Outside the theatre
Outside the theatre

By 3.00pm the crowds have subsided due the post lunch siesta, apart from a flurry around my pear crumble demonstration. The Stalls are packed away to get ready for Harold’s festival extravaganza.

At 3.30 the children of the village had assembled to put on their costumes for the parade Harold has designed to celebrate the village stakeholder community of farmers, power station workers, foresters, tourists, animals and at 3.45 Xinghai orders the parade to start quarter of an hour early as the crowd is forming a powder keg of kiddy giddiness amongst the old folks houses in the ping fang. So on they march down and round the square and on to the park by the tower blocks where Bryan’s may pole is put to use with a wicker man soundtrack. It’s not quite Pan’s People but the pole is woven and it makes a spectacle that the village flock to see. This is the village doing something for the village and they are clearly pleased that their complex way of life is affirmed for a moment or two.

The parade moves on around the housing blocks, may pole and market stall in tow, through the village streets and on to the theatre steps for the performance and finale.
The school children sing their nature song (all pretty tree hugging twig dance territory, but done with gusto), I give a simple version of a complex problem speech accompanied by the hard nut Chinese harp player, followed by two traditional Chinese dances from the Workers’ Unions Dance Group. The first is a more trad red hanky waving affair but the second is a fantastic swooping 70’s Olympic opening ceremony number with a building and falling orchestral soundtrack. A tough act to follow but Harold in head to toe gold lame shaking his booty to Beyonce, and the Worker Union joining in, does the trick.

Finally the Scottish Country dancing takes us over the line and proves enormously popular. I think if have left anything in the village it will be the legacy of this and we have challenged them to break the world record for the longest strip the willow.

Whilst this is in a way the standard cultural car crash affair and Grizedale Staple (and has many notes of community art, contemporary cross referencing and even welfare state flag waving), the principle is that this instils confidence in the community, an idea that they can do this and more, that what they have is of value and they can control their future. Not over night, but the seed is sewn.

Later that night, after dinner, we are tired out and bit post-festival-down. But we get an invite from the Workers Union for a last supper and head down to the square where they treat us to beer and snails to say thank you for our efforts and to say farewell.

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