I am sitting here, needing to leave in five hours to get to the airport.  Madness.  I finally did get a chance to do that hike, and it was perhaps the highlight of the trip.  Walking out, watching the humpback whales leap out of the water right next to the horizon, watching dolphins jump over each other in perfect synchronicity, watching the waves crash over the volcanic rocks below me.  Stopping here and there to explore tidepools or caves.  Having to steel myself to cross a bridge consisting of a single timber precariously balanced over a chasm.  Seeing wild albatrosses feeding their young; chicks the size of their parents.  Walking on the only native and protected sand dune environment on the island out to the skinny westernmost point of the island where you can stand on a small jetty of volcanic rock and have the waves breaking on both sides of you.  Sitting there at the edge of the world with the oldest of the major Hawaiian islands crouching on the horizon under a blanket of clouds, I am surprised to find that I have been sitting not 5 meters away from a member of the endangered monk seal population.

Formerly numbering about 50, now growing in population to around 500 or 1000.  I am illegally close to him.  If I am caught, I will face a fine and prison time.  But there is no one around for miles, so I relax and converse with him in silence.  He has been attacked by a shark.  A tiger shark by the size and the shape of the bites.  He is missing a pectoral flipper, but seems to have taken it in stride.

This is the most remarkable beach… the sand is not sand at all, but bone-white coral shards, smoothed into round, palm-sized pebbles that are rough enough to keep from sliding over each other when I walk on them.  They hurt my feet; remind me of Taiwanese foot massages.  I also see a giant sea slug.  The older brother of the two I tried to rescue earlier in the trip.  After an hour of sitting there, seeing this place as hard as I can, I head back, scanning the darker lava for other monk seals.  I am not even surprised to find another one there, just on the other side of the rock that my shark-bitten friend was lounging on.  The third monk seal of the trip, the fourth of my life.  I body surf on Makaha Beach on the way home, knowing full well that there is a great white shark out there today, preying on the dolphins and seals that I have been communing with all afternoon.  He won’t bother me here, though, I think.  And he didn’t.

A man made blow-hole, glass on the ground, the way these mountains look after all this rain…  It is impossible to describe, and infinitely frustrating that way.  The whole trip has been that way a little.  Other stuff happened too, Hanauma Bay, dinner with my uncle, a trip to an American club, my last ever goodbye to The Contortionist, bookworm-infested paperbacks.  All impossible to explain in writing, I know, but these little journalings have been my humble attempts to capture some of this month-long journey abroad to my home.

The Rocker asked me to prepare a budget for him my participation in the show in Taiwan.  I’m uncomfortable discussing money matters with friends, so I erred on the side of business.

I tried to give fees based on what I would ask of any other organization who is interested in working with me, except for the performance fees, which  kept at the “artistic rate” throughout, and for the workshop rates which I kept lower as well.

All calculations also were done assuming that the come on top of room, transportation costs, and a per diem when staying in Taiwan.

Basically, I benchmarked myself to a USD $52,000 annual salary – that gives a weekly rate of USD 1,000 for the bigger jobs.

For the “artistic rate” I chose the lower end of what my friends have told me that they earn on a for-show basis with smaller, more artistic circus companies – about USD 120.

For the development work I’ve done I went with about 5x the US federal minimum wage, or USD 15 per hour.

Including my USD 200 expenses to date, I quoted him a fee of USD 9,300 for my work on the show itself.

For the second budget, the budget of the festival, I have figured the following:

I quoted USD 300 per week for part time work from April to October and then added artistic show rates for the shows that I would be MCing and performing in and fees for each master class I would be teaching and each workshop for the general public.

The total there came to another USD 8,200, or, a total of about USD 17,500 for 5 months of work.

Judging from The Rocker’s initial estimates and the amount of work we are talking about, this lump sum seems very fair to me.  Of course, I have not counted any of the work that I have done on the side for preproduction of a Japan or US tour; that we can work out once (if?) we know that we have sold the show.

I’m also starting to prepare a budget for the invited acts based on my initial conversation with recent graduates.

This is of interest because as I work on a rough-draft schedule for the festival, I find that we are ground-acrobat- and clown-heavy and lacking a bit on the aerial arts.  Beefing up the cabaret with aerial stuff might be a good tactic, in my opinion, but we need to ensure that there is enough space in the budget for, say, 5 of these artists.  If we run into trouble, we could try the approach of offering what we can to a lot of good people and just seeing who is willing to come for that price.

I’m just waiting for The Rocker to send me a DVD of all the acts he has booked/is thinking of booking to help me with the scheduling, to understand who can go where, who might have a cabaret number, etc.  It will also allow me to cut a trailer for my contacts in Japan.

My contact at the SAT seems shy to get in contact with the national theater for whatever reason, so I’m offering to act as a liaison between this contact and the SAT.  This will free The Rocker’s hands from that aspect of pre-production, and will keep the SAT happy by reducing “fuzziness” and the amount of guesswork and effort on their part.  Once the ball gets rolling, I am sure that we can step out of the process, but until then, I am anxious to keep forward momentum on their involvement — if the SAT is involved with the show we are much more attractive from the point of view of potential partners in Japan.  Additionally, given the fact that the SAT has been successful in winning a lot of Quebec arts grants and that they are really interested in making a first appearance in Japan, I anticipate that if they are involved, they will support us a lot in our efforts to tour over there, from both an artistic and financial standpoint.

I know that The Rocker wants me to focus more on the acrobatic and programmation side of the festival, but my interest in the SAT angle is more from the point of view of a future in Japan.  An investment in a potential Japanese tour.

I leave for Japan in just a few hours.  Looking forward to it, actually, but I’m sure I will be missing this vacation soon enough!

Things are rolling forwards!

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