Friday, August 18, 2006

The First Week

Friday night, and the first week of rehearsals is over. It's flown by. Slightly odd not having Zhang Ruihong with us yet (she's performing tonight in Hangzhou), but in a way it helps that we acquire a way of working amongst the English speakers and people used to devising before we throw in somebody who is neither. Already the process feels very rich. We've avoided simply using the script of the first version - almost every scene is being re-made through improvisation, and so is becoming very real for this group of actors. And we're finding new scenes too - bridges which take us over the yawning chasms which existed in the piece at its work-in-progress stage.

Wednesday was really amazing: a day spent pooling background research and knowledge. Amanda's parents turn out to have met in Shanghai in the 30s, where her mother was a famous writer and glorious decadent. As before, Haili is full of insights into Chinese culture which constantly dis-orient the rest of us (in a productive way). We were talking about the Beijing spring, and she told us that her mother had told her she should not join the students, because it felt like the start of the Cultural Revolution again - and that meant the government had no choice but to stop it, so that the tragedy was not replayed. I'd never heard that idea before - but it has the ring of terrible truth to it. Nothing is ever so simple as it seems - and this process is about the search for true complexity.

Doing admin each evening - annoying things like signing cheques and sorting out bank letters, dealing with the Revenue's Foreign Entertainers' Unit, checking the venue contract. Drafting the programme. It feels like there's more than ever this time - maybe the show is just bigger. In a way it's lucky the family have been away this week - hopefully I'll be more able to do the balancing act once they're back with me tomorrow.

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