Strange Tales: Yuyu Wang's Assistant Director Blog #2

News 19 Nov 2019

From magic tricks, martial arts and yoga, to working with puppets and filming special effects, it's been a busy week in the Strange Tales rehearsal room. Assistant director, Yuyu Wang shares all of the goings-on from week 2.

[3 minute read]

The team recording with Bright Side Studios

'We enter these tales in the shadows of night but, hopefully, emerge into the safety of daylight.'

The second week of Strange Tales rehearsals has been full of new discoveries and possibilities. The supernatural world full of mischievous fox spirits, yearning ghosts and shapeshifting creatures has been recreated with unbelievable visual elements.

This is one of the most physically demanding and visually challenging projects I’ve ever worked on. Every day the rehearsals start with a hardcore warm-up routine including yoga, punching, kicking, stretching, push-ups, sit-ups and planks. The cast has been learning new skills every single day such as martial arts, magic tricks, multiple costume changes, working with new puppets while memorising their lines. The cast has been working really hard to present the best characters on stage and practise complicated stage combat, puppetry, and more.

Sketches by the Strange Tales team

Getting the team together

This week we’ve had great sessions with fight advisor Philip Ho to work on thrilling fight sequences, live effects designer Fergus Dunnet to work on breath-taking stage magic, and composer Ruth Chan to learn some beautiful songs. We have had lighting designer James Johnson and sound designer Richard Bell in the room to plan incredible lighting and sound effects. We have also had a great filming session with the video designers from Bright Side Studios to get ready for the projection images. We’ve also benefited so much from having Eleanor White, the literary associate of Traverse Theatre, to get useful dramaturgical feedback. Set and costume designer Karen Tennent has always been around to support and the stage management team has been extremely helpful.

Also this week, the creative community advisor Zhuoer Lin helped create some amazing calligraphy pieces for the show. We had some secret preparations done for costume surprises which we can’t wait to share with audiences when we open.

With all the visual elements coming together, the play looks extraordinarily exciting already.

The Strange Tales team in rehearsals

'Come to these tales properly, grasp the spirit, and they will make you strong and brave.'

Do you want your fortune told? Can we talk to the dead? Do you believe in ghosts? Why are ghosts often deadly beautiful women?

Strange Tales asks urgent important questions through telling stories written in China nearly four hundred years ago. It’s fascinating how relevant these classic stories are in the society we live in now and how universal they still are. Pauline and Ben have adapted the stories in such a clever way that the show could speak to audiences from different cultural backgrounds. In the cold dark Edinburgh winter, we are gathered together to share Strange Tales and connect with the ghosts and fox spirits which might be among us. The magic of theatre brings people together in the same room to have a collective experience with strangers and you leave the theatre with something new and warmth in your heart.

Yuyu Wang, Strange Tales Assistant Director

Yuyu Wang is a London-based theatremaker and creative producer originally from China. She trained at the MFA Advanced Theatre Practice in the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is keen to explore universality through cultural specificity and use art as a force of social change. She is part of the Young Agitators Programme at the Royal Court Theatre 2019/20 and the Emerging Producers Development Programme 2019 supported by the Fringe Society and British Council. She is the artistic director of Cheeky Chin, a London-based collective of theatremakers of East Asian descent.

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