Thursday, September 09, 2010

Press Night tonight

The show has now had two previews, and tonight we let in the journalists, and invite our guests. It's a pretty important moment for the company, and I have to confess I feel more than slightly nervous!

To keep me centred, I've answered a few more questions from the marketing people in Shanghai. Here they are!

1. The play is dramatizes a series of disasters; Tsunami, Storm, abandoned baby. Is there a theme of doom and gloom to the play?

Anything but, actually! Something I've found whenever I've travelled to places where terrible things have happened, is that people are incredibly resilient. Where you expect to see "doom and gloom" you actually get vitality, humour, sexiness, and energy.

When we were first working on the play in Shanghai, we noticed that the western people often expected the Asians to have tragic tales to tell - and the Asian people responded by telling them. But we also noticed that the context was lively, buoyant and colourful. So we wanted to overturn the westerners' idea of a doom-laden East.

This is a play about what happens in the aftermath of tragedy - so of course it acknowledges the tragedies, but it also deals with the comedy and the energy that can follow.

How will your new play explore gender relationships as the others did?

The play has a number characters who are involved in relationships with people of the same sex - and the opposite sex. In this play, sexuality is a very fluid thing - people aren't tied down to a specific way of being. I think that we live in a time where lots of the old-fashioned divisions into East and West, male and female, gay and straight and so on don't really make sense. It's much less clear cut than people used to think.

It seems that political interest has filtered through to cultural interest in your plays, especially with China and India. Has the global economic shift towards the two countries played a big role in your new play?

Yes! Our theatre is very much a theatre for the globalised world. It's about the way in which people live now that we're all so mingled together, and the differences that this makes to our dealings with one another. The political and social changes in Asia are some of the most important facts in the world today. It's changing everything, and as artists we have to respond to that.

How do the cultures intermingle in the new play? united through crisis?

I'm not sure that they are united through crisis. I don't think the world has got to that stage yet - I wish it had. I think what happens in the play is actually what happened in our devising process - that people form very different backgrounds, with a range of different languages, are forced by the situation they are in to find ways of making contact. However temporarily.

Does the play have a moral ending, teach us anything about the world today? Will we be 're-orientated' as such?

I don't think it has a moral in a strict sense - but I do think it forces people to reconsider their identity - just as the characters do.

What influences does the play follow? historical, traditions, news coverage?

There are so many! The recent histories, of course. Yakshagana, Yueju, Strindberg, news media, rock videos, experimental film....

7. What sort of themes to the play are there, morally/culturally?

It's very much a play about how we can learn to live together. On one level, we've had to do that as a company, working together with no single common language, in order to create the piece. Our little room has been a laboratory for the way the world could work. It's been about exploring ways of communicating, ways of being in your own culture and retaining your identity at the same time as living in a globalised multicultural space. And, as with all devised theatre, the process by which it is made is reflected in its meaning. The play has an extraordinary diversity of characters - all those nationalities, different ages, different sexualities, different political standpoints, rich and poor - and they struggle to survive when they are thrown together. Hence the title. People have to Re_orient themselves, to change, if they are to co-exist.

8. How will Re-orientations mix the contemporary with the old world?

History shapes us and is with us all the time. Perhaps especially in a society which is changing as rapidly as China, you can only really make sense of the present in terms of the past. So the play has a very strong sense of the presence of ghosts - either of close personal relationships or of wider histories. And these ghosts are reflected in the use we make of older cultural forms, like Beijing opera, Yueju and Yakshagana, and even Strindberg's Miss Julie. Our modern theatre only makes sense as something emerging from a broad range of living global traditions.

No comments: