In just two weeks, the possibility of doing a corpo show of 15-30 minutes for Sony in Sri Lanka evolved from a surprise showing of my number at a house party to tonight’s sit-down with a Sony producer.
This is all thanks to The Activist, who has been something of my guardian angel in Japan since I met her at the Expo. We have a common connection to the emigrant Japanese diaspora – her grandfather has history in Hawaii and San Francisco around the same time that my family moved to Hawaii. She’s been keeping an eye out for people in her network interested in someone of my experience level with an in Asian policy, international development, political science, and international studies. She’s even gone so far as to generously offer to help cover my ticket back to Japan if I have to leave, but I feel really uncomfortable about accepting such a favor, even though she says it is her company that would pay for it as an investment in a future artist/political activist.
For this reason, she invited me to a party thrown by the most successful Sri Lankan auto importer in Japan for a famous Sri Lankan singer and the Sri Lankan ambassador. Unknown to me, she came with the DVD of my number, and after the concert, she put it into this projector and played my handstand number for the whole party. I was the only non-Sri Lankan there other than her and was shocked at first, but the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Later, she told me that she knew that as a performer I would not be able to do my own publicity well without seeming overbearing, so she decided to just put my money where my mouth was for me… and it worked. That was when the ambassador came to talk to me about this Sony deal.
While Sony has always worked with UNESCO take care of these gigs which are a bit like Sony commercials in developing nations, the ambassador (who was formerly at the UN and also the minister of arts and culture) prefers the more spiritual side that he saw in my number. The gig is supposed to be in September, and it is meant to introduce some new robots. The show’s theme is how spirituality of humans lead to the creation of technology.
So The Activist is working with me right now on preparing our materials because she is friends with the Sony project manager and the ambassador. She’s like the grease that can make this machine work and it was she who told me that what would be helpful would be these letters of recommendation and intent to show people involved in the Sony project.
She knows so many people and I’m learning that you never know who might be interested in something. The more people you can contact, the better the chances of finding some success! Not only because of their interest, but also because of them spreading the word: I’ve heard that the Sri Lankan ambassador is mentioning our work to other Sri Lankan companies visiting Japan. The Activist has been working since then to get all the inside information about the project and what they are looking for so that our proposal fits exactly that when they start looking for potential groups. We’ll be ‘first in line.’
What she’s learned is that there is a Sri Lankan company that wants to help Sony invest in Sri Lanka. in order to do that, they need to have a little event for Sri Lankan investors to advertise all that Sony can offer them. If that event generates enough interest, and Sony is convinced that it can work with these investors and vice-versa, everyone is happy, and this show is meant to be a part of that event. The current option for the show is some Sony robots but some people are not convinced that a robot show will excite Sri Lankan investors, so the idea is that maybe we will do some sort of live show with robots involved.
About a week after that party, I actually had the chance to show my press kit to this company and it went far better than I had hoped. Even without a DVD they say that this is want that for their event in Sri Lanka instead of the robots. Of course, I’ll only believe it when I see it because after all, unlike the robots I was not designed and built by Sony, but at least it means they are open to a new idea…
Once Sony see the sort of work we do, the two companies will decide together what they want and will ask for an official proposal. Still so early to say anything, but things are going better than I imagined, so far.
Interestingly, she is hesitant to contact the Sri Lankan ambassador directly for some reason, but I think we are doing fine with the contacts we already have. The Activist tells me that they are like her own family and that they are already sharing the project idea with lots of other Sri Lankan companies. I’ve asked her to keep me informed about these companies’ expectations, so that I can start imagining a show in my mind. Then, I can suggest various approaches we can take. She has a very strong energy that makes people excited to work together and to make big projects happen!
That brings me to tonight’s meeting which was a big step forward. I finally met the guy from Sony who is managing this show… a very cool guy. I had to make a “lowest budget possible” in terms of artists fees so that they know what we are working with, so I suggested a team of 5 people, a musical director, a director, me, maybe some acrobats from Canada/Europe, and maybe some of the Taiwanese artists. Since the National Theatre really liked the presentation I made for The Rocker I’m using what I learned by preparing that presentation to tailor-make this one.
The major costs are like that of the last gig in Taiwan: fees, plus room, board, and travel, but the point is that it will be a big corporate event with all the major companies in Sri Lanka as potential future investors, and we will be televised all over the country. They are being really perfectionist, and I support that the goal is to maximize production values to make a really good 20-30 minute show.
So I’m feeling positive about the meeting. He is still in the process of trying to find a corporation in Sri Lanka that will be willing to look at it as a full-on investment, which would allow us to earn corpo rates for each show plus rehearsal, room, board, and travel.
Staying in the zen zone.