Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 2

A more fruitful and exciting day. It's proving very valuable to begin the day with Denise and Micha's work - anchoring the performers in the physical, the musical and the rhythmic, and avoiding language barriers. After that, I worked with them on the idea of re-orientation, getting everybody to relate personal stories about life-changes, and then using these as the basis for improvisation and creativity. Some extraordinary things emerge: the story of a Chinese baby girl born with a deformed foot, whose father rejected both her and her mother - how could she give birth to a child who was both female and disabled? The story of a young man who came out to his parents, and then had to explain to them that he had fallen in love with a woman. The story of an actor suddenly walking offstage in performance - just realising he couldn't do it any more. This last becomes the basis for a really strong scene with the Swedish actors - a performance of Miss Julie which goes very wrong!

We watch the second play on DVD in the afternoon. Dis-Orientations is a much stronger piece than the first play. I think I'd always known this, but not realised quite to what degree. We are all in agreement that play 1 needs re-working substantially, with the confidence and boldness of play 2. Play 2 also has its problems, but they are more readily solved, especially with the Chinese performers in the room. It's still tricky to understand what they are saying, but they have become far more engaged and active. And - very pleasingly - they are arguing between themselves and finding new ideas. I think I need to exploit this, and find ways of building a more authentically Chinese voice into the piece.

The one undoubtedly Chinese voice there so far - Zhang Ruihong - is sadly missed. I just hope we'll be able to contact her soon. Ling / Elaine has now arrived in Shanghai, and will start assisting me from tomorrow. So I should be able to get some phone calls made soon.

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