Category Archives: 04.無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)-Chapter 4- Venue Preparation -蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

04.無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)-Chapter 4- Venue Preparation -蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering-Chapter 4- Venue Preparation -蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

《無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering 180條》

蔡荣章著Author:Rong-tsang Tsai

ISBN 978-957-9690-08-9 “无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering 180” ,First edition: 1999.9, Second edition: 2010.9.《无我茶会180条》,1999.9第一版,2010.9第二版.台北陆羽茶艺股份有限公司.2012.05.20修订版-English Translator : Katherine Yip,英语翻译:叶德明

Chapter 4 Venue Preparation

25.     Creating ‘Venue Layout Plan’

For Sans-self Tea Gatherings with 50 or more participants, it is advisable to prepare a ‘venue layout plan’ for seating arrangement (including position of the performers during music appreciation; position of the presenters if there are briefings for the public; and the position of the registration counter, the audio console and amplifiers, etc. ) after visiting the venue. This layout plan could be posted at the registration counter as a ‘seating plan’ for the convenience of the participants on the day of the gathering.

A venue layout plan is basically a floor plan drawn to scale of the actual venue, denoting the ‘seat’, or the space for each participant (i.e. 160cm x (80cm + 40cm), of which 40cm is left between any two persons as walkway; in the event of two participants sitting next to each other to save space, the clearing on their left or right will be 20cm), also drawn to scale, and the general overall seating formation of the gathering. For venues with irregular shapes, it may be difficult to plan with just seating dimensions. It would be easier to represent each seat with small pieces of paper to the scale of the actual measurement. They would show the distance between the seats and the walkway. For example, if the actual dimension of 160cm x (80cm + 40cm) is to be represented by a scale of 1:100, each piece of paper representing the seat will have a dimension of 16mm x 12mm. On each side of the width of 12 mm, mark a 2mm gap to represent the walkway (the 2mm clearing on each side of the neighbouring seat will add up to a total width of 4mm). The 8mm in the middle will represent the space for sitting and brewing tea.  Put a“↑”sign at the middle of the ‘seat’ to indicate the direction participants will be facing. If the venue is big enough, walkway could be widened to avoid congestion. With these small pieces of paper, work out the seating arrangement and try to obtain the best possible overall formation. Once confirmed, fix the paper onto the plan with glue and mark with numbers (beginning from the place nearest to the registration counter) (see figure below).

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26. Marking the ‘Seats’

When seated on the floor, each ‘seat’, or space allocated to each participant, is as what we have discussed above. The layout team will be responsible for making the seating arrangement. It will be a bit of a hassle to mark the dimension of each seat on site; as such, a number plate will be placed to mark the ‘centre point’ of ‘the front edge of the cushion’. Each participant just needs to align the centre of the front edge of their cushions with the respective number plates When all are seated, the intended formation will be achieved.

‘The front edge of the cushion’ is defined as 50cm backwards from the front edge of the space allocated to each participant; in between will be the space for tea brewing and the tea tray. The ‘centre point’ refers to midway between the two sides, widthwise, of the seat. The space occupied by the carrier bag on the right could be ignored in this calculation.

27. The Direction for the Placement of Number Plates

With regard to the loop formation of a San-self Tea Gathering, should the placement of number plates go clockwise, or anticlockwise? In theory, it is feasible either way. Having said that, people normally follow the order of the numbers, so if it is agreed that participants are to offer tea to their left, it would be advisable to place the number plates in clockwise direction; if participants are to offer tea to their right, it would be better to go anticlockwise.

28. ‘Forward-facing’ or ‘rear-facing’?

In principle, seating arrangement of San-self Tea Gatherings is to form a loop, regardless of its shape. When one sits facing the centre point, it is described as ‘forward-facing’; on the contrary, in the event of back to back arrangement, those facing away from the centre point are described as ‘rear-facing’.  Forward–facing seating allows participants to have a clear view of the entire gathering, and appreciate the rhythmic flow of movement in brewing and serving tea. To accommodate a large group with two or three concentric loops, some people suggest having the participants of neighbouring loops facing each other – this would mean having people in the outer loop forward-facing, and the people in the inner loop rear-facing.  The downside is, the rear-facing participants will miss some of the actions since they can only see what is going on in certain areas owing to their positions. As such, the forward-facing arrangement is still preferred. There are worries that when participants of different concentric loops are all seated forward-facing, the view of those in the outer loops may be partly blocked by the back and legs of the people in front. Considering that the overall feeling is more important, it may be better to have all seated front-facing, and the distance in between two loops could be increased accordingly to tackle the issue.

When the San-self Tea Gathering takes place in public venues, agreement could be made on the rounds of tea to be offered to lookers-on. For such occasions, some people prefer rear-facing seating – first, relating to the public is possible; second, lookers-on will have a better view of the process of tea brewing. However, this will weaken the atmosphere of the gathering, and may divert people’s attention from the flow of the tea gathering and undermine the overall impression. What they may gather from this experience would be ‘someone offers tea to me’ rather than ‘a special tea gathering is going on’. For these reasons, we would suggest having everyone forward-facing, whether tea is to be offered to lookers-on or not.

Direction in which number plates are placed is important as a guide to ‘seating orientation’. To ensure participants are forward-facing, directions in which the number plates are placed have to guide them to ‘face the centre of the loop’. This guide is even more important in the event of an irregular formation, because it would be difficult for participants in certain areas to make out their seating orientation (see figure below).

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29. What if the tea gatherings are held in public, and there are people passing by?

If the San-self Tea Gatherings are held in public venues with heavy people traffic, there should be ample space around for people passing by. Besides, it is important to mark the seats with eye-catching objects, or the venue with other marking options. Otherwise, the public may just walk right through without even noticing it.

It is against San-self Tea Gathering’s principle of simplicity if people are to be stationed all around to stop others from trespassing. The ideal solution is to build natural barriers by way of venue layout to raise awareness and garner respect of the public. Besides leaving enough space all around and emphasizing the boundaries, seating arrangement could be made in such a way that participants sit closer to each other. Also, try shorten the time in placing number plates, and ensure participants be seated soon after.

For a gathering held in public venue, the most difficult time to control is during venue setup and before all participants have arrived. Members of the organizing team may put on distinct identification tags to differentiate themselves from the public. Besides, time for ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ is also the time when trespassing may occur. It is possible to let the public appreciate the tea ware, provided that care is taken so that no items will be broken or missing

30. Ways to separate participants from lookers-on

When the gatherings are held in public venues, there will always be people looking on and passing by, whether participants are brewing or serving tea themselves, or offering tea to the public. It will be great if the measures mentioned above are good enough to maintain order; otherwise, the organizer may consider roping off or use other ways to mark the venue and remind lookers-on not to enter. However, the rope should not be positioned to high to avoid alienating the others and creating an averse impression that ‘the participants are performing in a cordoned off area’. Hence, the rope is best kept below knee height.

31. Making of number plates (types of number plates)

Before participants begin registering, seats should have been clearly marked by number plates to enable participants to get to their respective places easily after drawing lots. If the floor is leveled, the place is not draughty and there are no outsiders moving around, cardboard is the easiest to work with. If there is a possibility of the cardboard being blown away or accidentally removed, try use non-staining adhesive to fix them onto the floor, or use wooden planks or pebbles, etc, to keep them in place.

If the gathering is held on a lawn, it is advisable to use heavier materials for larger number plates. Meanwhile, if there are souvenirs for participants to take home, seat numbers can be directly marked on these souvenirs.

32. The use of a Seating Plan (How to quickly place the number plates?)

When we discussed venue preparation above, we mentioned the making of a ‘venue layout plan’. This plan will double up as the ‘seating plan’ on the day itself. This will help participants quickly locate their places after drawing lots; it is especially useful for larger San-self Tea Gatherings with over a hundred participants. Some people have raised the idea of ushers; however, this would have gone against the principle of simplicity. As long as the ‘seating plan’ is done and posted where lots are drawn, which is convenient for viewing, participants should have no problem finding their seats. If needs be, make a few copies of the seating plan for larger gatherings.

The seating plan is also a blueprint for members of the layout team to carry out their tasks. For example, for a San-self gathering with 500 participants, the seating plan can be conveniently marked into 10 zones. 10 fellow tea drinkers can be assigned to place number plates, one for each delineated zone.  With their respective bags of number plates, they will proceed to mark the seats. This way, each one has about 50 seats to work on which speed up the process. On top of that, it will be much easier to adjust the distance between any number plates where necessary.

33. How to display the name of the Tea Gathering?

Displaying the name may not be necessary if it is a private San-self Tea Gathering among friends at an agreed location. However, if the gathering is held for a special occasion, such as a wedding, an anniversary or commemoration, it is just appropriate to state clearly the name of the event. To ensure the video captures it, the display should be visible when everyone is seated and brewing tea.

In general, the display should not be placed too high. For a one or two-concentric loop formation, the centre point for the inner loop could be an ideal place to set it up. The name should be written on both sides so that it is visible on photos taken on either side of the display.

34. Setting up Audio Equipment

For large-scale tea gatherings which have ‘post-tea-drinking activities’ with sound, or gatherings with lookers-on to whom the organizers wish to explain the unique way and meaning of San-self Tea Gatherings, audio equipment is required so that everyone present will be able to hear the music or sound at the post-event activities, or the verbal explanation for the public.

Beside volume capacity, the equipment should be set up in such a way that there is no echo interference. Volume should be even throughout the venue, so that the sound will not be so strong that it becomes unbearable to some, but so weak that it becomes inaudible to the others.

35. Positions of the Presenter and Performers

If a presenter is required for making explanation to the public, the person should be stationed where the microphone works the best. Besides, the position should not spoil the overall impression and harmony. One option is for the person to sit or stand behind the participants of the outer loop. Never should the presenter stand right at the middle of the venue.

As for music appreciation after tea drinking, the performers must be positioned among the participants to be seen as part of them. A separate stage is not required. The position will be decided based on a few considerations: firstly, the audio setup; and secondly, the wind direction. Standing against the wind will harm the vocal cord of the singers.

36. How to avoid mixing up the teacups and save queuing time when all participants offer tea to the designated party during ritualistic or memorial San-self Tea Gatherings?

During a San-self Tea Gathering dedicated to a ritualistic or memorial purpose, the first round of tea will be offered to an identified party. For a large group of participants, organize them into groups of about 30 and divide the tea offering place into several spots. This way, the queuing time can be shortened.

To avoid disorder or mixing up the tea cups, a piece of cloth marked with positions of tea cups can be laid at the tea offering place.  Participants will then place their cups accordingly. Furthermore, participants can mark their cups with numbers for easy identification. However, if these numbers vary from their own seat numbers, it could cause confusion and get participants into frenzied number matching.

37. How to control seating if there are not enough seats, or too many empty seats because people do not show up?

To avoid shortage of seats or the presence of too many empty seats, make provision when planning the last seats. One way to do it is to have part of the loop formation curving in to form a ‘dent’, like the letter ‘U’, hence creating extra space to accommodate more people. If less-than-expected people turn up, flatten the ‘dent’ and resume the ‘O’-shaped loop to eliminate extra space.  The personnel in charge of the drawing of lots should be informed of this flexible arrangement and the seat numbers concerned, while working together with other team members to add or take away seats where necessary.

By comparison, it is easier to make seating adjustment for a multi-loop formation, as the number of inner loops could be increased or decreased. Meanwhile, as there are fewer seats in the inner loops, it is easier to make slight adjustment to the distance in between.