Staged Adventures in the Orient

July 16, 2010 at 11:33 am (Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Stage) (, , , , , )

Stage manager, Olivia Dermot-Walsh, tells us about the trials, tribulations and thrills of touring overseas…

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We’ve landed! Off the plane and heading for immigration. Everyone is dishevelled and the smokers need cigarettes. We have to go through customs as a group and as soon as we’re free and have collected luggage we charge to the open air for a first look at Hong Kong. As the sliding doors open the heat hits us and we’re drenched in sweat from the colossal humidity and the heat.

The crew ready for the trip...

The crew ready for the trip...

It takes ages for Martin (Deputy Chief Electrician) to come though and we find out that once again he had been held up – this time he was given a “visitor’s visa” instead of a work one and was interviewed while they sorted it out. This happens quite often to the poor chap so everyone laughs a lot.

On the coach to the Hong Kong YMCA

On the coach to the Hong Kong YMCA

Executive arrivals at the YMCA

Executive arrivals at the YMCA

We are ferried to the coach and make the 40 minute drive into mainland Hong Kong. We arrive at 17:15 local time at the hotel. We’re staying at the YMCA and in great oriental style the hotel has a very impressive reception lobby/foyer. Our rooms are bright and spacious with views over the harbour to Hong Kong island.

My two interpreters

My two interpreters

We set off on our first adventure into Hong Kong (also to try and get our body clocks sorted) for beer, food and to celebrate Abi’s (Electrician) birthday. We have a fantastic evening ending with a evening stroll along the waterfront by the venue. The harbour is amazing at night with all the buildings illuminations reflected in the water.


Tuesday morning at 9am Wilky (Steve Wilkins, Technical Manager) is called into the venue to unload the containers. There goes his 12 hour break, poor bloke! The rest of us try and get our bodies to behave as our brains say it’s daytime and our bodies say bedtime. Jet-lag is always funny for the first 3 days and we walk round in a bubble.

Training the new ASM

Training the new ASM

Hong Kong is full of smells, street vendors & bustle. Everyone vies for your attention and I notice how tall I feel at 5′ 7″. Inside the polished air conditioned malls with Gucci, Prada & YSL it feels like another world. I feel under dressed in my flip-flops and shorts. Hong Kong is very mixed metropolis. I love it.

Today is day one of the set build. The crew are call to start at 14:00 hours so I am left to my own devices for a few hours till I start at 19:00. I spend a lovely air-conditioned afternoon in the Hong Kong Cultural Museum and Art Gallery. I have a passion for tea ceramic art and find a wonderful exhibition dedicated to the subject.

I arrive at the venue and find that the stage area is massive – true operatic grandness. There is so much room instead of scene changes we could build complete sets and push one off into the wings, pull the next on and still have room to spare. Truly awesome.

The crew have already built the revolve (the turntable the Jolly Roger spins on) and are laying the sprung dance floor when I arrive. The local crew are very efficient and numerous – there are many more then you’d find in a UK venue. I’m introduced to Agnes, the crew chief, who is lovely, and her Number One, Bo Bo.

With a whole unloading dock to myself I unpack all the props and place the tables out. At 20:00 Wilkie calls a break so that we can all pile out of the venue and watch the famous Hong Kong light show from the water’s edge.

It’s pretty impressive but for us seasoned techies it made us laugh. Then back to work, soon it’s time to finish. Everyone is exhausted but positive.


Day two of the set build. We are all called for 10:00 – another full day of building, focusing and mending. Some of the properties have been trashed in transit, it’s the way it goes! So I spend the whole day with drills, paint, glue gun, burnt fingers and a touch of creativity to polish everything ready for tomorrow’s technical rehearsal.

The rest of the team arrive with the dancers today at 17:15. They won’t be called till 17:30 to cover class and do final props checks/maintenance before the technical rehearsal scheduled for 19:00.


Day three of the build: I sleep in till 13:00 and feel better for it. Jet-lag’s nearly ok. I make my way into the venue via good old Starbucks for coffee and (very) hot Danishes. The technical rehearsal goes really well, the local crew really are amazingly efficient.


Day four of the build & first performance: I call Stage Management for 30mins before stage reset to make sure we ready to go for the dress rehearsal, which goes incredibly smoothly. We have an even smoother opening night!

Jim (Flyman) and I decide to head off the night market after the show but by the time everything is packed up and turned off when we get there. There’s an eerie feeling walking down empty packed up streets that look like they should be full of life. We find an amazing sushi restaurant and have dinner before heading back for sleep.

The Gang

The Gang


Day five, back-stage tour & second the third shows: I arrive at 11:30 and set the stage out for the back-stage tour. They can’t tell me if the group coming to visit is young or old so I have Laura Burges (Assistant Stage Manager) and Jim Hannon (Flyman) as technical support for any difficult questions. When the 50 people arrive they are all mothers with small children so we adapt the tour accordingly. It is great fun to watch them all pile into the small rowing boat as their parents snap away with cameras. Next to meet the Crocodile – five small boys descend on our Old Croc and almost hug it to death.

Later we prepare for two shows and everything is going smoothly until the final Nursery scene change when the local flyman pulls back a curtain revealing the crew building the set. All of the local crew hit the decks leaving our crew holding the heavy flats up, their silent black figures motionless until the star-cloth was brought back down. Everyone was safe, but a disappointed sigh escaped our lips. These things happen – it wouldn’t be live theatre if things always went well.

We get to the turn around and find the stage management team only have a half hour break between shows so everyone if rushing around trying to get food down them. Show 3 goes very well with no hiccups so everyone relieved.


Day six. A very early class 9:30am (!!) then 2 shows (!!!!!!) and a get out (!!!!!!!!!!). We don’t come up for air till 19:00 when Agnes invites us for farewell dinner. Oh Yeah!

The crew's farewell dinner

The crew's farewell dinner

Farewell dinner spread

Farewell dinner spread

We’re now in Macau in a great hotel under a typhoon warning! The sets are calling, have to go…

View of the theatre from the hotel room in Macau

View of the theatre and pool from the hotel room in Macau

Typhoon warning notices

Typhoon warning notices


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