Monday, February 09, 2009

The workshop begins

First day workshopping. As usual, I'm terribly nervous before we start, and feel fine once we get underway. We have five Chinese actors in the room: a lady in her forties called Song Ru Hui, a young girl called Wang Jue, and three young men: Wen Xiao Wei, Huang Chen and Qi Bai Xue. Only Xiao Wei has any real fluency in English, which means that they have a tough time watching Orientations on video - but we have to go through this just so we know the basic resources for the work we are doing. Faced with the image of homosexuality on stage in the play, they are more disturbed than they were by simply talking about it being present in the work at the audition. I find myself protesting over-loudly when one of them says that it simply isn't present in traditional Chinese culture. There's clearly a lot of discussion we have to have here.... On the other hand, Ru Hui has worked with Jin Xing, and does a very interesting improvisation around her sex change. Micha and Denise are brilliant in the morning session - finding ways of getting everybody to move like dancers, and at the same time bringing out the cultural differences really clearly. This is why I wanted them on the project - they are incredibly good at facilitating people's movement, in the same way I am trying to facilitate their creativity and acting.

Dinner with Mahesh - like old times. He is, as so often, a veritable litmus paper. Hold him up to something and watch the colour change - he can always tell you what works and what doesn't. He points out several key areas where the first play can grow and develop - either internally or into the third play. He's interested in Linda's relationship with A before the play begins: of course - if we don't see that then we don't know why she would go to such lengths to find him (her). And this will also make more sense of her developing sense of her own orientation. Tori, drawing off her Indian experiences, is also making some mileage here. Mahesh wonders if play 3 should not be set in London - but I rather resist that. I don't want it to feel as if people "come home". It's more intriguing if we set it in lots of places - if this last piece is about opening up the breadth of potential contemporary experience.

I'm glad to say, he goes with me on that one.

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