Well, we’re into the first performance in Guangzhou and I’ve finally managed to find a spare minute to give you a quick update on what’s been happening here.

Welcome

As I’m sure you’ve been hearing from others, it’s turned out to be quite an eventful week. What with the ‘challenges’ that the technical staff have been facing (the term ‘lost in translation’ doesn’t even come close!), the bitterly cold theatre (despite our desperate pleas all week, they’ve finally decided to switch the heating on this evening for the performance), forged banknotes, dodgy electrics (everytime a plug socket stops working, the theatre maintenance staff begin by stabbing a screwdriver in the holes…) and empty restaurants that still won’t serve us because they’re ‘too busy’, we’ve certainly been kept on our toes!

Yesterday was a free day for the dancers which gave lots of people an opportunity to explore the city. The Learning Department had a sharing of the work they’ve been doing with children and adults in Guangzhou – this group also came along to see the Romeo dress rehearsal this afternoon. There was a lunch to celebrate the opening of Wragge & Co’s new office in Guangzhou, and a reception hosted by Birmingham City Council – both of which Chris [Barron, Chief Executive], David [Bintley, Director], Keith [Longmore, Communications Director] and the board members went along to.

I got an opportunity to catch up on lots of paperwork and also to enjoy a leisurely birthday lunch and dinner – I had a hilarious gift from the Lighting Department, in the form of a very ‘Chinese’ alarm clock. I’ve attached a picture – unfortunately what the photo doesn’t show you is that the Chairman’s arm waves as the second hand goes round!!

Alarm clock

This afternoon, as opening night approached, the theatre suddenly became a hive of activity – walls were painted, ceilings re-plastered, fire escape signs fitted and the legion of cleaners hurredly started cleaning (rather than wandering the corridors with empty ashtrays). The ‘stage door’ which so far this week has been propped open and unattended, suddenly had an airport-style full-body metal detector installed and was manned by a team of 8 uniformed security guards – talk about one extreme to the other! Suffice to say that none of them batted an eyelid whenever the metal detector alarm went off…..

The Chinese attitude to smoking is another interesting thing. Everyone smokes everywhere here – and Chimp [Senior Stage Technician] was highly amused, when having a cigarette outside stage door, he was asked to smoke inside so as not to make the building look unsightly!

(short pause)

I’m back again having seen the dancers who are finished in Act II onto their coach back to the hotel. It’s a 20-minute drive between the hotel and the theatre here so there’s lots of checking people on and off coaches. The distance is shorter in Beijing, and in Shanghai the two buildings are opposite which will make life much easier.

Speaking of the hotel, I’ve included a photo below of the view from hotel window to give you an idea of the Guangzhao skyline (and how densely populated it is), along with a snap of the banner they’ve put up outside the hotel. The shot at the top of the page is of the welcoming signs they’ve put on every landing.

view-from-guangzhao-hotel

guangzhao-hotel-1

Yikes! The show relay has just made a noise akin to the Queen Mary coming into dock, and promptly stopped working – so it looks like we’ll have to guess how the show’s going for the rest of the evening!

Well, I ought to sign off for now. We’ve got a post-show party at the hotel tonight, thrown by Mr Yang the promoter. The Technical Advance Party are off to Beijing tomorrow and then after another performance of Romeo tomorrow evening, we’ve got the get-out and a very early start to Beijing on Sunday morning – we’re leaving at 06:45 and the crew will be coming pretty much straight from the theatre to the airport.

Once we get to Beijing we’ve been invited to by the British Ambassador to a reception at the Embassy on Sunday evening – we’re assuming that there will be Ferrero Rocher aplenty!

Just to prove that it’s not all glamour on an international tour, I’m attaching a picture of Vanda [Hewston, Deputy Head of Wardrobe]’s cunning solution to the lack of plumbing for the washing machine waste:

Dodgy plumbing

I’ve also included a picture below of the LX department’s favourite drink – although I’m assured that it doesn’t taste anything like the name!

I hope you’re all well and that it’s not too cold in Brum – apparently we’re to expect temperatures of -12 in Beijing!

More soon!

Paul [Grist, Company Manager]

Nice drink

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