Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lucy in China

Shanghai Theatre Academy
Building on the success of Consumed, Lucy has just made a trip to China, to work on joint education and participation initiatives with our partners there.  Huge thanks to the British Council's Connections through Culture programme for supporting this visit!  As with most first visits to China, this was clearly an eye-opener for Lucy, and tremendously exciting!  Here are a few thoughts from her:

"Great first workshops - all female students, and despite being in essay session so very busy/tired- seemed to enjoy working with me. (Du Ping was worried they might not show as under lots of stress but had 14).  I decided to do similar workshops to those done in UK- so I could compare responses.  It was fascinating.  Stories of names were amazing - one person admitted her name is fake as she had to create a 'new' father  they invented to go on her papers so they could  travel to Korea. She uses her fake  name - her mother won't let her take her name as all women in her family have been unlucky (5 generations of single mothers).  One person's name was chosen from an ancient dictionary from the Ming dynasty- using lucky numbers.  One girl had a name meaning 'dawn'- but she kept being sick- so her parents consulted a name expert and changed her name to 'pure flowing water' - and when I asked her if her health  improved - evidently it had.  I had a teacher from the business faculty who joined us out of interest and she advised the girls that even if their parents aren't openly affectionate with them or tell them that they love them - their names chosen are  a reflection of their love!  I was slightly apprehensive they might take time to warm-up but they opened up immediately and it was a very lively session.  They were happy when I moved tables and told them to put notebooks away-  we were here to play!  I got a round of applause at end of workshop- (maybe that’s common here?- still nice though)"

"I was really sad to leave the students today- they too seemed so upset it was the last day. Despite all having major essays due tomorrow they were fantastic.  We were talking about dramatic action, and looking at wants and objectives-what we want now, short term future and end of life and what was stopping us. One girl, talking about the end of life, said she would like to look back and see she had regrets: I asked her if she meant no regrets, she said no, she is always a good girl, a good daughter a good student, always hands homework in etc. - just once she would like not to be, and to do something she could regret!

These students so need drama- they need to discuss their hopes and dreams, think about how human nature works. Many of them wanted to be dancers, musicians, composers but had long since given up their dreams so young - they enjoyed so much playing, talking, creating.  It was very moving.  I feel
very emotional thinking about them.  Both groups all girls - and so pressured.  Funnily going back to names- if fathers chose names they often chose names such as 'quiet beauty', (who quietly and shyly announced she didn't want to be quiet) or 'gentle flower': if mothers chose names they often seemed to go for 'reach for the sky'. One girl said her name had male and female characters and people often wrongly thought it meant her parents wanted a boy: in fact her mother wanted her to have the characteristics from a man that combined with the female character would help her to succeed."

"I had three hour session with Shanghai Theatre Academy this morning - Daniel [Shen Liang] said he'd never seen such a fast paced workshop before!  Students were lovely- they liked doing more than talking, so we mainly stuck to practical stuff.  At least two students are interested in the internet project - so I am meeting them with Daniel tomorrow afternoon.  I have also agreed to meet British student who was working there who is about to undertake her MA….might just squeeze in a morning sight sighting…"

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