Second moon…

I’ve been away for two moons now and this one is particularly important.

For agrarian peoples this bright moon, marks the time when they judge their chance of surviving the coming months. Success or failure, indicated by the fruits and meats now carefully stowed in grannary and cave.

In our ‘developed’ society, we pay scant attention… far beneath the gaze of those who consider themselves most important, harvest is at it’s peak – fruits are being gathered in and the price of bread or tea will be set by the results.

And I find (thanks to Helen our patient translator), that our forty chinese cast members are missing this most important Mid-autum Festival: Zhōng qīu jié. She has brought moon cake in for us to share.

Ancient symbol of the moon’s gift.

Here’s her explanation of how this time is traditionally marked in China and by Chinese peoples.
“This day is the day of union… the whole family get together to celebrate at the time of the full moon. There is a lot of food, fruits and drink – wine/grain wine. All generations get together to chat and enjoy beneath the beautiful bright full moon, as children run around with a lampions (paper lanterns) in their hands.
There’s a lot of myths about this festival. My mum tells me one, it’s a love story: ‘A beautiful fae/fairy, Cháng Ér has falling in love with a young mortal man. But the King of heaven discovers her whereabouts and punishes her by banishing her to the Moon… all alone except for a rabbit (yù tù). The shadows you see on the Moon are actually the palace where Cháng Ér stays.’
Each full Moon marks the growing period in the year… the Chinese calendar is based on the Moon. And this moon marks the time that farmers harvest their plants, celebrating it by the Mid-autum festival.

That is why this festival is one of the most important festivals, alongside the Spring Festival ( known by Chinese New Year).”

And for us, as we prepare to offer our ‘Ice Age-Live!’ endeavours to an audience… will this harvest moon prove auspicious?

The moon tethered to our hotel.


Manny has inflatable legs… they do reduce weight, but most importantly – they indicate the movement of flesh, rather than solid form.

They need to be checked regularly however, for as with all such structures, punctures are possible… especially when ‘giving it some’, up and over platforms and while dancing in Manny fashion (peaches is rather embarrassed at her dad’s attempts at being cool).

But there is an answer… a puncture repair kit.

I never expected, when learning how to repair bicycle inner tubes, that the knowledge would come in useful in mammoth surgery.

All mine…

Day off, what to do… nothing, save a little catch up with all the mail I can’t answer when I’m in the mammoth, and dinner.

I find an ‘All you can eat’ Japanese restaurant, sat down at 8 and continued till they closed.

I think they’re now considering changing their promotional policy

First course

Course two

Course three

Course four

Course five


and pudding


Today we ran the first act…

Getting ready to sweat

The attempt had been made before, but all components were either not there of misbehaved like delinquent children. A device would simply say no… and that would be it for 30mins or sometimes more.

Today however, all the children behaved themselves and we ran the first act. Scenes 1 to 13 and it was most enjoyable, both for those watching from the rest benches and those inside these marvellous creations.

Guy congratulated and thanked cast and crew… we have half a show.


Practise bar…

NH Central Station Hotel, Utrecht.
I’m sitting in the bar because the power has gone down on the 17th floor (my floor)… probably due to the twenty five Chinese acrobats in the adjacent rooms, who are cooking their evening noodles on smuggled in electric hobs.
The Internet here, at best slow, has ground to a halt… thanks to the fifteen skater girls, calling their boyfriends on Skype. Average age 21… skating since 5, broken by 25. After… redundant with few options (and I can’t imagine their present boys are going to wait nine months). Re which… the smell of hot young bodies is pretty overpowering… lots of pheromones about, and there are no opening windows (all are sealed to prevent suicides), just recycled air through an inadequate air-conditioning system. The plumbing is struggling too, (noodles or not) so I keep the plug in my bath & sink, as putrefaction wafts out at peak times.
Plus (brace yourselves, here’s the list), the fridge doesn’t work so the milk for my tea goes off. The bed has no support and only cheap polyester pillows. The view outside, is that of a building site… the whole area being redeveloped (to be finished 2015). They’re well into demolition and steel erection, which continues throughout the night… Arc lamps and angle grinders, are a constant beyond inadequate curtains.
And to really top it off… The first cast&crew sickness outbreak manifested today, when Gou Wan (diego’s operator) complained of itching… later diagnosed as chicken pox, which none of the Chinese and most of the skaters have never had… Yet we’ve all been sharing costumes, so it’s only a matter of time.
So tonight, for my sanity… I think I’ll stay in the bar.
“One more bartender, if you please!”

A late night companion

Getting the creative juices flowing…


inspired company

It has become a tradition in this endeavour that we get together at the Sardegna (Italian restaurant) on a Wednesday night. This is when, thanks to the best of juices, we laugh together.

There is something magical about the effect of laughter. To see the frown break, the face to  crease and the stress and tension of the past week simply slip away and be replaced by the child.

The moment needs to be taken… no matter what world you walk in

Mad puppeteer…

Wan Hou is very patient. He listens to me (via translator Helen) attentively, as I go on about motivation, as I make suggestions regarding the character’s hook, discuss archetypes and as we look together at the source material.

I’m certain that Helen moderates some of my rather more colourful illustrations of why & how (as indeed she should), but he still laughs at the appropriate places.

And then I take a look around at this world of puppets we presently inhabit and wonder if this 22yr old Chinese guy considers me sane?


Running scenes…

On decks

Stage manager and crew started officially today. Sound & lighting design began their process. The composers are here supplying updated tracks… and for the first time we had a taste of the character’s actual voices!

We start running scenes together, lots of polish needed, but there’s a shape.

Now we make a show.