After two travel days, I am back in Shantou, China. My vacation pace in Cambodia no longer applies as I have been thrown back into the mix of things here at the University. Last night, I met Suzanne Chim with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA). We took the overnight train together from Hong Kong/Shenzhen to Shantou. We arrived at seven-ish this morning and immediately got cracking on the set design. She is using a design she made for the HKAPA around six years ago for their production of Pippin. From there, I set out to apply my vision for the show the basic drawings she already had. We spent lunch chatting with the two student set design assistants who will be taking on the task of supporting the creation of the set while Suzanne is in Hong Kong. Suzanne showed off slides (many here on campus don’t know what a traditional slide projector is much less the slides themselves; only art school kids vaguely knew about it from what their professors use to teach on occasion) and technical drawings. She spent the time to teach students about the set design process too. We visited the theater to measure out some things and test the viability of some ideas. It was great to jump back in and know that Suzanne was making such an immediate impact.
Somewhere in between the leaps and bounds the technical side of the production was taking, I found time to begin addressing some other issues left unfinished before break. I met with Liu Da Wei, the music director this morning. He played me a song using some MIDI impliments and I was still questioning its use because of the lack of flexibility for the show. It also sounded really boring. So, I did what I knew best and pressed for live music. Just as we experimented with MIDI, so too are we going to experiment with using live music. I am bringing in our best student drummer and possibly a professional bassist to test playing the score live. While this sounds like the obvious choice, it’s not a done deal because not only does the drummer, bassist, and second piano need to be technically good but also have enough time to rehearse together.
In what seems to be an never-ending quest for a committed choreographer, I was declined today by Lily, a dance teacher, who I hoped would have been the right person to do the dance numbers in the show. I am closely reaching the point of no return where should I not find a dance instructor, I will be dead in the water. A musical without dance? Now that is unimagineable (excepting Les Mis).