The workshop came to an end last week, with a sharing session for the SDAC management, and a few other invited guests. We deliberately called it a "sharing" rather than a "showing", as we really didn't feel we had got to a point where anything was in a state to be "shown" to an "audience" - although we were definitely in a place where it was helpful to share our work with interested parties, and get their responses.
Happily, the responses were really excited. A lot of the work we shared involved the use of technology - not because the show is necessarily going to be technology-heavy, but because those are the scenes around which we've hung the structure of the play as it's evolved so far. We're aware of the need for more naturalistic scenes around them, and have made versions of some of them which we have since jettisoned - but they don't yet exist in a version which makes sense for the final play. As a result, I felt the sharing was perhaps a bit imbalanced, but nobody else seemed to think that - and, very pleasingly, there was a strong sense that our approach was allowing technology to interact with live performance in a way that lifted the human story and made sense of how it operated, rather than swamping it (always the danger with new media in theatre). The scenes which attracted the most comment were the ones which involved interaction between actors and technology to do something totally new - as I guess you'd expect. Very pleasingly, the multi-lingualism of the piece drew no comments at all: it just seemed natural, and everybody understood as much as they needed to.
Liu Liang, the Artistic Director of SDAC, was very excited by the potential of what we've got. He told me that the piece was much more developed and inspiring than Re-Orientations had been at the same stage. I think he's probably right: the previous piece was apparently more polished in the "showing", but in fact very few of the characters had interesting psychological journeys in the way they do for the new play, and I ended up cutting vast swathes of the material we had shown. This time, the sense was one of building on what had been achieved so far, rather than re-thinking anything fundamental. Nick Yu, who is a wonderful dramaturgical adviser, suggested that we create a scene for Tony and Hui's characters "where language is not the problem". This is spot on - we need to deepen the idea of failure in communication, so that it becomes about something very deep in the contemporary condition, way beyond the banalities of language, culture, gender and class.
Feels like we are on the way.