Parlando: The COC Blog

2/1/2011

New Nixon in China Video, and Where it Came From

First, the video: 

Our newest book club question includes this quote from Margaret MacMillan's book Nixon in China about how image-focused and television-ready the events of the visit were: 

. . . The handshakes, the glasses raised in toasts, the American flag flying in Beijing; Nixon with Mao, Nixon on the Great Wall, at the Forbidden City or in the Great Hall of the People; Mrs. Nixon at a model farm, in a kitchen, kindergarten or factory. The images flowed back to the United States, targeted for prime-time evening television . . . The stage management of the trip was superb, and it was obsessive in its attention to detail. The advance parties had checked out virtually every site Nixon would visit, paced out the steps he might take and planned every camera angle.

All of  the clips you see in this video (set to Nixon's first aria, "News has a kind of mystery") will actually appear on stage in our production of Nixon in China. As you can see in many of the photos, one of the staging's key features is a series of television sets that show, among other things, news footage from Nixon's visit to China in 1972. In this month's issue of Prelude, set designer Allen Moyer describes their place in the production: 

"We knew we wanted some sort of video work in the piece, and as we got further into it we thought 'Why not project the videos right onto the TV screens?' . . . The other interesting thing we discovered was that those who travelled with the President—the entourage—were all provided with movie cameras. For instance H. R. Haldeman (Nixon's chief of staff) had his own movie camera and film, and was encouraged to take as much footage of anything he wished."

The national archives later released all of Haldeman's footage to the public domain, and the creative team for this production took full advantage. 

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (7) / permalink

Empress Dowager (2/2/2011 10:17:00 AM)
This blog is so well done - and useful. Thank you.
Cecily (2/2/2011 10:38:00 AM)
And thank you for commenting! I'm very happy to hear that you like it.
John Kriter (2/2/2011 10:46:00 AM)
Bravo Cecily! It's like watching our entire production in 2 minutes. I love it.
Cecily (2/2/2011 11:01:00 AM)
Thanks John! The video was a lot of fun to make, especially since I had such great music and clips to work with.
John Kriter (2/2/2011 11:48:00 AM)
It really supports James Robinson's idea of the cold, fast moving pace & regimented precision of the chorus in Nixon in China.
Helen Scott (2/4/2011 7:51:00 PM)
I have read the book and watched this video and now am waiting to be thrilled and it looks as though I will be. I have travelled from South America just to see your production, and I think I have made a good decision. Thanks for the creative work.
Cecily (2/7/2011 10:19:00 AM)
Thanks for the compliment, and I hope you enjoyed Saturday's opening. Nixon in China's music really is thrilling.

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001