Saturday, 11 April 2015


The last month has been extraordinary! I'll tell you first about China. 

spent the middle of March in Shanghai, working at Wellington International college during a huge arts festival they were hosting. I was there with Round Midnight Theatre delivering workshops on the history of comedy and then helping the students perform two shows in the wonderful theatre space at the college. I had a great time working with and meeting students, teachers and fellow arts workers from all over the world. I was working with years 4,6,9,10 and 11 and performances included subjects as diverse as silent film, pantomime and music hall. The year 11s had the responsibility of hosting the senior school show, and I had a lot of fun helping them to devise solo and duo comedy routines and skits, which included introducing them to some classic comedy like Morecambe and Wise, Julie Walters and French and Saunders. I found it really exciting when they found the clips I'd selected amusing. 

Here's a picture of me and my Round Midnight buddies in the rain. Note Shanghai skyline and smog in the background. (I'm the taller one at the back.) 

It was a pretty frantic 10 days but I did manage to get out and see some of Shanghai. It's a fascinating place, a disconcerting juxtaposition of communism and super modern capitalism (The Samsung building standing proud over People's Square where red flags and soldiers with AK47s line the streets.) The people I encountered were some of the most charming and friendly I've ever met, the hotel staff so keen to serve that I was too embarrassed to correct them when they occasionally brought me slightly not quite what I'd ordered, instead I just said thhhhank you in a silly British way they seemed to enjoy. This became a running joke of the visit, such as when Jose enquired; 

"How'd you get that nice looking cappuccino, Rob?" 
"I asked for a cup of tea." 

Here we are in a very tall building overlooking the famous Pearl Tower. 

This is the view from my hotel bedroom. It's a bridge. 

As well as the city itself, the students, the school and my round midnight friends another wonderful element of the trip was the other arts workers taking part in the festival. These included a TV comedy producer, well regarded stand up and comedy course leader, a writer of superb biographies, a famous Manga artist, a very erudite poet, a children's author and illustrator, an artist and an opera singer. Fascinating people! Fascinating trip! 

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