China Report: Final Performance

January 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm (General Information, Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Shanghai Grand Theatre's auditorium - photo: Andy Waddington

Class was held on stage today and an hour later than originally scheduled to give the company more time to find those final shopping bargains and for last minute sightseeing.

The final performance was a triumph with “Bravo” being called from all corners of the theatre. Over the two performances we have played to 87% capacity which is a very pleasing result and we have been told by the management that we are welcome back at the Shanghai Grand Theatre anytime!!

The final get out is underway and extra crew have been called to help get the work finished as quickly as possible. This is the last time we will work with our Touring Chinese Lighting Crew who have been fantastic and worked tirelessly to get the performances on. This has been a very significant change to previous tours where we relied solely on local theatre staff. We would have been hard pressed to get the production on in some venues without their support.

The company are now all looking forward to the journey home and although the coach is at 8.30am, we are sure everyone will be there on time!!

The last few days have been a mix of emotions for everyone. The excitement of being in Shanghai and all that it brings, but at the same time the knowledge that we are going home and wishing that time would move more speedily towards the flight home. The reaction to the final performance (and the reaction throughout the tour) has made it all worthwhile

All of the company have been outstanding and really have shown what being part of NBT is about. They have adapted and coped with every situation that we have faced with a smile and have done excellent performances on each occasion.

Special mention must be given to the Technical team who worked incredibly hard often in difficult circumstance and coped in the most professional way. Chun-Yen our bi-lingual Stage Manager, has been invaluable and ran the shows from the corner via walky talky and managed to cue the show whilst dealing with any translation needs.

A final special mention must go to Andy Waddington who has headed up the Technical team throughout but has also managed the tour since we left Beijing.

We hope the coach journey to the airport is straightforward tomorrow – fingers crossed but watch this space just in case!!

Mark Skipper
Chief Executive

PS: As always – a final challenge!! The wrong size containers have been sent. Not the high cubes that the set was shipped from the UK in but only 8 foot high. The shipping company were adamant that these are the same ones as we had shipped here but we know differently. It will be tight but we think it should all fit.

Get out - photo: Andy Waddington

Get out - photo: Andy Waddington

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China Report: First Performance in Shanghai

January 3, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Chiaki prepares for her last performance - photo: Neil G Jarman

The fit up continued through the night. The LX department finished rigging the lights at 4am and returned to the hotel for a few hours sleep before returning to focus the lights at 10am. The Stage department worked through until 7am and took a break until1.30pm with only a few minor masking issues to be resolved. The Shanghai in house crew were really helpful and said “Yes” to everything.

Class yesterday in the theatre studio had been a little hazardous with a lino like a skating rink. So during the night we took rolls of our lino up the unending flights of stairs to 5th floor.

Class and Technical rehearsal went well and our technical departments did a remarkable job in getting the production ready in such a minimal fit up time.

Tonight was Chiaki Nagao’s “final” final performance prior to retirement. The Company gave an excellent performance and the Shanghai orchestra were very good with a very attentive audience and good numbers in attendance. It was a fitting final performance for Chiaki. Young, our Promoter was delighted and the Grand Theatre said it was the best thing they have had. Tonight was the final sponsored evening of the tour this time hosted by Leeds Met University and as well as local guests was attended by NBT staff and dancers not appearing in tonight’s performance.

One more performance to go and then home!!

Chiaki in performance - photo: Neil G Jarman

Chiaki in performance - photo: Neil G Jarman

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China Report: Almost Free Day in Shanghai

January 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm (Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Downtown Shanghai - photo: Neil G Jarman

Today was pretty uneventful. The Technical department were free until 11pm when they started their marathon shift fitting the production into the theatre in time for tomorrow’s first performance. At the time of writing (2am local time) all was going to schedule with the fit up. The dancers had class this morning and by lunchtime were free for the rest of the day to continue the tourist trail.

Old Shanghai - photo: Neil G Jarman

View from the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower - photo: Neil G Jarman

In the temple of the Jade Buddha - photo: Neil G Jarman

In the temple of the Jade Buddha - photo: Neil G Jarman

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China Report: Yangzhou to Shanghai

January 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm (General Information, Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Oriental Pearl TV Tower - photo: Neil G Jarman

After the tedious coach journeys experienced over the last few weeks everybody was expecting the worse this morning. The journey from Yangzhou to Shanghai was estimated to take 5 hours. Everybody was on the coach by 9.55am ahead of the 10am scheduled departure. The well established check out routine is working like clockwork now after 5 cities/hotels.

The first stop of the day was at 11.50am at Wuxi services and then surprisingly we arrived at the Lansheng hotel in Shanghai at 1.45pm – only 3 hours and 50 minutes including stop!! The roads en route were deserted and Shanghai was not as busy as usual. The check in was a bit slow as the hotel had not taken into account our request for smoking and non-smoking rooms but in the scheme of things this was a small detail and everyone was checked in by 2.15pm.

The hotel is lovely and although a change from the hotel we had originally agreed everyone was really happy and looking forward to the final four nights of the tour. The only slight issue is that the hotel is quite a distance from the City centre and also a 30 to 40 minute drive to the Grand Theatre. We have found in most cities on the tour that they are reluctant to put us in hotels that are in walking distance from the theatres which really would make life a lot easier. It was great in Beijing being in the same building. The distance from the centre did not deter most people from venturing out and discovering the local area and also catching cabs to the centre. Last heard, there was some of our company on the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower on their 2nd bottle of Champagne!!

Andy Waddington with Steve Wilkins and Rich Godfrey departed the hotel at 10.30pm and arrived at the theatre to unload the containers on to the side of stage as agreed. This would mean that we would gain time by laying it all out in the right places on stage and be able to attack with gusto the fit up tomorrow night. Richard Clayderman is performing tomorrow evening. On arrival we found that they did not want us to unload onto stage and insisted we unload into a dock area. We explained through Flora, our Interpreter, that this was pointless and a waste of time as it would not gain us anything for the extremely tight fit up. Unloading into the dock area and then double handling it tomorrow would mean that we would still be the unload time down. The theatre only had security guards on duty and said that they did not have the key to the one sliding door between where the trailers were and where we needed to put the set. A stand off followed and Young, our Promoter was summoned and came down to the theatre very apologetically and confirmed that this was not what had been agreed. He then phoned the theatre management and local promoter. The local promoter arrived and we again explained that by unloading tonight into the dock area would not help in the fit up and we were not unloading unless it was onto stage. A discussion then took place in Chinese and the outcome was we caught a cab back to the Hotel. This whole discussion took over 2 hours in the freezing cold. The outcome is that we are now getting in at 11pm tomorrow night and unloading straight onto stage. This will then mean our Technical Teams working straight through the night until the end of the performance on 3rd which is far from satisfactory. They have an additional problem in that the container haulage contract finishes tonight but that one is not our problem to resolve. (Our own contractors are responsible for taking the containers out of the theatre and back to the UK)

So what should have been a very simple process became much more of as issue as is so often the case working in China. With the experiences we have had working with the various theatre crews across China we are somewhat nervous about how the fit up will go and we have made it very clear to Young that the show will only happen on time if the crew work our way and allow things to run smoothly. Only time will tell on that one

In the foyer of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower - photo: Neil G Jarman

Motorway service food Chinese style - photo: Andy Waddington

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