Lifestyle

Story behind the Yau Ma Tei Theatre

Where is the arts and culture scene hiding in Hong Kong? Living in this concrete jungle, it seems like we’re constantly surrounded by commercial buildings and skyscrapers. People may have been more interested in the arts in the past, but nowadays it’s all about material goods and making a quick buck. Without historical buildings and artifacts, the city would lack personality and character. Yau Ma Tei theatre is one of the few art artifacts left in this city – are you familiar with its background story?

History

Built in 1930, Yau Ma Tei theatre is one of Hong Kong’s few existing pre-war buildings. The theatre consists of a cream colour building and a red brick building, which is officially listed as a historic building. The theatre used to be a place for citizens and dock workers to unwind after a hard day’s work, but due to the development of large-scale cinema chains, the independent cinema could no longer compete with the big brands. Although Yau Ma Tei cinema tried to become more competitive by featuring Japanese and Western erotic films, the cinema still didn’t generate enough revenue to survive in the business. In the end, the cinema was forced to close down in 1988.



Current use

In 2009, the government decided to use Yau Ma Tei theatre as a venue to support Cantonese opera. Therefore, the cinema was transformed into a performance arts venue, which currently houses 300 seats, a performance stage, make-up rooms, light and sound control rooms, a hall and ticket sales offices. The red brick house was also transformed into function rooms for all sorts of performance arts. If you’re interested in supporting the local Cantonese opera arts scene, please take the MTR and get off at exit B2 of Yau Ma Tei station, then walk for around 5 minutes to get to your destination.