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President honors late theater icon Hugh Lee

TAIPEI -- A presidential citation was issued Thursday for late Taiwanese theater director and actor Hugh Lee (李國修) in recognition of his contributions to the performing arts in Taiwan.

President Ma Ying-jeou presented the citation to Lee's wife Wang Yue (王月) at a memorial service for Lee in Taipei that was attended by around 3,000 celebrities, fans and people from the theater and arts sector.

In the presidential citation, Lee was lauded as a playwright, director and actor who “promoted the development of original theater art and enriched culture, education and aesthetics his whole life.”

He was “a pioneer in Taiwan's little theater movement and in doing away with theater elitism,” according to the citation.

Lee not only left behind a large body of work, a daughter and a son, but many students, who manifested his spirit, thoughts and life, Wang said.

“Hugh Lee, thank you. I love you,” Wang said amid cheers and applause from the audience.

Videos and images of Lee, as well as clips of his theater plays, were shown at the memorial service, which was hosted by TV presenter Sam Tseng.

Lee, founder of the Ping-Fong Acting Troupe, one of Taiwan's leading theater groups, died in Taichung July 2 at the age of 57 after battling cancer for the past three years.

Born in Taipei in 1955, Lee set up Ping-Fong in 1986 and was the group's main actor, director and writer until 2011. His works, such as “Can Three Make It,” are known for satirizing contemporary political and social events and for using just a few actors to play many different characters.

He was the first recipient of the National Award for Arts in the drama category when the award was established in 1997, honored for his works that combine traditional and modern art formats and his efforts to build a professional theater group.

Lee is considered one of the most prolific and most-recognized figures in contemporary Taiwanese theater. He wrote and directed 27 plays and played over 100 roles during his career.

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Family and colleagues of late theater director and actor Hugh Lee take a bow at a memorial service in Taipei, yesterday. A presidential citation in honor of Lee's work was also issued yesterday. (CNA)

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