Under Yu Jim Yuen's strict tutulege, eldest apprentice Ng Ming Choi's tall stage pillar stand like
this was easy for Seven Little Fortunes
Courtesy of orientaldaily.com.hk
Eileen Chang Oi Ling said, "Those who are used to watching Beijing Opera would feel nothing is exciting enough."
A famous Beijing Opera action actor who was renowned in Shanghaimigrated south to Hong Kong to avoid the war and decided to transplant the art of Beijing Opera into a tiny place like Hong Kong so it could continueto blossom.
Ten Year Term, Prohibiting Going Home
In a series of intense gong and drum beating, a bald child stood one legged on a small table. Although the table was small, the bald child's balance was a curious shock. The children around the table were all stunned as looks of envy appeared.
"Papa, he is amazing!"
"Papa, I want to be as great as him!"
The children around the table, some in Mandarin, some in Cantonese innocently said. Only that child who stood one legged atop the table remained steady throughout, because he knew someone was watching him from far. This one was no joke.
"Master Yu, my child then is in your hands."
A man dressed in a suit, striped tie with his hands behind him lightly nodded. His eyes though never left that bald child.
"For the child to enter my 'China Drama Academy', he can; but theschool has to set up a contract with the parent." That man in a suit saidin a straight posture and full of energy.
Young Hero Radiance
"I, Lee Yuk Lan, voluntarily place my son Chan Kong Sun, age 9, under the care of Yu Jim Yuen as an apprentice to study opera as a livelihood for a ten year term, during which all money made belonged to Master Yu, food, clothing, and shelter shall be Master Yu's responsibility; returning home is prohibited without reason, dropping out halfway is prohibited, accepting the fate in times of disaster and disease; both parties will search in case of runaway; misbehavior anddisobedience will be disciplined without discussion; appreciation of the Master when the term ends by the virtue of conscience; this document is written proof. Lee Yuk Lan, Signed December 1 1962."
From November 13 1959 when Yu Jim Yuen founded the China Drama Academy, contracts like the aforementioned one that has appeared in the film PAINTED FACES (CHUT SIU FOOK) would once in awhile have new "signers" and filled the Mirador Mansion 13th floor school address in Tsim Sha Tsui with bald boys and tomboys. Their childhood involved training during the day, performance at night and acting up in the middle of the night, mixing laughter and tears. Even though the school address later changed numerous times later, the sibling relationships between thechildren and the battle of wits between master and apprentices never changed.
From the mischiefs during the apprenticeship on the Lai Chi Kok amusement park stage six, to falling on hard times in the U.S. and helplessly disbanding, then the siblings shattering all over the place but continuing to shine in the film industry, Yu Jim Yuen's group of apprentices with laughter and tears, blood and sweat, created over half a century of cheerful era in Hong Kong.
Cheung Oi Ling was right, "Beijing Opera has a kind of childish power that meets our internal needs". Seven Little Fortunes were the portrait of young heroes.