a YMCA destroyed by the Japanese

The Japanese knew all the strategic buildings (even those underground) because they'd been selling concrete to the US military on Corrigedor as early as 1905.

"I have a job to do"

Our 72-year old tour guide on our catamaran to Corregidor asked God what to do with the rest of his life, and he realized that he had lived in the time of US occupation and WWII. He said, "I have a job to do," to tell people about his nation and it's connection to WWII.

"We speak American," he said in light of US colonization in 1898 after 300 years of Spaniish control. They didn't gain their independence until after WWII.

He said the Spanish legacy is religion. They are the only Catholic nation in Asia. He said the US legacy is language...and Coka-Cola.

Outdoor aerobics

Manila, the Philippines.

Performing in McArthur's Theatre

Corrigedor, the Philippines.

Back from Beijing

From Beijing '08

I'm now in Hong Kong, and Joyce and Ava are safely back in New York. We had an AMAZING time.

We had our tickets ripped up just before we stepped onto the plane. Before we totally freaked out they printed new boarding passes, which put us in first class! Hurrah! That came in seriously handy as we waited on the tarmac in Guangzhou, where I'd run a race when I was in high school. There was a typhoon ripping through Hong Kong, so what could we do but enjoy the extra services. We did pray that I could make my performance and screening of Olympic Hero in China: The Eric Liddell Story, and that prayer was answered. I told the audience that night that the Lord clearly had something for them to hear since he calmed the storm just in time.

Here's my China album: Beijing '08

We Are Ready

This was the theme song for the countdown to the Olympics, and the same composer is working on the soundtrack for our upcoming docudrama about Eric Liddell.

Out of 90,000 seats

The fellow sitting in front of me at the Beijing Olympics was working his iPhone, so I asked him how it was working in China. He said great, and we struck up a conversation. We asked each other where the other was from, and when he heard I was from Southern Oregon he said that his friend's wife had gone to high school in that area. She was at the concession stand, but when she returned I expected her to tell me she'd graduated from one of the bigger schools in the area. Turns out, she graduated from mine: Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon. She had graduated three years behind me, and she had seen my brother, Bob, at her brother, Carl Leeser's wedding three months earlier.

In a nation of 1.2 billion people, a city of 15 million and a stadium with 90,000 seats it was a blessing to make such a connection.

It had been arranged for me to perform in the Olympic Village for some athletes that day, but the night before a dignitary flew to Beijing unexpectedly and needed the pass I was going to use. This meeting felt like a gift and totally took the sting out of the disappointment!

Moving to NYC

I'm often asked for advice from young actors about moving to New York City. In today's New York Times there's an article about the process: Finding Your First Apartment.

Here are some other pieces of advice:

Sign up at Manhattan Plaza now. It offers subsidized housing for those who make at least 50% of their income from the performing arts. Joyce and I were on the list for 10 years before getting in. Don't worry if you don't make half of your income from the arts now. They won't ask you to prove it until you work your way pretty far up on the list. For me it was four years.

There are often apartment and roommate leads in Redeemer Presbyterian Church's Classifieds.

I recommend you leave your car behind and use Zipcar.

My main piece of advice is to find a great church home. Without one your chances of staying true to the Lord and your convictions will be greatly challenged in NYC or any major city...or anywhere.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church has an Art's Ministry.

Actors InC (ActorsInChrist.com) is a great fellowship that meets Monday nights (the dark night for most theatres). They offer free acting workshops, and they've even been known to offer free headshot sessions. It's not really a church since they don't have a pastor and sermons, but they do open and close with prayer and have a Bible study. It's a great place to get connected with other Christian artists. I spoke on a panel they hosted, which is available online.

Our church, Westchester Chapel, is just outside the city, but Joyce and I have been reverse commuting since 1998 because it's such a great (and quite artistically minded) family.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you know of a great fellowship I've left out, please post a comment below and leave a link.

Olympic Gold Medalist

We ran into Marlene Velthaus, whose swim relay won gold for the Netherlands.

On our day at the Bird's Nest Stadium we sat two rows behind Dutch fans. We told them congratulations because we'd watched their team win gold in water polo while getting ready to leave early that morning. They informed us that the game had actually been played the day before. So not only did the CCTVs (China has I think seven state-run channels) show the Olympics on practically every channel, they showed them practically around the clock.

Long Corridor

This hallway at the Summer Palace in Beijing is about a half a mile long.

Can we have a picture with you?

Our guide said the mother of these girls asked if she could take a picture of them with Joyce and Ava.

More photos online

From Hong Kong '08

We've posted more photos from Hong Kong and Macao: Hong Kong '08

In the countryside

Tonight we're a little over an hour away from the thick crowds of downtown Hong Kong. Tomorrow we prep for what's to come.

Touring Macao

Macao was settled by Portuguese, so in addition to Portugese on most signs there is also a very European feel to much of the architecture. I'll post more photos when I can get online with my laptop. This was posted from my Treo.

MasterWorks Macao

Last night, after our presentation, we visited Charmaine Hunter at The Venetian. It's the largest resort of its kind in the world. It's on an island south of Macao, and it has Venice in miniature in its mall area.

Charmaine said how much she missed MWF ( http://MasterWorksFestival.org ) this year and how it grounds her.

Charmaine, in recounting MWF '08, I forgot to tell you that Steve Rooks choreographed a Tango as a part of the theatre department's production of Tartuffe. It was hilarious (as was the plan)!

Soon after arriving here Charmaine was promoted to a position in which she hires and trains performers for all the Sands properties in Macao (which are quite numerous). We're Hoping for continued stamina for her!

More Filipinos

The event went well last night, and our outreach to Filipinos in this region continued, as many in the hosting group were from the north of the Philippines.

Heading for Macao

We're now way out in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor and we have strong cell signal, so I'll report that we're well on our way to Macao now.

Tonight we're going to present our documentary, Olympic Hero in China: The Story of Eric Liddell, and afterward I'll speak.


We heard that Hong Kong has the busiest harbor and densest population on earth. We thought Singapore held the first record and Manhattan (though not NYC) the second, so don't quote us.

We're not overly concerned as we take a ferry to a nearby beach.

The CA of YMCA

Chuck Allison, director of several YMCAs here in Hong Kong, introduced himself to the kids of the sports camp as the CA of the YMCA!

Opening Day

From Hong Kong '08

On opening day of the Olympics I performed Beyond the Chariots for a sports camp for the YMCA.

A profound evening

On the second night of the Olympics I performed Beyond the Chariots here in Hong Kong. Afterward H. K. Cheng (far right) told what Eric Liddell was like as one of his instructors at the Tientsin Anglo-Chinese College and Rev. Jim Hudson Taylor, great grandson of Hudson Taylor (next to his wife, Leone) told how Eric Liddell helped him and other kids in the Japanese internment camp in Weihsien, China.

Standing in the center are Chuck Allison, director of several YMCAs here in Hong Kong, and our friend Steve Wible, who's been a great connector for us here.
From Hong Kong '08

I've posted more photos to our album, including shots from our time on the streets of Hong Kong with our Filipino friends: click here.

Dim Sum at The Peninsula

a door closed, a Way opened

When I was here in Hong Kong in 2002 we noticed large groups of Filipinos sitting on the ground in public squares. We found out that they are live-in help, so they have no place else to go on a Sunday, their one day off. Our hearts were moved to reach them somehow.

Yesterday I found out that my speaking engagements in the two morning services were cancelled. We were disappointed, but over breakfast with the director of the Hong Kong YMCAs, he told us...we should perform for the Filipinos on the public squares!
So we went to the Filipino fellowship and told them what the director had said and asked if they had any ideas. Turns out the teacher of the fellowship had been Hoping for a surprise. So I performed "The People J Knew". There was a woman there for the first time, and she decided she wanted to Know J! Yay! Then we had lunch with the fellowship. 

Fortified with Filipino fare, we went to the streets, where I performed "The People J Knew" in four different locations.

We had such a wonderful time!

Filipino friends, on 24 August I'll be back to perform my play (www.RichDrama.com/BeyondTheChariots) and then teach you some dramas we can do on the streets! See you then!
Filled with Hope,
Rich and Joyce

Note from August 27, 2020:

We did return and teach them dramas they performed in Tagalog on the streets in the same four neighborhoods! This event inspired them to go to the streets once a month and give gifts to those who have birthdays and invite them to church. One of the women even had the sketch we created in Tagalog performed at her wedding! 

I was telling this story at the Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines, and one of the students said that she was on the streets of Hong Kong in 2002, when I was praying for the Filipinos. She said she was struggling with what to do with God, and there she sat in seminary, six years later! 

The Games are Open

I'm looking out my window at Hong Kong's nightly light show and at the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics. Joyce, who's getting ready to fly here, said they're not showing it live. So, if you read this before it begins in your time zone, you really must see it! It's breathtaking. Literally thousands of performers in synchronicity telling the history of China. It includes the largest fireworks show in history. The colors, the lights, the spectacle (13 months of rehearsals, 50,000 costumes) is going to be in the world's memory until heaven and earth pass away.

As you watch, may it prompt your heart to Hope for all the Father's best for these amazing people.

An Olympic day!

This afternoon I performed Beyond the Chariots after the closing ceremonies of a YMCA sports camp. Then I joined Amor (far right) and his associates to record voices for a curriculum project. I did a number of kid voices that were, ironically, about the same age as the students for whom I'd performed. So I had 170 examples in my mind's eye.

Amor directed the documentary about Eric Liddell, and he will direct me as Eric when we film the dramatizations in the fall: http://RichDrama.com/Olympics

Now, after some dim sum, I'm going to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics...on TV.

Survived the typhoon

Yes, I'm safe, and the typhoon cancelled my first engagement, which actually helped me adjust to this time zone in a bit more leisurely fashion. I was doing fine all day, and then at 8pm it hit me and lo, I was dead to the world. That's about the time I would have been engaged in conversation after my presentation. Whew!

Filled with Hope,

On Aug 6, 2008, at 7:46 PM, Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Olympic Hero in China: The Eric Liddell Story":

Rich, I just saw on the news about the tropical storm hitting Hong Kong. Are you safe?


Posted by Anonymous to The Swingles' Dramatic Developments at 7:46 PM

Olympic Hero in China: The Eric Liddell Story

From Hong Kong '08

Though our dramatizations won't be completed until the fall due to
the difficulty of film permits during and immediately after the
Olympics, Good News Communication completed our documentary about Eric Liddell.

I'm staying at the YMCA of Hong Kong, where I'll perform my play
about him Friday and Saturday and answer questions in the role of
Eric Liddell on Sunday morning for ECCHK. The
documentary is playing on a continuous loop in the lobby. I stood
there the solid 45 minutes, captivated. They've done such a
tremendous job putting it all together. It is truly geared to reach
the Chinese people.

That's not smog

From Hong Kong '08

A typhoon hit this area just before I landed, so it's sort of working its way to calm this morning.

I've zoomed into Hong Kong

From Hong Kong '08

I'm keeping a photo album.

No window seat this time

From Hong Kong '08

Our flight was oversold, so I was thrilled to just get a seat. Since I only took this one shot from an emergency door I decided to repost the note and photo below from the last trip here in January 2007...

Now the sun's coming up over Russia. Besides the lack of technology, this missing shortcut is why I couldn't fly straight to China on my last visit in 1986. I ran a cross-country race in Guangzhou, China. To get there we flew south from Medford, OR, to L.A. to Anchorage to Seoul to Hong Kong. From there we took a train to Guangzhou. Back then this picture would have been the product of high altitude espionage over Soviet air space. Now their generous use of their sky is shaving hours and hours off our travel time. Now it only takes 15.

En route to Asia

I'm starting this note on the bus to Newark Airport where I'll take off for four to seven nations over the next 36 days.

MasterWorks was tremendous! You can see reports from our amazing month at http://RichDrama.com/NewsBlog (Archives for June and July).

The short time in between has been a blur as I've been catching up from a month away, settling into our miraculous new abode (http://RichDrama.com/MP) prepping for this trip and working on an important writing assignment.

So here we go!

We're bringing the story of Eric Liddell, the first person born in China to win an Olympic gold medal, to the people of Asia before, during and after the Beijing Olympics.

Most of the itinerary is at http://RichDrama.com/Itinerary, and the three unknown nations are Taiwan, Japan and Singapore. We're still waiting to hear back.

Among the highlights are seeing the documentary that I helped write and for which I set up a number of interviews. We're still hoping for more funding to come in before we begin filming the dramatizations in which I'll play Eric Liddell. Find out more at http://RichDrama.com/Olympics. Then I'll perform the play between the closing ceremony of a sports camp and before the opening ceremonies of the Olympics at 08/08/08, 8:08:08. The next night Jim Hudson Taylor will tell of his remembrances of Eric Liddell when they were interned together during World War II.

Some of our performances are in nations where it's unrealistic for venues to even cover expenses, so if you'd like to help us invest in the people of Asia with a tax-deductible gift visit http://RichDrama.com/Olympics.

I'm finishing this note while I wait for my flight which has been delayed four hours. That puts me into the Hong Kong Airport after 11:00pm. I wasn't expecting that when I agreed to speak and perform at a luncheon the next day at noon (midnight my time) and again that night at 6pm (6am my time). We're Hoping for Stamina! The good news is that they just gave me my seat assignment. They were oversold, so knowing I actually have a seat is a relief!

Thanks so much for Hoping with us!
Rich & Joyce Swingle

Performing in Hong Kong

I'll be performing in Hong Kong next week.  Here's the flyer...

Come celebrate the spirit of the Olympics with former 1924 Olympic gold medal champion, Eric Liddell. Come and see what life in China was like after the Olympics for Eric Liddell. Come join us and our special out of town guest for an evening of entertainment. Don't miss this magnificent off-broadway performance. It is dinner theatre at ECC! Bring a friend, your family.

When: Saturday, August 9th, 2008
Where: 3/F South Tower, YMCA, 41 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Time: dinner buffet @ 6:30pm
Cost: Adult $200 / Children (ages 5-12) $100.

Tickets are on sale now!

Note: simulated gun shot will be fired during performance 


There are a few spaces left for the dinner event, please contact Jennifer Lui  at 2723-4777 or Jennifer@ecchk.org to reserve tickets.

As for Sunday, there are two services held at 9:30am and 11:30am at the 4/F assembly hall of the YMCA, the same building as the Friday and Saturday events.

Running the Race in China

A couple of articles have come out in the British press about China's interest in Eric Liddell right now on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. They are focusing on the newest biography to be written and translated to Chinese, Running the Race. There's one from The Glasgow Herald that isn't online yet, but the Telegraph reports, "Eric Liddell's story to set Chinese hearts racing."