Monday, February 02, 2009

Snowed Under

I'm sitting at the PC and able to write this because it's proved impossible to get to Sidcup today for the Dress Rehearsal of The Good Soul of Szechuan. In fact, nobody could get there - the snow lay so heavily across London (and still does). They've postponed till tomorrow - but I rather suspect the same thing may happen again. If so, then the poor students will be several days away from having run the play, and minus their director - since I'm due to fly out to Shanghai in a couple of days. The idea had been that this would be after the opening - now maybe it won't be. The positive way of looking at this is that it's a great opportunity for the student assistant directors - the negative way is that my schedule will be letting them all down rather badly. I know it's daft to feel guilty about the unavoidable, but I suspect it's a human characteristic.

For example - I feel very guilty that we've had to remove Ngapartji Ngapartji from the Origins programme. It's not my fault at all - we just didn't get the support we needed from the private sector. But I know how many people were disappointed by a decision I had to make. Still, we are managing to get a lot to happen - with Soho coming back into the picture, and various venues for films. I seem to spend every second when I'm not in rehearsals doing this Festival - no doubt the same thing will go on when I'm in China. I'm a bit worried by this - the workshop for the Trilogy is so important creatively, and I have to give it 100% attention. Still - it's a different bit of the brain. I've noticed while doing the Brecht that I've been tired from all the admin - but not tired at all when in rehearsals. And focused.

It's actually been a very helpful process in terms of preparing me for the workshop. Partly because the piece is set in China, and deals with economic inequalities. But deeper resonances were set off at the Barbican on Saturday by Complicite's new piece Shun-kin. It's Japanese, of course, rather than Chinese or Indian. But, like our work, it deals with complex sexual identities in an Asian context. In the programme, Simon McBurney speculates that "Such 'perversions' do not carry the same stigma in Japan. 'Kinky' relationships are allowed to unfold, at least in Tanizaki's texts, with none of the same anxious guilt we in the West might have about such things." I'm not sure whether this is true of contemporary China or India - although historically the cultures were very tolerant. But I do find the play's approach to narrative, distancing and ambiguity extremely useful. Simon uses Asian theatricality as a way of implying a shifting, unreliable narrative. That could be very helpful for us - I think Part 3 of the Trilogy has to resist the desire to resolve everything. In relationships, there are no final resolutions.

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