Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYC09: Sean Richtoff is Blowing Up in China

New York City is a city that lives and breathes. At all times something is going on, and you're destined to be in the middle of it. On my first day it was the hip hop show in the underground. There was also the performance pieces in the park. People shouting at elevators, or screaming at nowhere at all can be common sites. Elmo walks the streets, as do Mickey, Mini, and Freddy Kruger.

Tonight, on Time's Square I walked towards the Army Recruiting center, drawn by Chinese voices projected over loud speakers. The traditional Opera seemed out of place when combined with the videos of soldiers in the field. Not only that, but a crowd was growing with video cameras, and other recording equipment. Something was definitely a foot.

I watched as clips from a Chinese play were performed on three large screens overhanging the streets; I listened as people began talking about the performance.

I was handed a pack of postcards, and bookmarks – as well as a button. Those handing the items out informed me that this was a play being performed in Beijing, China. The theatre company was here in New York City trying to raise awareness, and spread cultural awareness.

Due to my – standing out in a crowd – I was approached by a man with a digital recording device. He asked if he could interview me. Of course he could. While these recordings, and tapings would not be seen in America, I was informed that they were actually quite a big deal in China.

The interviewer asked what I thought of the play, as well as how I felt theatre could be used to raise cultural awareness. Finally he asked my familiarity with the Chinese culture. When he left, a camera man filmed me for a cut shot, coming distressingly – about a half inch – away from my face.

It was at this point I needed to discover how I could see this opera. Finding the director, I asked him for advice. He passed me to another woman, who directed me to the translator. She let me know that if I was in Beijing next year between March 31st and April 5th I would be able to view it at a theatre bordering Tienanmen Square.

She passed me an e-mail I could use to contact her for further information, and then walked away. A moment later I was asked if I could be filmed for an interview. Of course! Again, I was asked about theatre, and the use of the form to communicate with other cultures.

As a drama teacher, who enjoys live theatre, and has more than a passing awareness of Asian Culture I was able to answer the questions quite eloquently with semi-intelligence. What if, however, I did not have this background? Surely not every random passer by would have such awareness. How would they possibly react - - - Ohh... There they were, jumping up and down in front of another camera man screaming “I LOVE NEW YORK!” and thing resembling “WOOOOO!”

And when asked what my name was? Well – I always have my pseudonym ready to go: Sean Richtoff. He's gonna be huge in China!

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