That's Boras - not Borat. Cultural Learnings of Sweden Make Benefit Glorious Nation China. The town where we performed last night.
To be honest, we didn't expect much of Boras. It's an industrial town, a bit grey and rainy, and nothing like as pretty as Skovde was in the snow the other day. The theatre is a converted 50s cinema, with architecture that wouldn't have disgraced Stalinism, and Filip confessed it was really only in the tour so that there were three regional venues. When we set out from Gothenberg yesterday morning, only 15 people had booked to see the show there, in spite of the radio and TV coverage.
In a way, I guess that meant the pressure was off. Lloyd, Amy and Dori were very relaxed as they sorted out the set and lights, and we looked through all the states in detail. We even had time to rehearse some of the more tricky scenes on the tiny stage. No dimmer panics here: a new improved show featuring actors in light! So - oddly - we had rather a wonderful night. Especially since the audience which actually walked through the door was large, lively, diverse and appreciative. Lots of rhythmic clapping at the end. People buzzing with joy to have seen work of this kind in such an unlikely place.
Oddly, the final scene, which was a comic highlight in both London and China, doesn't seem to appeal to the Swedish sense of humour. With only three performances here, it's tricky to re-work it, but I'm fascinated to know why (and so far I have no idea). Other comedy works really well - especially, and not surprisingly, the tri-lingual scene in which Maja and Sammy learn bits of Swedish and Chinese. The Miss Julie bits have a strong resonance too. All part of the fascinating journey of this show between different very specific local responses to global ideas.
I've been reading some of the new Plagrave series of Theatre and... books since I've been here: specifically Ric Knowles on Interculturalism and Dan Rebellato on Globalization. I'm starting to wonder if it's right to define what we are doing as intercultural theatre. In Knowles's terms, this idea seems suspect, smacking of cultural imperialism, unless it's a form of "interculturalism from below", by which he means work initiated by non-white cultures and by-passing white mediation. Which doesn't cover us. A closer approximation is the idea of cosmopolitanism, at least as explained by Rebellato, who puts it forward as a positive response to globalization, which avoids the capitalist imperative of that movement, and the Luddism of localist response. In the end, theses are all just words, but they help to stimulate artistic and political ideas about where we might go next.