Friday, March 20, 2009
Which said, it's an incredible piece. The libretto moves between reportage and poetry, with lengthy quotations from Donne, Baudelaire and the Gita. And the music similarly moves between the lyrical and the rhythmical, with an astonishing climactic orchestral passage as the bomb is finally tested.
I don't understand why they didn't get Peter to direct it - which I had thought had been the plan. The production feels very lame to me - there's very little sense of how to use stage space. The director's background is TV, and, while she did a very good TV version of The Death of Klinghoffer, this lacked focus. But the music was so fantastic that I didn't really mind!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Still, it feels like he's leaving on a high - and it's not for any negative reason. In fact, it really is to spend more time with his wife and family. Yes, honestly, it is.
The board of a charitable company is a strange thing. Officially it has all the power. In practice, as unpaid trustees, its members are involved with the company as volunteers, and so don't do much of the hands-on work. But this group of people is really valuable, as much as anything for expertise and advice. Oliver's been our legal presence - and he's said that he'll carry on giving us legal thoughts, so in many ways we aren't losing him. But it's good to have the chance to say how great he's been over a very long time!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
China already seems a long time ago. Penny and I started following up with the Chinese companies today: Penny's carefully building the next stages of the project.
On Friday, I went to Sadler's Wells to see the new Lepage piece, Eonnagata, made in collaboration with Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant. I must admit, I was a bit scared when I heard Robert was making a piece which drew off an Asian tradition of cross-gender performance, and which involved dancers.... I was worried that I'd have nothing left to do! Luckily, the two shows could not be more different. Eonnagata is much more a dance piece than The Orientations Trilogy: in fact, the story is limited to a few bare facts about the life of the Chevalier d'Eon - little more than you get from the one-page programme note. The real joy of the show is purely visual, with an incredible lighting design by Michael Hulls. When I tell her about it, Nisha says that Robert seems less and less of a theatre-maker these days, more of an installation artist. I think she has a point.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
So – it was a huge relief when the first sequence we showed (Denise and Micha’s choreography about the tsunami) earned a round of applause from the little crowd, and when Qi and Mia’s comedy of misunderstanding started to draw laughter. Hui and Jue also started getting laughs – and not just for lines in Chinese. And, at the end, Nick Yu stood up and said how moving a lot of the presentation had been. He then handed over to the Artistic Director of SDAC: Lu Liang. I’d been wondering for some time who really was in charge. Nick has always seemed to make the artistic decisions when I’ve been around, but I knew he didn’t have total power. For a while, I had thought that a woman director who had sat in on a number of our sessions, and given some very useful suggestions, might be the artistic director (she said she was “an artistic director here”). But no – Lu Liang is a charismatic, middle-aged man, who (I’m now told) is very famous as both an actor and director in
In the evening, Director Lu reappears next to me at dinner. Another banquet, this time hosted by SDAC for everybody who has worked with us these last three weeks. This time, he is much more forthcoming: he says that he and Nick have talked, and that, subject to “the approval of the arts board” (whatever that may be) they are keen to present the production. A huge relief to me. I “gam bei” with him in rice wine, and (via Ling) we discuss devising processes, the state of Chinese theatre, and the interesting writers at work today. It feels like the sort of event where I should make a speech of thanks, so I stand up and say some rather formal things about the value of cultural exchanges and the importance of art in envisioning the future of the planet. Director Lu’s answer is jokey and fun: he says that I clearly know what the Communist Party would expect me to say. He’s quite right that this is the sub-text of the speech (although I also believe it!) – but it’s very striking that he should say so. We also joke about calling one another “comrades”: in contemporary
Saturday sees me on the train to
At the end of the session, as Roshni is telling me that she’s seeing many of her students in a totally new light, one of them shyly sidles up to us. She’s been one of the most enthusiastic participants – but now she seems to have reverted to an earnest girl in glasses. “Excuse me”, she says. “I have a question. What is the point of this?”