider this point at your future performance as it's important to communicate with audience and get their comments.
    Anyway, I can say, you did good job. The response was not as bad as what we expect as the marketing job was really poor, moreover, the focus now is all at the Art Festival.
    Wanna tell you that your show make me feeling interest on seeing drama... looking forward to see your coming show.

    Ellis

  20. Sweetwilliam says:

    I'm appreciated your show on Mar 16. You're so great and what a beautiful voices. I feel that you are very tired when i saw you take the medicine. Or are you got sick? Please take care and keep going on coming shows.

    Another thing, just want to correct your 1 chinese word. TVB programme not name 「東長西望」, that ought to be 「東張西望」。

    I knew my english gramma is so bad, but hope you will understand my english.

  21. Irene says:

    I hope the play went alright, I know I'm about a year late in posting this...

    In your fourth paragraph you use the word 'affect' but I think you meant to use 'effect'.

    They should have targetted English comfortable people to begin with.

    When I went to see 'Butterfly Lovers' last year I also ran into problems. It was all in mandarin, which I'm not really fluent in, so although they had english subtitles it was still hard for me to catch everything in the play.

    I'm going to read on to see how everything turned out.