Day 2, Thursday, October 21, 2010
Day 2 was my first day at rehearsal. It was an interesting time, reacclimatizing myself to the show, and watching all the progress made by the directing team in the last few days. Our adult and children's chorus seemed quite close in age at first glance, and I was definitely still getting the Chinese spoken at me, much to the amusement of my colleagues. It's turned into the big 'in-joke'. Luckily for us, we have nice translators and a lot of the younger children seem to have some handle on English.
However, this process wasn't without hurdles. Our music is complex and the chorus was struggling with it. Our pianist was technically proficient but it takes a special kind of talent to follow a conductor and accompany a singer. I could never do it. This made an already shortened rehearsal process already challenging.
I also had my first experience with a non-Western toilet, the squat toilet. Not my favorite thing. Thankfully the hotel is equipped with Western-style commodes.
This is akin to camping. Except it flushes. But bring your own toilet paper and don't flush it down the toilet. Also soap isn't universally available so it's major hand sanitizer time.
We went to a nearby hot pot restaurant where there was no English on the menus and the staff knew little english. We also had the added needs of two vegetarians and who also could not have MSG. Needless to say, we ended up with two very interesting mixes of foreign-vegetables and meats. And SUPER spicy to this mild palate. I wish I had gotten a good picture, but the only one I got turned out terribly. Poor BM asked for hers to be spicy and spicy it was. She practically had tears running down her face but I do believe she enjoyed herself.
By the time rehearsals ended, I was kind of done-ish and ready to go home and go to bed.
Day 3, Friday, October 22, 2010
Day 3 had me waking up wondering if my stomach was out of sorts but luckily it turned out that I was simply hungry. Did manage to whack my knee pretty soundly at breakfast. Still not used to the breakfast spread.
Went for a walk with colleagues to a nearby grocery store where we picked up a few snacks and gaped at the horrifying English translations and odd products for sale. Also had another brief glimpse of Beijing life outside the rehearsal room. You've seen the picture for the sex shop from Day 1. What I did not document were the many foot & body massage parlors that we were pretty sure were fronts for brothels. Let me say this, our neighborhood might seem a little run down and shady, but we always felt safe at night. There's something to be said for that.
Our rehearsal did not exactly run as planned due to the musical situation, but we certainly made the best of it. It was already time to load out of the rehearsal space and get things ready to head over to the theatre.
At the theatre, it was a whole different story. They were far behind schedule. This was due to many factors including not having accurate information about what already exists in the lineset schedule and what the house staff were willing or unwilling to move. We already had to alter our technical plan and we were looking at doing it again. I felt for our TD (who is bi-lingual thankfully) and our ATD who were just trying to get things done. Just more challenges for us to overcome. Plus our flying rigs were not even hung due to the fact that our riggers were working on another complex show for the festival.
On a more interesting note, I have gotten a better glimpse at Beijing traffic. They are INSANE drivers around here. Not only do they tailgate and use their horns liberally, they pretty much ignore the rules of the road. The lines on the streets are mere suggestions of which lane to stay in. You can always turn right on red, and unlike in the states, they don't bother to stop before making the turn. Pedestrians NEVER have the right of way. The streets are crammed with cars and buses, and did I mention the bikes, motorized bikes, motorized rickshaws? Crossing the street, even at a crosswalk is akin to playing Frogger.
Also amazing are these bikes (some regular, some motorized) that are piled sky-high with items. This is common and amazing.
We had a pretty amazing meal at the Thai restaurant across the street and went home. Not a moment to soon because we were all done-in at 9pm.
Please please please check out Flickr for way more pictures than I'm including. You'll be missing a lot of my trip to China if you don't check them out!