Saturday, February 07, 2009

Arrival in China

A very exciting time for the company. After many, many months of planning, we are gathering in Shanghai to start work Re-Orientations, the third, and most ambitious, part of The Orientations Trilogy. I arrived yesterday, and have spent most of today working with actors from the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, looking for the last few people to complete the devising company. It's quite a complex job: I'd forgotten just how difficult it is to work through a translator. Metaphor and energy - the stock-in-trade of direction, become diffuse and elusive. Many of the Chinese actors I saw today were very young: I wondered whether they really had the level of experience needed to devise. Towards the end of the day, a more mature, very intelligent and very charming lady came in to the room. She has performed in lots of modern work, including Pinter's The Lover, which is the right sort of territory, but I think she may have been scared by the idea of devising, and definitely (no surprise here) by the idea of playing somebody in a lesbian relationship. The central tension of this whole project has always been and will always be that these Asian cultures, that are so rich in their responses to the complexity of human sexuality, are also the ones which are most prudish today. Still - this is the theatre where Nick Yu planned to stage Angels in America, so we can't be on completely impossible ground!

Today, the rest of the company assembled from around the world! Nancy, Tony and Tori - all old hands from Dis-Orientations - arrived from England, along with Sarah Swingler, who is new to the project. Radhakrishna, who started all of this with me in 2003 (!) on Orientations arrives from Bangalore, and Mahesh Dattani, my mentor and guru in Asia and gender and author of Bravely Fought the Queen, from Mumbai. Mia and Mikhael are here from Teater Eksem in Gothenborg, and so are Denise and Micha from a fleur de peau in Paris. We all go out to dinner in the restaurant next to the Yue Opera, where Ruihong took me a year or so ago. Sadly, Ruihong has been in hospital, and so is not well enough to join us. I'm hoping I can get in touch with her soon, and see if she might be able to come in and work with us a bit. It did feel very much as if she was our missing centre tonight. But still - what an incredible group of people to have gathered around the Border Crossings table.

And, I have to say, Penny Mayes has done an incredible job of organising this!

No comments: