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Jim Chim stays focused

Published on Thursday, 25 Mar 2010
Jim Chim says theatre reflects humanity.
Photo: Jonathan Wong

Jim Chim Sui-man is known for his hilarious gags in movies and on stage, plus his impersonations of famous - and notorious - celebrities. The renowned theatre actor is the founder of Pleasure Imagination Play (PIP) Cultural Industries, the first privately funded cultural enterprise in Hong Kong.

Tell us about your career

I graduated from the school of drama at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 1990. I then joined the David Glass Mime Ensemble and toured Britain for eight months. I spent about three years in Europe studying with theatre masters Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux. When I came back in 1993, I started my own theatre company with my wife and a friend. 

What was the turning point of your career?

I used to have a fairly rigid idea of art. I wanted to learn theatre acting and go to a proper theatre company. But when I started doing serious plays, people laughed and that really frustrated me. Then I went to Europe to study with Philippe Gaulier, who taught me that the most important thing for an actor is pleasure. This was an incredible awakening for me, and it was then that I was able learn more about my potential. 

What challenges do performing artists face in Hong Kong? 

When I started out, I was annoyed with a group I call "art vanguards", who thought theatre should be intellectual and pure. They criticised me for catering to the mass audience and said the form that I embraced was not art. For me, theatre doesn't have to be intellectual. It is for people from all walks of life. 

How do you stay inspired?  

Be happy and sensitive to things around you. Theatre is a reflection of humanity and it's all around us. The world is in a state of constant flux. You have clashes between countries, cultures and religions.

Open up your senses, talk to people or just watch the news. Inspiration is everywhere. Ideas are in ordinary things that happen every day. 

What is your formula for success? 

For me, it's never to give up. If you play a game and you walk away because of a small setback, you've failed completely.

In theatre, even the best-laid plans can go astray. You have to get used to this and keep climbing over the hurdles. You will end up where you want to be. 

What's your advice for young actors? 

Explore things you don't know. Challenge yourself because there are many mediocre artistic ideas and values around us.


  • Debuted as a professional actor in the play Bozzo's Dead in London (1990)
  • Co-founded Theatre Ensemble (1993)
  • Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies' best supporting actor award (1998) and best actor award (2000)
  • Presented with the first Drama Development Fellowship from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council drama committee (2000)

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