The Chinese Theatre Contradiction Continued
On my visit to China in October, I experienced many wonderful things and many contradictory things. I guess you could say that I am still absorbing them, as the abundance of experience was so overwhelming in China. Had it not been for the difficult things I felt about the society, I might not have liked it as much. It is the struggle in life that keeps us improving, learning new things and seeking for happiness. In the Chinese people, you could see that they have had a vigorous training in the field of “struggle”, in the country where the word lazy has not much use. Except, when it comes to foreigners of course. With huge precision the Chinese learn to do one or a few things really well, just so that they could do it so efficiently in a multitude of ways that the performance stands out of the crowd. Standing out after all, is probably one of the biggest parts that is in the struggle. But the definition of “standing out”, is much different from the western sense of the word.
In Belgium for example, one stands out by being an individual and doing things in a new way that attracts the crowd. After all, doing things differently is something to be proud of.. even sometimes up to the point that great results are not that necessary. Why the western world has shaped in this way, is all thanks to individualism. The ego, that wants to be better than others, conquer and even at times to destroy.
You would think that in a nation with such a huge population as China, people would be more egoistic. But sense the individual mindset is not that strong, they can never even start to compare to their western-minded neighbours. One must think of the Chinese as a collective society, that is the very first lesson in understand the people, their culture and why everything has ended up as it is today.
So while the struggle to survive does make people to become better than others, it is believed that a group working together is absolutely essential in achieving that. And probably one of the best examples I could think of in China is the Chaoyang Theatre venue in Beijing. While I am not saying that this is a perfect unity and collaboration within the company that the acrobatic show is based on, it still carries those traditional Chinese values that make it a collective effort. Obviously there are a lot to say about management in China, which definitely has it’s pros and cons, there is equally a lot to say about the people that work there with collective pride.
As with a lot of theatre productions in China, this one also boasts a huge stage crew, with hundreds of performers that have trained, together, and perform without error in unity. If one person trips or falls during the acrobatic performance, it is sure downfall for the rest of the group. There is a sense of respect within the acrobatic troupe, that can be almost smelled from the air. This I believe, is the single biggest reasons why acrobatics are so highly developed and talented that they are in the country. Had it not been for the respect for the group, there would have been a mental battle that is popular in Europe. Perhaps the Chinese “mental battle”, is against the management which is something far reached and not realistic to concentrate on. What is reality to them is the immediate success of work, of coming together to do the same thing over and over again. Making sure that whatever job is assigned to you is done with perfection.
If it wouldn’t have been for the show at Chaoyang Theatre, I probably would not realised this in such huge effect. So for those interested about how collective can China truly be.. interestingly enough, I would recommend going to see the show on your visit to Beijing.
It left me with almost an unrealistic mindset, how the impossible can become possible when people stick together and work as one. It’s a question of belief, and while the Chinese might not be a religious folk they have strong values in an intermediate circle of family, friends and work colleagues.