Speech by CS at special viewing and drinks reception of exhibition of Shakespeare's First Folio (English only)
Mr Andrew Heyn (British Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macao), Mr Nicky Dunne (Chairman of Heywood Hill), Dr Andrew Gailey (Vice-Provost of Eton College), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to join you at the special viewing and drinks reception to mark the opening of the exhibition of William Shakespeare’s First Folio on the 400th anniversary of his death. I would first of all like to take this opportunity to extend an official welcome to Mr Andrew Heyn, the new British Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macao. Let me also welcome Dr Gailey and Mr Dunne who have specially travelled to Hong Kong for this occasion.
William Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent playwrights. In this year marking the 400th anniversary of his death, I understand events have taken place all over the world to celebrate his great literary works, which have had such an impact not only on English Literature students like myself, but also in drama, movie, philosophy or on anybody who seeks a deeper understanding of humanity. Indeed, in Hong Kong, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Opera Hong Kong presents one of his four tragedies – Otello, which depicts the catastrophic effects of jealousy. Thanks to the joint efforts of the British Consulate in Hong Kong, Eton College and Heywood Hill, the people of Hong Kong now have this opportunity to see the First Folio, a great literary artefact, alongside pictures, photographs and three Shakespeare Quartos highlighting a comedy, a tragedy and a history play.
The First Folio is the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, collated and published in 1623, seven years after he passed away. Folio editions are important to the preservation of the work of Shakespeare for future generations. The First Folio contains 36 of his plays and half of them remained unpublished until 1623. It is believed that around 750 First Folios were printed, of which only 233 are currently known to survive worldwide.
Hong Kong is blessed with a very vibrant consular community comprising 62 Diplomatic Missions and 60 Honorary Consuls. They play a very important role not only in enhancing bilateral relationship between Hong Kong and their respective countries, but also in enriching Hong Kong’s cultural scene through hosting very popular activities like this free exhibition. In my tenure as the Chief Secretary for Administration, I think I have played a small role in encouraging and facilitating more of those events, such as the Event Horizon Hong Kong hosted by the British Council; the Le French May which held a number of events at the official residence of the Chief Secretary; the Bellissima Italia whose launching reception will also take place at the Chief Secretary’s residence later this week; the first-ever Japan Autumn Festival which I officiated at earlier this month, as well as my numerous attendances at concerts, festivals organised by our consular corps and the related business chambers. While trade and investment are essential, culture plays an important part in strengthening people-to-people links.
The Hong Kong SAR Government will continue to work closely with our stakeholders to continue to promote the development of culture and the arts in the city. My special thanks goes to the British Consulate General for bringing this important and enduring book in the world to Hong Kong, following last year’s exhibition of the 1217 copy of the Magna Carta. We look forward to the furtherance of the cultural links between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
Finally, may I wish the exhibition a great success and all of you a pleasant evening. Thank you.
Ends/Monday, October 24, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:12
Issued at HKT 20:12