Cultural Collaboration - Caucasian Chalk Circle

A lot has been said about the "cultural circle" inherent in Black Swan Theatre's collaborative new production "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" - a Chinese fable, adapted by a European playwright, performed by Australian actors, under direction by a Chinese director. 

It also offers great potential as a kind of 'blueprint' for collaboration and co-operation between Australia and China in other areas - within the 'shared language' of theatre, a lot would have been learned about how to best mesh or connect two different cultures. It would offer great, useful insight to others, Chinese or West Australian, also seeking to form bonds and work together effectively. A commercial or governmental connection might have different objectives or rules to theatre, but the cultural aspect of international co-operation in any sector is always crucial. International business theory recognises this. The arts may offer a very fertile way to do it. 

It was collaboration clearly visible on stage - Beijing opera style masks and robes, sets and movements, combined with very "local" accents, dialogue and music - musician Clint Bracknell expertly putting Brecht's verse to a laconic Australian folk style, live on stage. A highlight was Geoff Kelso's completely larrikin Judge Azdak dispensing justice with gestures and movement completely Chinese, but a manner and turn of phrase that reminded me of Bob Hawke when he's had a few two many at the races (or America's Cup)! It had me thinking - amongst the laughter - about the kinds of similarities that might exist between what two very different cultures.

According to Dr Wang Xiaoying (of the National Theatre of China, housed in the now well know "giant egg" building in Beijing), it is probably the first step in ongoing collaboration with WA's state theatre company. The opportunity is also there for a wider benefit.