Anna Lukaszewicz reports back from our recent Producers Breakfast in Edinburgh
“As all the major Edinburgh festivals have already come to an end, it is time to review Visiting Arts’ contribution to the city’s cultural offer, which is our annual Producers’ Breakfast. Held traditionally at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and generously supported by Creative Scotland, this year’s edition attracted over 150 guests from various professional cultural backgrounds, both from the UK and overseas. Like in previous years, we met for the morning networking by coffee and pastries, followed by discussion with our international guests. This year, however, to improve the format of the event, we decided to make several changes in the programme.
The major difference, suggested by our partners from Creative Scotland, was introducing a new form of in-conversation discussion with our speaker that, unlike before, was inspired by a single art piece instead of a generic theme. Stephen Earnhart, the director of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle was speaking to Julie Ellen about the process of adapting and completing his play, having its world premiere during the Edinburgh International Festival. Starting from the point when he found the inspiration in Haruki Murakami’s novels, Stephen led us through the stages of creating a theatrical adaptation of this best-selling Japanese story and the inevitable cultural and linguistic crossovers he encountered during his work. Working within American-Japanese team and running workshops in both countries, Stephen found himself struggling with the whole cycle of linguistic translation and culturally opposite attitudes towards professional relationships and personal expression. The problem of addressing Murakami’s essential Japanese sensibility by an American director also emerged in the process. However, the question of this adequateness disappears when looking at Murakami’s “universal , intense loneliness and isolation” of his characters living in large cities, that is mutual for all of us, regardless of cultural background, as Stephen puts it. Undoubtedly, and clearly remarked by Julie Ellen, the play’s most distinctive feature is the use of various media to reflect the dream-like atmosphere of the story. The line between dream and reality vanishes on the stage, where casual objects become real characters and real people turn into simple wooden puppets.
We received hugely positive response to the new format and the conversation itself. Many of our guests also attended the CCP seminar on European funding for culture, taking place straight after the breakfast. As VA’s Director, Yvette Vaughan Jones, emphasised in her welcome address to the audience, the global changes we are currently witnessing, that are led by people and reflected by artists, also need to find relevant reflection in the work of Visiting Arts. In the following year we want to focus on the ground-breaking impact of social media and new streams of global communication in culture. Producers’ Breakfast is also changing and we hope you will welcome even more improvements in the Breakfast’s future editions.”