Monday, December 03, 2007

Back to Shanghai

Kate and I spent most of last week doing the accounts for the production, tidying up, paying people and making sure we'd broken even. I had hoped to get reports in to the Arts Council and Passage of Music - but the sums are complicated, and we didn't quite make it by the weekend. So now it has to be on hold, while I do another scouting trip to China.

I landed in Shanghai at 9.25 this morning. My body thought it was 1am, and I'm still struggling to convince it otherwise. Everybody had said China in December would be freezing - but actually it's about the same as London, and slightly sunnier. The haze is here, though. This evening I see the hoards of cyclists battling through the rush hour, their mouths covered with masks to keep out the pollution, looking like a variation on the stocking-masks of Dis-Orientations. It's this show that I'm here to talk about, and (just like last time) the Yue opera company are keen to meet as soon as possible, so I have to contrive a way of waking up tomorrow morning. This is going to be made yet more tricky by the luxury nature of tonight's bedroom at the Astor Hotel. My guide book for some reason claims that this - Shanghai's oldest hotel, dating from 1846, a mere stone's throw from the Bund, and the place where Chaplin, Einstein, Ulysses S. Grant and Bertrand Russell passed their Shanghai days, is a budget option. Being fool enough to believe them, I booked it online, thinking, in my mid-Dilemma blur, that the price I signed up to was for all three nights. It's not: it's per night. Needless to say, I shall be moving tomorrow to somewhere which allows my Connections Through Culture grant to seem a little more appropriate.

I'd not exactly had much time to plan this trip while Dilemma was running, but I think it's going to be quite exciting, provided I can get my head back into the Trilogy quickly enough. Walking around the streets this afternoon, the "feel" of China came rushing back rather quickly. And the craziness of Shanghai, which is so central to this work. The trip into town from the airport takes no time at all on the incredible Maglev train: it works through magnets, so there is no contact between train and track, and the resulting lack of friction means the train goes at an astonishing 430km/h. And now I sit in a huge, oak-panelled room, wondering if Einstein had this bed.

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