Wednesday, November 10, 2010

China, Days 5 and 6

Day 5, Sunday, October 24, 2010

I woke up early and got a pleasant surprise, it was sunny!

Sunday was long and stressful, and made worse that our theatre was used for a church service that morning. We were told they needed a grand piano and we weren't thrilled about that rolling over our very expensive and damageable Marley floor. Well, we were certainly surprised to show up at the theatre to find a) they weren't done and b) they had loaded a HUGE set up in, took tables from backstage and just set our things on the floor (luckily, nothing was broken) and made the backstage even more chaotic. And of course, took forever to load out.

We started our afternoon rehearsal late but we managed to get everything done that we needed to. The language barrier with the crew is steep, but our translators are a big help, as is our bi-lingual Technical Director, LKL.

We were still missing several elements of the show, but did as well as we could without them.

One thing that is just amazing is that everyone has a cell phone on it and they are on it constantly. I thought American teenagers were bad, but Chinese will put them to shame. Crew, adult chorus, kids - all alike. A chorus member walked offstage in the middle of the evening rehearsal to answer her phone. I'm not kidding. Via the translators, we told them that cell phones are banned from the stage and they must be kept in their dressing rooms or they will be confiscated for the duration of the rehearsal.

I have to say, this isn't the first time I've seen cell phone usage inappropriately during rehearsals, but usually singers are more stealth about it. And properly shamefaced when caught. Usually if someone is expecting an important phone call they will leave word or they will leave their cellphones with someone like company management or stage management.

Another little cultural barrier, albeit an unexpected one.

Day 6, Monday, October 25, 2010


I went for a walk this morning because of the beautiful blue sky. It's still chilly but there's sun… and it's for the second day running. It's looking like we'll have sun for our days off and there is no complaining there. Today will be a long day with flying rehearsal, orchestra run through and orchestra final dress.

Again, I cannot stress enough… Cars are everywhere, there are no traffic rules and they’re awfully fond of a) using their horn and liberally so, and driving wherever they damn please including parking on sidewalks. Police cars don’t use their sirens (we have heard them once) and the military look to be the firefighters… or else they wear dress uniforms all the time. Fascinating. I don’t dare get close enough to take pictures. In many government areas, there is a gate (not very high) and a guard who stands in a plexi box (that only goes up to his shins) and has a little velvet rope in front of him. Kind of like the guards at Buckingham Palace except a little less stony. Also haven’t dared to take their picture either. Yet.

Blocking the Sidewalk

Pedestrians never have the right of way and crossing streets is occasionally like playing Frogger. It is amazing. I hate cars when I am a pedestrian and Beijing endears me to them even less. Plus cars follow their own rules. It’s worse than New York.

Red Cab Driver/Red Cab

Across the street from the theatre is Lucky Street with a bunch of food places that are international. Thai. Japanese. Korean. German. Nashville (read: American), Indian. Italian. KS and I had Italian yesterday, having had enough Chinese/Asian food for awhile.

Four of the children’s chorus cornered me yesterday and asked me in chorus if I was Korean. When I confirmed, they chorused “Anyonghaseo!” I had to tell them that not only did I not speak Chinese, I did not speak Korean. Thankfully their English is good enough.

My being mistaken for Chinese is now a big in-joke now amongst our American group. Amazing. Crew, chorus, etc always try to speak Chinese to me.

Street Cleaners

Asleep on the Job


Grocery Run

Neighboring Building


Chinese Grocery

Don't forget to check out Flickr for more pictures. I'm not even posting a 1/5th of what I've taken on this blog. For once, I'm being wordy.

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