From Don's Blackberry...
Well 4 days of shows and it is a treat in the state of affairs here.
First - its all about the banquets and leaders. We are feted for the first 3 nights - full audiences overflowing and leaders visiting from all over inner Mongolia and beyond. A number of bankers and business men all getting face time with party chairmen from the district and county. Our producer Ge is at the center of it all.
He gave seminars and had a project in his advocacy on mongolian culture but in the last year took the big leap producing 3 shows for the expo, one film attraction, an outdoor spectacle in hulunbeir and now Golden trees in Erjina - all in less than 8 months!
His team is green but dedicated and sincere. The funding is short and the planning is only on last-minute-leader time.
But the payoff for him seems evident in terms of his pricey position as a leader in the cultural development of the province. I have a wise friend that says whatever they do in China there is an ulterior motive. And there may be - but Ge may also be driven by the same thing as a Broadway investor. Payoff is a long shot - but they love it.
In China the long shot is really long! Really. The public just does not buy tickets for such experience yet. The first 3 shows were all given away to the lingdao and their staff.
The best quote I got was "you touched the party leaders' hearts". And in China that's all you need to be a success. Already they talk about a national tour of a theater version.
But when the show is all for the leaders strange things happen. Most obvious is the 8pm show time. 9pm, 845, 840, swear to god , they should just print tickets that say: "Show time: When The Banquet is Over.".
This should not surprise me as I have had airplanes wait for me in hohhut when our meetings ran late. Its just a call from one son of a revolutionary to another!
It sounds bizarre but I have come to think of it as investor perks! And the underlying assumption is that there are no individual ticket buyers so what's the harm!
Tonight - the day after National day the week holiday is in full swing and the most adventurous have found there way to ejina! And holy cow some bought tickets! About 50 or so. Ge arrives , sees the small crowd, postpones curtain by 30 min and calls for some ...as we say in NYC...some 'paper.'
A crowd appears and we start the show. The extra 30 minutes was real important backstage - as another local custom was unfolding. Our local star who has 2 songs and the lead horseman were plastered!
The horseman could be cut. The singer? I always said there were many similar elements between the mongols and the american wild west and sure enough I saw another - the bucket of water thrown into the drunks face so he could sing the next song! I think it was in the 1965 season of Bonanza when little luke got sauced! BaYinNaMar got the bucket and sang with the loving support of his fellow actors.
We take it in stride because this show will run for 23 consecutive nights - it may very well be the longest consecutive run in the history of western inner mongolia. I will assume these naturally gifted singers and horsemen never trained for or never willingly accepted such a long sober run!