This residency in the Judith E Wilson drama studio was the continuation of an ongoing relationship between Metis Arts and Grass Stage, a theatre company based in Shanghai. Since 2012 these artists have been collaborating on World Factory, a project exploring the global textile industry and the ways it links the UK and China across the globe and across history.
These two performance companies exist in very different cultural contexts, so the project has taken various shapes in its two locations. The arrival of Zhao Chuan and Wu Meng in Cambridge was an opportunity for them to present video material, informing our understanding of the social, political and economic backdrop to creating theatre in China.
The second phase of the residency was taken up with discussion of the insights thrown up by these discoveries, and their impact upon Metis’ own work. Following this, all five artists put their heads together to brainstorm and develop the UK World Factory project, which is heading for performances in Spring 2015.
The culmination of the residency period was a workshop given by Zhao Chuan and Wu Meng, open to students of the university. They introduced Grass Stage’s methods for devising work from performers’ personal experience, and participants got the chance to create their own miniature World Factory performance piece.
The residency was documented by two Cambridge students, Mareike Zobel and Yu Qui. The following are five sound recordings from the residency:
Representation and Authenticity
How can theatre depict the reality of factory work? Questions of distance, representation and authenticity. A discussion with Zhao Chuan, Zoë Svendsen and Simon Daw.
Politics and Dissidence
What does it mean for theatre to be political? From dissidence to social relations: theatre as a rehearsal of the imagination. Zhao Chuan and Zoë Svendsen discuss. This sound file is in two parts:
Zhao Chuan on China
Shanghai-based theatre director Zhao Chuan talks about his work in the Chinese context.
Wu Meng on Performance
Wu Meng, performance artist and member of the theatre group Grass Stage, gives insights in her work and talks about her understanding of performance. Translated by Zhao Chuan.
Consumerism and Critique
Concluding remarks on consumerism and critique by Zoë Svendsen and Zhao Chuan.