There were a few things in End of April, Beginning of May that I found somehow similar to the working experiences in a blackbox theatre. It may sound absurd, but it is very real in my body. Firs day is the high in getting into the theatre and get to immerse yourself into the real space, second day is the adjustment for everything that doesn’t meet your expectations, third day are the harsh time between technicians, directors, and performers, fourth day are the busy catch-up with all the delayed schedules, and, the fatigue that finally started to build in your body. Fifth day the illness usually get worse, sixth day I probably can’t care much about the sickness, even if it’s getting worse. Last day is the best. I may be sick to death, but it’s going to be over very soon.
Even if I may be in the theatre working seven days as a stage manager instead of a performer, to perform 7 days in a row, that is, to be in the same role for seven days, is extremely similar.
It’s the magic number of seven. Seven is a very social constructed number. Of course it has something to do with religion. But most importantly it has something to do with the modern life that is hugely affected by our working schedule.
I’m a research student and I Taiwanese, both signifies the possibility in defying the seven-day work/rest rules. But in Australia I’ve learned that if it’s Friday (such as today), if it’s well passed 5pm, don’t expect anyone to answer your email. Don’t even bother to write any emails. The only place that has ever replied my email in the weekend are the insurance companies I signed up with as an international student. They are also the companies that doesn’t put you on hold for 30..no, 45 minutes just for one 40-dollar bill. Besides that, you don’t get much on the weekend.
7-day is also the possible number for taking leave. Of course, once again, this is very much an Australian thing. I’ve worked in the academia for two years and according to the regulation I was supposed to have vacation time, which never happened. After that I worked in the film company and we all used what’s app for communication which meant that I’m basically working 24/7.
To live in Australia, facing the sometimes inefficient (in my eyes) communication, envying the labour rights the Aussis have, isn’t a very easy thing.
But I’m too close to whining and too far from reflections on the project.
Back to the point, it’s the social constructed working schedule and the fact that Clinton is likely to take 7-day leave, that made End of April, Beginning of May possible. Of course my status as a research student who’s not in the completion stage helps as well. If I’m in completion I would have some trouble in not attending seminars for sure. I’m taking classes based on interests in dance and the kindness of the dance department. I wonder if they’ll still have me back after being absent for three whole weeks. I dread to know. But anyway, you see, 7 is a magic number.
7 days, signifies something. It’s not only the spiritual possibility in the 7 (I don’t even know how spiritual 7 might be). It’s the fact that this number is deeply interwoven in our daily lives that matters to me. It’s also the fact that to get one production in the blackbox theatre, unless you own the space, otherwise the max you can do is to get in there in 7 days.
And on that aspect, a site-specific performing for 7 days in a row, may be very similar to a single performing project in door.
I still remembered I caught a cold after the 5th day in the theatre. The air-conditioning is killing. There were only one or two hour break between rehearsals and performances. And when there were two performances in one day, if there’s no sun in the noon, life felt very miserable.
It’s also the mindset that I have to get everything ready in these seven days that is totally similar to End of April…If I did not make something on that particular week, nothing would remain.
Among all the friends who came, there was only one friend who knew me before he knew Clinton. And he knew Clinton soon after he met me for the Hong Kong protest in Melbourne last year.
This magic number of seven, it consists of the days that you can ask for leave, it consists of the days that I can skip class. It consists of the days that my friends may have major assignments to do. But most importantly it consists of the basic element in putting up something performative both indoor or outdoor.
If I’m doing repertoire I’m sure it would be a total different story. I’ve only had chance to work in the smaller project that didn’t have a chance to become a repertoire. And I’ve only worked part-time or on a volunteer basis that I didn’t jump from one project to the other.
It is the utter fact that neither Clinton nor I were making our livings on performances that made this project very important for us. But it also meant that, no matter how hard it was to work with every element in it, there was still a sense of vacation-ness in it. Even if I was actually working between projects and study, I knew that I didn’t really need to push myself in reading two more paragraphs of Attali or Certeau. I did feel extremely anxious in not getting enough reading done, but after End of April I didn’t progress too much (partially because I was really sick).
The magic number of seven also reminds me of all the ordinary things that I would like to do, or have prepared myself to face, on the laundry, on the different deadlines in my school life, on the different deadlines for my other projects. It would be great if I could really take it as a vacation, but even I focused only on this one project, I would still need clean pants to wear at one point anyway.
The most important thing, in the project, besides all the performances that I’ve done with everyone, was the fact that, life still went on, no matter how tired I felt, how hard it was to travel between the city and the suburb, or the fact that I really wanted to sleep but I had to proofread for my Taiwanese project, or the sheer two-hour time differences that pushed my sleeping life to an extreme that I was still working after 12am.
It’s just part of life.
There were elements that I would really like to simplify for a performance project. But it’s not really an ideal world. The best I could do was to suck it up and pat my own shoulder in all those solitary moments when I was working very hard before and after the performances.
There’s no need bragging or over-emphasise the trifles in life.
But it is with all the trifles that I feel a little bit more humble towards the world.
Also, of course, it is interesting in finding connections between all the dots that I find commonly taken that I would have to reflect on it at a later time, such as the magic power of number 7.