Frank and Jeanmarie, the main characters of “The Dwarf in China”, have taken up a new adventure in the city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. They performed their dwarf show in kindergartens from March 10th until April 10th 2015. Frank & Jeanmarie will write about this period on this blog.
Read bottom posts first to read in chronological order!
Our first Dwarf show took place in a neighborhood of Shengdu called Longquanyi – meaning something like the well of dragons – in the outskirt of this huge town. It was a marvelous experience to start our tour there, both for the remarkable quality of the kindergarten and the green lushy environment of that part of town. The general atmosphere out there felt like a shockwave of relief that went through all the senses of my body. After days of surviving amidst the density of the all urban universe of the rest of Shengdu…In the middle of town,with its never-ending network of roads and buildings ,you are constantly dealing with air pollution. My breathing pattern kept itself as superficial as possible. Apparently my body had automatically chosen to prevent unnecessary consumption of air. Trees were rather rare to be enjoyed, since we never had time to visit one of the parks that seem to be beautiful though. It happens to be so that I find it easier to live without humans then without trees. At the foot of our servicehotel-appartment-towers I had admired an old and skinny willow tree that came out with fresh spring green leaves far ahead of all the other tree bodies I met.When i sent him my grateful attention, I could feel a wave of warm energy in response.
In fact I have seldom been so impressed by the power of spring as in this urban jungle, where despite the difficult conditions, trees were still keeping up with the desire of nature to jump up at the end of winter sleep. Some trees were dead, waiting to be replaced, I guess, by another tree who would give it a try……but most trees were alive and some of them with a remarkable vigorous presence. Most of them supported by four wooden or iron poles to prevent them from falling or maybe to avoid wild parking of cars…Regularly I would see a tree decorated with a golden mantle. I would pass by some of them at the corner of the street, next to our apartment, on my way to a taylor workshop, coming out on the side walk of a relatively quiet street. The lady would be singing softly behind her sowing machine, while I was waiting for my theatre curtains to be finished. I do not know precisely why the Chinese fancy the idea of surrounding the trunk of a tree with shiny gold tissue.They love gold anyway and in the Buddhist temples one can see this colour shining like a sun from afar, but i tend to think also that this is their way of showing their appreciation for the tree. Because it is obvious that the Chinese, loving all that is material have a deep sense of admiration for the mother of all mater-ial.
In Longquanyi my heart would be uplifted in view of all the green power that harmoniously joined in with the still ongoing urbanization. Gardens were all over,trees were blossoming and one could feel how all this beauty added joy and peace to the urban life of this neighborhood. Frank told me that many towns have a neighborhood with this name. Were these places long ago associated with legends of dragons coming to drink water…..or were these names given in the days of old china,when one still knew how to recognize and honor the inner ways of natural life, with its dragon lines? In the days where also in Europe one knew how to respect the natural order of ley lines and what more to adapt the human settlements to the demands and offerings of the life force within the natural realm…Who knows. One day I am going to finally meet someone who still knows the answers to all these questions that fascinate me just as much as the contemporary Chinese shopping tourist seem to be fascinated by the artificial miracles of expensive brands of all kind of props and stuff to buy in the city center.
I went back to that “dragon source” because I needed to take a break from overdosing city stress. When I found a workshop for brooms and baskets I was happy to go back the next day of this show-free weekend. So I could finally find new supply for the dragon food we used in a slapstick to crack open explosions of laughter at the beginning of our Dwarf shows. Walking around in the kashba-like labyrinth of all sorts of old craftmen workshops in that old working class people neighborhood I too delight in sensing the old fashioned pleasures of life in these shopping streets, where the noise of modern publicity was absent and the atmosphere of the people just as happy and relaxed as in the city center, but more authentic to my heart feelings. In an ongoing chaos of food shops, drugstores, traditional healing clinics, welding workshops and what more…..I see little kids playing around, while elderly people are playing mahjong games. Along side the parking places where new cars in beautiful colours line up I observe how boys and girls are walking by enjoying each others company in the general mood of spring..Today the sun has managed to break through the almost permanent layer of smoggy-foggy clouds, with some help of blowing winds that will lower the degree of pollution for a while. I can relax for a while..And I realize that even here, at the outer circle of the urban jungle of Shengdu, the gods of mother nature have managed once more to perform the greatest magic trick of all: springtime.
At half an hour walking distance I can see the first hills rising up from the huge plateau that is surrounded by a wall of mountains that keep the air pollution stagnant. I try to imagine what it would be to walk around there. But time is running out: I need to go back to the metro with my two meter high bundle of “dragon food”.