Ni Hao! (Hello!) Hannah and Lauren here again! We’re back in Liverpool after an incredible experience on tour with Sutra and the Dance Consortium. We’ve been reflecting on our time and hopefully this write up will provide you with a quick summary (if we can fit it into a blog friendly sized post)!
We began the experience in Cardiff and then moved onto London (you can read our first blog post on the Dance Consortium website), leaving the tour whilst they continued to finish the first phase in Plymouth. The company then returned to the UK to visit Birmingham and Brighton; we then rejoined them for their final week in Salford and Edinburgh.
Hannah’s visit to The Lowry in Salford Quays was her first and it was safe to say she was blown away by the colour scheme choices, especially the amount of purple in the auditorium (everywhere)! As well as having a tour of the building, meeting many people including Front of House and Production, we were lucky enough to have a chat with the very busy man that is David Fry (Head of Theatre Programming). He manages the programming of the Lyric and Quays Theatre particularly concentrating on week long runs and Dance. We learnt a lot about the aspects and issues present in his department, one thing in particular he told us was to be brave with programming choices. Sutra is the perfect example of an original and unusual work that went on to sell out.
After the first performance on Tuesday there was a post-show talk that was chaired by two Dance Ambassadors at The Lowry, one of which was Lauren (one of the scariest experiences of her life)! The curtain went back up after the bows and the stalls were full with people eager to ask questions. The post-show Q&A was well received and these sessions usually prove well with influencing ticket sales, the following Wednesday night was sold out.
Thursday morning we were extremely excited to be up and heading to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh! However, not as excited as The Monks were when we chose to sit amongst them at the back of the coach. This resulted in us downloading a translator app on our phones in an attempt to make conversation for the next 6 hours of this journey.
It was now Lauren’s first visit to Edinburgh and Bixby Tours accompanied her, showing her the sights of the city during our free hours. Similarly to The Lowry we were given a whirlwind tour of The Festival Theatre including an exclusive look at their brand new building housing a revolutionary studio and rehearsal space. We were extremely glad to see the late Paul Iles; famous LIPA lecturer and founder General Manager of the Festival Theatre, has left his legacy in the form of pictures and photographs displayed all around the building.
Another highlight of our time in Edinburgh was our chat with Cerin Richardson, Learning and Participation Manager at The Festival Theatre. We were bombarded and overwhelmed with information about the mass of activities and diversity of audience that she coordinates. Cerin aims to add value to the programming available at the Festival and King’s Theatres in Edinburgh, something she appears to be heavily successful at.
Another thing we also enjoyed was the Kung Fu workshop we participated in (arranged by Cerin) on Saturday Morning. This was lead by the Senior Shaolin Warrior Monk and company member, Huang JiaHao; it was evident that he was a natural born leader. Despite the difficultly with language barriers the ethos of the workshop was well understood. It was a big success and everyone left inspired (plus, like us, with the aches and pains the next day)!
By the end of the tour we had watched Sutra in 4 different venues on 6 different occasions and we loved the performance more every time. The different elements of the Music, Design and Choreography made us appreciate Sutra in depth and in a variety of different ways. We left the tour with new viewpoints, opinions and ideas and an insight into a different culture we previously knew nothing about. This led us to wonder all the things The Monks have received from this experience and how they find the adjustment from tour life to Temple life as Sutra has taken them to over 30 countries. Next stop, Malaysia!
We would like to finish by thanking the Dance Consortium for offering us the incredible opportunity and congratulate everyone involved on a very successful UK tour!
By Hannah Bixby and Lauren Hawke