Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Safe and Sound and HOTHOTHOT!

Reports Michael McGuigan after one week in Yangon, Myanmar: 

"Safe and Sound and HOTHOTHOT ... where the weather is sunny and HOT, the people are friendly and the food is edible. 

After traveling for some 23 hours, we were pretty brain dead for the first two days; the second day beginning our work with the local actors. We have a three hour rehearsal in the morning, 8 - 11, and another at 4 - 7. In between, we've been heading back to the comfortable but not lavish hotel for lunch and reading / research / nap. 

The four Burmese actors (all male) speak fairly good English, which tends to speed up the creative process considerably. We are working on two potential new shows: one for the kids (which we will start performing in the third week to 7 or 8 schools / community centers) and the other a "mainstage" production based on the theme of "waiting", which I am told the Burmese are very acquainted with. They wait for buses, passports, electricity, permission, tea... It's a challenging topic to portray on stage as it can tend to be rather boring. But we like a challenge. I can't say more about it because it's all still in an embryonic stage, but our morale is high and the camaraderie superb. 

We heard about the near-bombing in Times Square-- the hotel does get CNN and the BBC news (I am told that whenever news of Myanmar is discussed, there can be a switch to commercials if the topic is not flattering). A new Myanmar election season is supposed to be announced today -- elections do not necessarily mean you can vote for your favorite candidate. There has been some localized violence throughout the country leading up to that, but you wouldn't know it from the day to day activity here around Yangon. People work, food is prepared, and very very occasionally theatre is created." 

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