It's nice to see that a section of this blog is now on view in prestigious places: the BBC's African website. Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/africabeyond/africanarts/17676.shtml. It's some extracts from the blog when I was in Ghana last year, plus some of the interview I did with Ama Ata Aidoo while I was there. Interestingly enough, it's next to another interview with Ngugi wa Thiong'o: I'm just starting to read his work, which is fascinating in terms of the language debate. This was another thing Ama Ata and I dealt with; partly in response to the fact that Aunty Ama speaks very little English, but also because of reflecting the social realities of modern Ghana. We're looking to make our Dilemma a multi-lingual production. Like so much Border Crossings work.
Language has been much in my mind this week, since I'm back in Athens, and once again rehearsing Nixon in China with Fred co-directing. There are British and American soloists, plus two Greek ones, Greek musicians and stage staff, a Greek chorus (!) and some Chinese actors, two of whom speak neither English nor Greek. In the actors' rehearsals, English direction is translated into Greek and Chinese. For a piece so intensely pre-occupied with language and communication, it seems highly appropriate. It's also a bit perturbing that so much of the opera is about non-communication.
There's quite a bit of the latter around this first week. Teething troubles, I'm sure. Our first Chorus rehearsal doesn't happen because our decision to cancel the principals gets interpreted as "cancel everybody". Our second chorus call gets mired in a union dispute: apparently the rehearsal room has bad air. We end up crossing town to the company's little resident space (not the one we'll be performing in) and give an hour's introductory talk in the foyer. We can't do any staging, though. And there isn't another Chorus rehearsal for a week, because they're doing Tosca. Meanwhile, the dispute remains unresolved. I try to rise above it all, and spend Friday evening talking to Jeremy Huw Williams about the extraordinary figure of Zhou Enlai. In this opera at least, and perhaps in history, he is a profound and spiritual figure, continuing to work and to do as much as he could for hope and a future, while all around him there was unbelievable chaos.......
This blog is meant to be about Border Crossings, but this particular piece of freelance work is so much part of that intercultural project in terms of my involvement and thinking about it that I suspect I'll be mentioning it rather often. For some reason, the company rehearses 10-1 and 7-10, which means that the afternoons are good for admin and blogging, so long as I can avoid the natural temptation towards the siesta.