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Open door rehearsal cancelled, partner withdrew (April 2021)

The 'open-door' rehearsal scheduled for 21st, 22nd and 23rd April 2021 (11am – 1pm UK Time) is now cancelled.

The UK digital team began the task of producing digital content since February after the script was approved by the China partners. Digital content creation was scheduled in two phases: phase one to create the historical footage and a 'Shanghai Window' in time for the April Rehearsals. Digital sequences will be created in time for the scheduled August opening.

The historical footage is intended to assist the UK based audience to follow the storyline more effectively. These historical footage was not written down in the script. When they were shown to the China partners, unfortunately, concerns are raised straight away.

What the creative team did not know was that the period of post-industrial transformation with nationwide factory closure and large scaled redundancy has been classified as 'the dark heritage', along with the sensitive topic of Mao Zedong's cultural revolution. The film footage is viewed problematic: one section dwelt too long for comfort on the Cultural Revolution and the highly controversial Model Operas; another section features former vice premier Zhu Rongji with Deng Xiaoping and too much footage of demolition, rather than creation. Our project stumbled on China taboo subjects.

One China parter quickly pulled out, under the direct order of the institution party leader, along with their in-kind contribution of a professional film studio with floor length LED screen and a green screen for 3D filming. This partner's withdraw means we have lost the source of creating a mixed reality performance.

We are most grateful of the unswayed support from Shanghai Yue Opera House and Shanghai Textile Museum. STM reassures us 'we are not a government funded institution but sits under Shanghai Textile Limited, a commercial entity. There is less ideological sensitivity here' - what a relief! However, the proposed series of ‘Open-Door’ rehearsals designed to be ‘live-screened’ at Shanghai Yue Opera House (SYO) and ‘live-streamed’ to stage@leeds is now deemed unsuitable. It is agreed that a small scaled viewing for academic purposes may go ahead.

Further adjustment on historical footage is necessary. The footage was collected by a research team consists of Chinese students under my supervision; they are then passed onto HUMAN for compilation. Details on the intricacies of Chinese political correctness maybe intuitive to Chinese people's eye require explanation for UK creator who has no previous knowledge on China: the section footage of Chairman Mao declaring the formation of the Republic from the Tianamen Square platform in 1949, Chinese flag was inserted below Mao; request has to be made to move the flag to just slightly above Mao. Image of Yueju star performer Yuan Xuefen is required to be highlighted and inserted underneath Mao Zedong - not above Mao - to acknowledge her presence on the day standing not far from Mao Zedong.

Once the historical footage is adjusted and passed further censor checking, performance rehearsal with digital background - mixed reality performance will begin. A new date of 'open-door' rehearsal will be announced in the coming weeks.

Pre-1949 Period

Moa's Era

Market Reform Period

Industrialization and Digitalization

All images screenshot from Project Footage