If the blog's been quiet for a while, it's because Xerxes has been decidedly eventful. I can't be too explicit on the web - but two of the names in the publicity are not the same as those on the programme, so you can imagine some of the extra work that's been involved! And it's not over yet...
Meanwhile, Dis-Orientations moves on. My biggest concern is that the momentum may go out of things at the Chinese end - as I've experienced before, there's not much response to emails. Maybe I'll do some phoning next week (though the practicalities of that are fairly terrifying!). It should all work out with the Yue Opera Company; but until I know ,I won't know. The good news is that Zhang Wei, a big Yue Opera star who is independent of the government, and whom I failed to meet in Shanghai, has been emailing via her neice here, and seems very keen - so I have a fall-back position. Hopefully there will be video of her performing come December - by which time there really should be some response from Director You and friends.
Last Wednesday evening I was at the ICA, where Visiting Arts were throwing a party for Chinese arts administrators they've been placing on internships with UK organisations (and who are now off to france - mental note to talk to Farid about this show: Lierre being in the thick of Paris's Chinese quarter in the 13eme). Made some more useful contacts (like Tracy Xu from the Shanghai Municipal Performance Company, who came to talk to me because I was wearing a Chinese jacket, and turned out to be a possible "way in" to the Festival), and renewed some others (Jon Fawcett, who until recently programmed Riverside Studios, and booked Bullie's House in there, is now at Visiting Arts, who seem to be shifting their policy to include collaborations). Also meet an intriguing Chinese actress, who has trained with Phillippe Gaulier, and knows Zhang Rui-hong's work. Like me, she thinks that Zhang Rui-hong is a very special Yueju performer, with the ability to work in a whole range of ways and styles. As I suspected, it turns out that Blue Cloth and Red Dress is essentially her own creation.
The Columbia Foundation sends the confirmation letter / funding agreement. I'd been starting to stress out about the charitable status documents - wondering whether it would all go horribly wrong under US law. There was no reason to think it would other than paranoia.
This morning I met with Jon's successor at Riverside, Louise Chantal. She's a real mover and shaker - currently doing this job on a temporary basis as well as producing shows with companies like the Riot Group. The morning begins well when I spot a photo of Bullie's House on the venue's new leaflet for its membership scheme. They're obviously still very proud of it. Louise is really excited by the whole thing - so much so that we talk about the entire Trilogy for 2008, and even possible American tours.... It seems all we need to wait on is dates, which she should know this week. Cross my fingers.
Lunch with Seema, whose re-design of the Orientations set for last year's tour is now going to become the basis for the design of the Trilogy. It turns out her sister has lived in China for two years, so there's a really strong personal link to the material. The idea is that Seema will work with me through the whole process, creating the piece at Central and developing it with the professional cast. We both get very buzzy about it.