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It’s Tuesday 13 January and I have been in China for two weeks now. I arrived in Shanghai on New Year’s Eve after a very comfortable flight from London. I have never seen so many people in one place as the clock struck midnight into 2009. I watched the crowds and fireworks from the terrace of the hotel on Nanjing Road East, the equivalent of London’s Oxford Street. Coaches and cars were caught in the crowds as I watched the swarms of people fifteen hotel floors below me.

The following morning I left the freezing cold weather and arrived in the much warmer Guangzhou. The hotel was very comfortable – I even called down to Keith’s room and said ‘I think I am in the wrong room’! On tour in the UK and staying in a Travelodge hotel I am not used to the class of the room that welcomed me!

So a very comfortable week helped me settle into China and the first night at the theatre. In Guangzhou Miranda Genova and Rebecca Johnson from ITV Central spent two days with the Company documenting the preparations for the first night at the Baiyun International Convention Centre. The seven-minute feature will be aired on Wednesday 14 January at 6pm.

A crazy press conference took place in Guangzhou that was full of local newspapers, TV and radio. Journalists, some with two or three mobile phones each, were walking in and out, sitting and standing, talking and shouting waiting for their time with David [Bintley, Director], Keith [Longmore, Communications Director], Ambra [Vallo, Principal] or César [Morale, Principal]. In Guangzhou Angela [Hughes, Press and PR Manager] arrived with Diane Parkes of the Birmingham Post and Mail. Some of Diane’s features have already run – I am sure you can go to the Post and Mail websites to read them!

[Note from Rob: There’s a full list of links to Diane’s articles available here.]

Before the first night I attended a reception at the Garden Hotel and sat next to Brian Davidson, British Consulate-General Guangzhou. He was very interested in the Company and attended the first night as well as taking one of the tours backstage. I did my best to talk about shoes, costumes and the task of shipping the scenery overseas. Jonathan Payn [Principal] has been a tour guide extraordinaire and helped out with the tours in Guangzhou, teaching guests to sword fight and explaining the dynamics of an international tour in more detail.

Arriving in Beijing and seeing the breath-taking theatre is another highlight of an already exciting experience for me. A reception at the British Ambassadors residence gave me the opportunity to talk to representatives of Birmingham University, British Council and Avantage West Midlands. Another Press Conference followed before first night tonight at ‘The Egg’. I have to dash now to put on my suit!

13 days into 2009 and this Press Officer has enjoyed every day of it!

Simon

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