跳出框架

客語劇的精彩與亮點
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2020 / 2月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧客家電視台


自2008年、第43屆金鐘獎起,每年的戲劇節目獎都有客家電視台(以下簡稱客台)的作品入圍,至今已連續12年。我們這才發現,客語連續劇的題材包羅萬象,台灣文學改編、探討生死、精神疾病、偏鄉廢校、隔代教養等。客台以每年一至二檔的步調,從選材、編劇、選角慢慢打磨,一齣齣深具質量的故事才得以上演。

邀請大家拋開對客族的想像及語言的限制,帶著好奇心,共下看戲(共下:客語的一起之意)。


2019年10月,客台推出台灣第一部探討精神疾病的戲劇──《烏陰天的好日子》。故事以精神療養中心為背景,劇情圍繞在病患、家屬及醫護人員之間的互動而開展;因著各種精神疾病的症狀表徵,家屬面對疾病的各種反應,不管是自責、抗拒,或是包容,交織出一部充滿溫暖與力量的戲劇。

用戲劇傳遞能量

每集播出後,《烏陰天的好日子》粉絲專頁就會有網友感性留言,不論是被劇情感動落淚,或是勾起自身回憶,演員們真實且自然的演技,成功引起觀眾的共鳴。而能如此穿透人心,劇本是關鍵。編劇黃靜瑱曾任護理人員,自身也罹患過躁鬱症,深刻理解大眾對於精神病患的汙名化,以及病患給自己貼的標籤。她希望透過戲劇讓社會對精神病患有多一些的理解,更希望病患能明白,罹患精神疾病不是因為自己不夠好,或是做了壞事的報應,而是要撕去貼在身上的標籤,獲得面對疾病的勇氣。

為求對精神疾病有更全面、真實的呈現,製作單位找來身心科醫師當顧問,在開拍前替演員上課,指導有關自閉、躁鬱、思覺失調、人格分裂、創傷後壓力症候群……的症狀表現、病因,以及醫護人員可能的處置方式。大眾常認為精神疾病是心裡出現問題,但除了壓力、創傷等情緒的因素,精神疾病其實也與腦部組織出現異常有關,例如,憂鬱症是腦內的神經傳導物質分泌失調所致,不是叫病人想開一點就能解決。所以精神疾病與其他疾病一樣,可以透過找出病因,配合藥物及非藥物的治療,讓病患的病情獲得控制。

客家電視台戲劇群召集人黃桂慧表示,這部戲希望讓觀眾知道「病識感」,每個人都會有情緒的問題,必須適時排解,假如真的生病了就要看醫生,尋求專業協助,不要置之不理或聽信偏方。為拉近大眾與精神疾病的距離,粉絲頁上放置了各種精神疾病的介紹、溫馨小語,就像戲劇的宣傳標語:「我們無法把自己裁剪成符合世界的形狀,只要往前走,就算烏陰天也會是好日子。」生活本來就是起起伏伏,不是要把陰天變晴天,而是希望觀眾藉由戲劇的陪伴,獲得前進的力量。

給大家看的客語劇

細數客台製作的戲劇,其實產量不算大。隨著這幾年台灣電影的復興,影視工作者的數量並未相應增加。電影拍攝經費高、酬勞高,電視台必須以更高的金額吸引優秀的影視從業人員,戲劇製作費便跟著上升。黃桂慧表示,自己剛接戲劇組時一集的製作費大約80萬元,不到十年時間,現在一集已增加到200萬元左右。在預算不變的情況下,連續劇的製作便從早期一年兩檔、兩年三檔,如今約是一年一檔的頻率。

若仔細觀察客台歷年的戲劇作品,除了戲劇製作精緻化,還會發現戲劇取材也有顯著的改變。黃桂慧表示,早期客台戲劇方向以「客家人客家事」為主,希望透過戲劇向大眾介紹台灣這塊土地上有個客家族群,他們有哪些打拚、奮鬥的故事。像是2007年推出的《大將徐傍興》,由演員溫昇豪飾演有「台灣外科第一刀」之稱,也是台灣棒球推手、美和中學創辦人的客家裔醫生徐傍興。或是2009年的《十里桂花香》,描述鼎泰豐創辦人楊秉彝與客家裔的妻子賴盆妹,他們是如何創業奮鬥,打造台灣的小籠包傳奇。

但以宣揚客家成就為主的戲劇做久了,勢必會遇到瓶頸,尤其以真人為藍本的戲劇,必須深入挖掘具有戲劇張力的人生故事,所有的劇本內容都必須取得當事人及家屬的同意,有時候一磨就是一年,其前製準備可能還比原創劇本來的更久。再加上同樣題材做久了,會強化客家的界線,讓觀眾誤以為客台的戲劇只做給客家人看。為打破這樣的刻板印象,電視台轉換戲劇目標,改以議題性的取材,讓客語連續劇能吸引更多非客籍觀眾。像是2010年的青春校園劇《牽紙鷂的手》,是以中輟生遇上教學風格特殊的老師而展開的故事,也是編劇呂蒔媛第一部獲得金鐘獎的作品。客台讓戲劇內容能更面向大眾,試圖以具親和力的連續劇作為民眾認識客台的入門磚。

對於沒接觸過客語連續劇的民眾,黃桂慧推薦可由《出境事務所》入門,劇情以禮儀公司為背景,找來實力派演員吳慷仁、柯淑勤等詮釋生死議題。每個人都會有親友離世的經驗,劇中演員完美詮釋人在歷經生離死別時,可能有的情緒反應及行為表現,「讓觀眾可以套入自己的經驗產生共感,從中得到安慰,是一部蠻療癒的作品。」黃桂慧表示,客台的戲劇,在首播時或許不那麼受注目,但好的題材與堅強的演員陣容,使作品歷久彌新,上檔幾年後仍能受到民眾青睞。以《出境事務所》為例,透過網路影音平台的數據分析,自2015年首播至今,仍是客台最受觀眾歡迎的戲劇作品,不斷有新的觀眾收看。

突破語言的侷限

為了跳脫非客籍人士對客家的既定印象,例如客家大院、花布等元素,黃桂慧總是跟劇組強調,「製作客語連續劇的客家元素就是客語。」若場景或劇情裡需要客家元素的地方,客台在劇本討論階段就會給予建議,例如以符合地域的客家宅第來拍攝時代劇,不需要刻意在場景布置大量花布,因為那並非客家人生活的真實樣貌。所以製作客語連續劇的劇組團隊,如導演、編劇,甚至是演員,都不一定要是客籍人士,「處理客家文化的問題,我們來就好。」黃桂慧笑說。

每齣戲的選角,客台都是以製作好看的戲為優先,依角色屬性尋找合適的演員,即使不諳客語也沒關係。只要願意接受挑戰,客台會找來語言指導,幫演員作客語發音的訓練。除此之外,語言指導會將台詞譯成客語並一句句錄音,以一次慢速朗讀、一次正常速度的形式,讓演員在開拍前就能先背好台詞;開拍後,語言指導會依角色性格調整台詞的語氣,並在拍戲現場協助監督台詞發音的正確性。演員同時要兼顧台詞與演技實在不容易,也因此,假如拍攝華語戲一天需要10小時,拍客語就需要16小時,如此給予導演與演員磨合的充足時間。

就黃桂慧長期的觀察,判斷演員對客語是否學得來,有個有趣的分類。通常會講閩南語的人,大概一個月就能學會;但若只會講國語的人就會學得比較吃力。因為客語有七個聲調,而閩南語有八個,國語只有四個聲調,在轉換聲調時就常會遇到困難。所幸台灣演員的學習能力都蠻強,使用不熟悉的語言也不影響演技,能讓劇情詮釋流暢,一般觀眾在看戲時根本不易察覺。面對民眾不懂客語就看不懂客語連續劇的擔憂,黃桂慧表示,近幾年韓劇大量來台,降低了戲劇的語言限制,即使不懂韓語也不影響對劇情的理解,她鼓勵民眾也能以同樣的開放態度來欣賞客語連續劇。

立足世界的客家劇

身為公廣集團裡的電視台,客台少了商業電視台的營收考量,多了對社會議題的關注與文化傳承的使命,也因此影響了戲劇選材的深度與廣度。例如《雲頂天很藍》,就演出了偏鄉廢校、新二代、隔代教養等社會現象;這幾年常在新聞裡看見的勞工權益問題,例如保全人員休假制度、過勞認定、勞檢機制等,客台也以比較輕鬆的節奏,拍攝成《勞動之王》,盼能藉由戲劇引起民眾對議題的好奇與關注。

2019年推出的《日據時代的十種生存法則》,則是以戲劇重新詮釋台灣文學,由成功大學台灣文學研究所畢業、研究賴和的陳南宏擔任製作人,精選賴和的作品編寫成時代劇。將日據時期台灣人的身分認同問題,會社壟斷市場、控制收購價格等當時庶民的生活景況以戲劇重現。即使穿越百年,賴和筆下的台灣人所面臨的種種困難,與當今台灣社會的貧富差距、年輕人對未來的不確定性等,都契合了現代人的鬱悶,也拉近了台灣文學與大眾的距離。

秉持推廣的想法,客台製作的連續劇皆可在官網、YouTube、LINE TV等網路平台免費觀看。「我們敢說全世界也沒有別人在做客語發音的節目。」黃桂慧自信地期盼,「我們想做世界的客家,希望以後不管在哪裡講到客家,大家就會想起台灣有個客家電視台。」透過網路的無遠弗屆,讓客語連續劇在世界的客家文化中占有一席之地。

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Thinking Outside the Box

The Splendors of Hakka TV Drama

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Hakka TV /tr. by JR Lee

Shows from Hakka TV have been nominated for Best Television Series at the Golden Bell Awards every year since 2008. Hakka serial dramas cover a variety of topics from adaptations of Taiwanese literature to life and death, mental illness, and rural school closures. Over time, Hakka TV has improved on the choice of subject matter, the scriptwriting, and the casting, enabling one quality story after another to make their way onto the screen.

So why not set aside your preconceptions of Hakka culture, look past the language, and join us in watching these shows?


 

In October 2019, Hakka TV came out with the first drama in Taiwan to explore mental illness, called Light of Cloudy Day. Set in a psychiatric facility, this warm and powerful drama tells the story of patients, family, and medical personnel, and how they interact.

Transmitting positive energy through drama

The show has resonated with viewers so much that each time an episode airs, people leave emotional comments on the Light of Cloudy Day fan page saying how the show moved them to tears, or brought up some of their own memories. The screenwriter, Huang Jingtian, was once a nurse and has bipolar disorder, so she fully understands the stigma attached to mental disorders, as well as how ­patients label themselves. While she hopes her show can educate society on mental illness, she is more concerned with helping patients understand that having a mental illness is not because they are not good enough, nor is it retribution for doing something bad. She wants patients to instead rip off these negative labels and gain the courage to face their illness.

Most people believe mental illnesses stem from psycho­logical problems, yet in addition to emotional factors such as stress and trauma, mental illness in fact may also be related to abnormalities in a person’s brain tissue. Depression, as an example, is caused by an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters; it is not an illness which can be cured by simply telling someone to think more positively. Thus, like any other illness, mental illness can be controlled by finding the cause and administering pharmacological and non-drug treatment.

Huang Kuei-hui, head of the program department at Hakka TV, says this drama aims to raise awareness of such illnesses. She also hopes viewers know that everyone will at some time have emotional difficulties that should be dealt with promptly, and that if you do get sick, you should see a doctor rather than ignoring it or believing in home remedies. As a trailer for the show says, “We can’t cut ourselves into a shape which conforms with the world’s expectations. Just keep walking forward and even a cloudy day will be a good day.” Life has its ups and downs. The goal is not to turn cloudy days into sunny days. It’s about giving the show’s viewers the strength to keep moving forward.

Hakka shows for all

With the recent revival of Taiwanese movies, both film budgets and remunerations have increased, so that TV stations have needed to offer higher pay to attract talented cast, thus raising production costs. Huang Kuei-hui says that when she took over the program department, it cost roughly NT$800,000 to produce one episode of a series, but in less a decade, that cost has increased to NT$2 million. With the budget unchanged, only one series can be produced per year nowadays, when two or three were possible in the past.

As Huang notes, in the past shows on Hakka TV used to focus on stories about “Hakka people and Hakka affairs,” portraying the struggles of the Hakka people in Taiwan. For example, in the 2007 drama The Story of Hsu Pang-hsing, actor James Wen plays the eponymous Hakka doctor, said to be “the best surgeon in Taiwan”; Hsu was also the founder of Meiho Senior High School and an avid promoter of baseball in Taiwan.

However, over time, this emphasis on extolling the achievements of Hakka people tended to confuse people into assuming Hakka TV dramas were only meant for Hakka viewers. To break this stereotype, the station began to center its shows on specific issues to get non-Hakka viewers interested in Hakka serial dramas. In the 2010 campus youth drama The Kite Soaring, a group of high-school dropouts encounter a teacher who uses unconventional teaching methods. The series attempts to relate more to viewers and get them to dip their toes in the dramas offered on Hakka TV.

For those who have never been exposed to Hakka-­language drama series, Huang Kuei-hui recommends starting with Long Day’s Journey into Light, which is set in a funeral home and explores issues of life and death. Everyone has experienced the passing of a loved one, and the actors in the show perfectly portray how we might react when saying goodbye to someone close to us. “A rather therapeutic work of art, the show resonates with viewers by getting them to draw from their own experiences, and find some solace in the process.” Huang states that shows on Hakka TV may not garner a lot of attention on the first airing, but the high-quality material and strong cast help the shows stay fresh and popular years after their releases. For example, according to a data analysis from online video platforms, Long Day’s Journey into Light has remained the most popular show from Hakka TV since its first airing in 2015 and there are constantly new viewers watching it.

Breaking language barriers

Hakka TV prioritizes producing a quality show when casting characters, and so looks for actors who would best fit the role. Even if the actors are not versed in Hakka, as long as they are willing to accept the challenge, the station will hire a language coach to train them in Hakka pronunciation. The coach will also translate their lines into Hakka and record them sentence by sentence, once at a slow pace and once at a normal speed, so that the actors can memorize their lines before shooting begins. Once shooting commences, the coach will help the actors adjust their intonation to better match the role, and will be present on the set or on location to check that their pronunciation is correct. It’s no easy task for the actors to focus on both their lines and acting, so if it takes ten hours a day to shoot a show in Mandarin, it will take 16 hours to make the same content in Hakka, to give the director and actors sufficient time to get things down pat.

Interestingly enough, according to Huang Kuei-hui’s years of observation, actors learning Hakka fall into two categories: those who know Taiwanese and can learn Hakka in about one month; and those who only know Mandarin and struggle more in learning the language. Hakka has seven tones, and Taiwanese has eight. But since Mandarin only has four, Mandarin speakers find Hakka tones more difficult. Luckily, Taiwanese actors are quick learners, and performing their lines in an un­familiar language doesn’t affect their acting. They can still maintain the flow of the plot, so most viewers won’t even notice it’s not their native language. As for viewers who worry they won’t understand Hakka shows if they do not understand Hakka, Huang points out that Taiwan has seen a surge in Korean dramas in recent years, which has increased audiences’ acceptance of foreign-language dramas. Even if viewers don’t understand Korean, it doesn’t prevent them from following the plot. Both domestic and foreign drama programs broadcast in Taiwan are routinely subtitled in Chinese, so audiences are used to seeing subtitles on their TV screens. Huang encourages everyone to take the same approach towards Hakka serial dramas.

Globally-oriented Hakka shows

As part of the publicly owned Taiwan Broadcasting System, Hakka TV is not concerned about revenue like a commercial TV station. It has a mission to highlight social issues and transmit cultural traditions, which in turn impacts the depth and breadth of the topics ­covered by its dramas. The show Somewhere over the Sky, for example, features social phenomena such as rural school closures, second-generation immigrant children, and skipped-generation families. Labor rights issues that have often been in the news in recent years, such as the working hours of security firm employees, the legal definition of overwork, and the labor inspection system, are addressed in a more lighthearted way in a Hakka TV series called Karoshi, which aims to use drama as a medium to inspire curiosity and awareness of social issues.

The 2019 drama Survival is a reinterpretation of Taiwanese literature. The show’s producer Chen Nanhong, who graduated from the Department of Taiwanese Literature at National Cheng Kung University and studied the Taiwanese physician and poet Loa Ho (1894-1943), selected the best of Loa Ho’s works and adapted them into a period drama. His drama portrays the problems the common folk faced during the Japanese colonial era such as an identity crisis, corporate monopolies, and government control of purchasing prices. Even a century later, the many problems Loa described the Taiwanese people as facing still reflect the pent-up frustrations modern Taiwanese people have towards wealth disparity and the uncertainty of their youth’s future. In this way the show has bridged the distance between Taiwanese literature and ordinary people.

To promote these series, all Hakka TV serial dramas can be watched for free online on the station’s official website, on YouTube, and on LINE TV. “We dare to say that no one else in the world is producing shows in Hakka.” Huang Kuei-hui says confidently, “We want to be Hakka with an international outlook, and we hope that when anyone talks about Hakka culture, they will think of Taiwan’s Hakka TV.” Thanks to the global reach of the Internet, there is a place for Hakka serial dramas in the world’s Hakka culture.

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