Thursday, March 22, 2012

Deeper into Devising

We're now a long way into the devising process, and a strong sense of the play is starting to emerge. Perhaps inevitably, in a play with three actors, it's an eternal triangle of sorts - though not at all in a conventional sense. What's exciting is the way in which things which initially appear to be obstacles are becoming the most important aspects of the piece. An obvious example is language - though we knew that before we started - but also the way in which some actors respond to particular types of stimulus, while rejecting others very strongly, can reap great rewards. Lu Xun's stories, which I had thought might form the basis of the plot structure, turn out to be very unpopular with Chinese people of my generation, who associate them with the Maoist indoctrination of their youth. I don't think the stories are Maoist - but that's the cultural baggage they have acquired here, and we'll be in trouble if we ignore that. But, in rejecting the subject matter of the stories, we've been able to make a much more interesting use of their structures - in such a way that you won't even know they are there when you see the play.

Ning Li, our new performer, is fascinating and brilliant. He's never done devised work before, but you would never know. He's improvising in both Chinese and English, researching, suggesting ideas, playing with technology and getting very excited about choices of music. The majority of his work is in film, and that shows in the way he brings together different elements of performance, as well as his ability to shift between theatricality and a much more low-key style.

Tomorrow, we are taking a train to Ningbo, to our first public involvement in the piece. We're doing a workshop session with students at the Nottingham University campus there - perhaps including some of the group whose response to Re-Orientations was so inspiring. This is a new venture - I've never involved a creative audience so early in a process before... and I'm very excited about it.

I'll let you know how it goes....

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