I've been trying for ages to talk to Louise at Riverside and confirm the dates and contract. Finally manage it. She wants to move the whole show EARLIER - so we'd be looking at September. This puts me into blind panic mode. I fire off emails to China, in the hope that the performers can all manage it. Hopefully they can. In which case - all systems will be go... It explodes most of the plans - but that's the nature of theatre, I guess. Constant de-construction.
I went to Central on Wednesday: partly to meet up with the various students who'll be continuing their involvement with the show. It felt like a bit of a reunion. Tori will be leaving the drama school shortly, so this will be her first job. Billy and Jenny both seem keen to do it as a placement. I'll have to tell them the new dates now.....
Watched Geof Colman's production of Heiner Muller's Hamletmachine. I'd known this play (and Muller generally) for some time: and Alaknanda is always telling me how brilliant it is, and that I really should do some. The only performance I'd seen was her Medea on video. Hamletmachine is fascinating: theatre which is about the impossibility of theatre; acting which is about the impossibility of acting / action. Geof's production (as you'd expect in a drama school, I suppose) is very much about attempting to perform the idea of Hamlet - and even features recorded interviews with (I think) Gielgud, talking about the relationship between his performance and Irving's. It probably all sounds rather indulgent, but it's actually very funny, and very pertinent in a time when action seems so suspect, so difficult to achieve. Of course, that's also what Hamlet is about: and I admit that I spent quite a bit of time remembering what a good play that is! This is the dilemma of this sort of post-modern work: in suggesting that all we can do is de-construct, it returns us again and again to the canonical texts which it apparently destroys. Empowering its audience, de-construction turns into re-construction.
Nixon in China has elements of that too. There was a mini-incident in rehearsals this week which seemed very resonant to me. Fred suggested a bit of blocking from previous versions of the production, and I said that it didn't make sense to me. There was a slightly uncomfortable moment, and then I asked the singer what he thought. He said: "I just do what I'm told". Opera all over: for so many singers, the production is just a series of things to remember, not a structure through which they can build a performance with meaning. Until performers are empowered, theatre remains dead - even something like Nixon is not quite there until it has real inner life.