Monday, August 01, 2011
I flew out to San Francisco yesterday. Nothing to do with Border Crossings - though as so often with freelance work there are lots of possibilities in the trip - but to re-work Xerxes again. It's essentially the same show I did in Houston last year, with very few cast changes, so in theory it should be quite an easy job. In theory. I spent the morning watching the video of the Houston production and having a rush of "Oh - is that what we did? How are we going to get something that complex back in a very short time?" The system here is very odd: we don't actually rehearse till October, but we're doing much of the technical work now, a long way ahead of rehearsal proper. I just hope it doesn't mean we can't change any staging because of where the lights are.... luckily this is quite a bright show, so we ought to be OK!
The city is very different from other parts of America. I had a lousy introduction to it last night when I stumbled jet-lagged into the Tenderloin district, and found myself surrounded by homeless people pushing shopping trolleys containing all their worldly goods, and drug addicts in incoherent rages. It was deeply depressing. Today I discovered that this is not typical, and that San Francisco is rather an attractive place! I picked a museum at random, and went to the Museum of the African Diaspora. I'm not sure it's a museum in the conventional sense - there are no artifacts to speak of - it's more of an historical centre, with displays exploring slavery, the Haitian revolt, Mandela, African music and food, plus an archive where people can type in their own family histories. There's also a wonderful temporary exhibition of Siddi quilt-making. The Siddi are people of African ancestry living in India as a result of the Indian Ocean slave trade and similar - I knew a bit about them already because Rustom talks about his work with the Siddi of Karnathaka in our Theatre and Slavery book. I'd not seen pictures before, though, and I'd certainly not seen the lovely vibrant quilts which the women make. The exhibition is linked to an initiative to help them make some money for the community out of this craft. Here's the link: