At home in the City Inn Loft, Tsingtao bottle by my side
Reflecting on a big show in the urban village of Baishizhou
A day that was so good with a relaxed chilled walk around
Coffee, dried fruit, snacks and a great email catch up!
To the workshop/show and arrived in a cityside square with
Many many children, balloons, an energy of celebration
Workshop with 20 engaged adults who hit plastic stools with
And then made up a song about the place which we performed.. yeh
And then the one man band in the lights in front of at least
1200 people from the community - out to enjoy and connect
By relaxing I am able to really focus my working day
Full moon power brings me to a day where for most part I can chill and collect my thoughts.
I walk around the district in the warm sunlight and find a lovely café where I can write emails and think a little. All by myself - so lovely to find this moment of space. The past 3 weeks of travelling have been so full of input (and output) that now to just have a few moments by myself with no demands is very lovely. As I trawl back through emails the multiple agendas of my working life rear their complex heads - the upcoming multi facetted LIGHT UP THE STREETS, the early development of the LANCASHIRE SINGS county youth choir, the funding streams and meetings that sustain More Music development. As I wander around this Arts District I see a gig poster for my show! (And am reminded deeply of Adrian Mitchell's poem "Apeman Gives a Poetry Reading" where he writes about a terrible reading where there are 'no concert posters on the trees'.)
At 3pm Susanna Zhu picks me up and we head to the Baishizhou Urban Village. This is a working peoples area of the massive city which is old style development - 140,000 people live in property owned 'by the village' (1800 people) and a 'management company that is 'the village'. A theatre company called Fat Bird led by artist Yan Chen and an American artist called MaryAnn are starting a 6 month residency called 'Handshake 302' under the umbrella title 'Urban Village Special Forces'.
I arrive in a square with a big permanent stage, loads of people around and a lovely atmosphere. I start to ask questions to try and understand the context of my visit. Who are the community? What are the expectations? What is the event for? Who is my workshop for? And on and on.
I meet the key people including the chief of the village - effectively the man who owns the whole place - and then Mok, Elisa and Wong arrive from Hong Kong. Going well so far. The workshop is to be in public on the stage. The show will be for a lot of people I am told.
I set up on the stage with a set of great red plastic stools to sit on and also play. Who is going to come? Will they play instruments? Of course when they turn up they don’t except 2 guitarists without guitars.
We drum and make up a piece - they all have great rhythm which is a great blessing - and then make up a song about the village
"Jin tian yi qi zhu fu Baishizhou
Lai dao zhe li yi qi wan yin yue
Zhao huan da jia
Da kai dian men
Gong xiang huan le
Fang fei qu qiu”
There is 30 minutes to get sorted for the show and the square is packed. Miraculously my little music group plays great, sings well and the communication to the crowd with Susanna as my translator works really well with everyone joining in with the call and response moments of the song. I strip to do the one man band and do a short show. Very sweaty and hot!
Afterwards at the post show meal around 2 large tables I learn another level about Chinese society - about the sense of home, about what community might mean, about what the role of my work could be in this kind of place. We part as good friends with the desire for future work together. Community Music has sown a seed in this place!