Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Sometimes, each day is a repetition of every other day, yet I know I am learning and hopefully am teaching too. I love everything about what I am experiencing, including my bug bites and the extreme heat. I love it because I am blessed. Blessed to be given this gift of growth to be able to learn and serve. I am humbled and fulfilled. I will never look at my life the same way again.
In Canada, the arts are a very difficult way to support your life, yet we have so much. Here, the arts are offering a sense of purpose, a new way of thinking and an opportunity to think, grow and discover. It is a chance for these kids to mature in an all accepting manner and to enrich their cultural awareness.
Sunday was our day off and at 7 AM, we piled into a passenger van for the 2 hour drive to the coast. It was worth every cent we spent and an experience I will never forget. El Salvador must be on huge mountain that was pushed up from the ocean millions of years ago by a volcano. It felt like all we did for 2 hours was drive down, down, down to the ocean. The sand is ultra fine black volcanic rock and the beach is lined with palm trees. I expected the water to be warm, but nothing like it was. I have only had cold showers since I got here and it was like floating in the most therapeutic warm salt bath, yet the waves were strong. As the warm waves crashed to shore, I felt my cares drifts away and the heat and the sun covered me as I spent the day swimming, eating, drinking and swimming again. It was too hot to sunbathe and I was covered in a 30 sun block but did manage to get a burn on my lower back. The undertow was tough so we spent the day using our strength to stay standing or jumping and just all round silly fun. Some of us tried boogie boards but I gave it a pass. The food was seafood , Pacific lobsters (lagostinas) and fish (a huge mystery fish) and raw oysters served with lime and course salt . I have refused to try raw oysters all my life although I will eat them cooked (something about wanting to make sure what I am eating is not still alive) but what the heck, I was in El Salvador, how awful could it be? So I ate them. They were fine. Not bad, but still not a total convert. It was more fun just sharing the moment.
We stayed until well after dark. Watching the sun slowly disappear over the horizon of the Pacific was magical. The last glows as the world revolved away from the light offered a quiet moment of calm reflection of the wonders we have around us.
It was a silent 2 hour drive back to Suchitoto, as we all snoozed from the exhausting fun of a day off at the ocean.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
...waiting for everyone for dinner. We started scheduling dinners for the week so we didn’t have to sit around for an hour wondering “what are we doing for dinner tonight?”. Seems a bit silly but very effective.
Funnily enough, the only beer they have in stock tonight is Heineken and Corona. I’m not picky, That’ll do me fine.
I’ve been pretty frustrated today because I don’t know enough Spanish. It’s kind of embarrassing how often we need translators for stuff. I must admit, I do pretty well without one. I probably utilize them the least of anyone. I can get by with my Spanish and get the job done but it’s not about the job/show anymore. It’s about the kids and what we leave with them. I never feel like I’m teaching them enough but that’s the same at home too. I do feel like they are learning a lot but it’s so informal. I think everyone here agrees that tying education to shows is not ideal. I have the same discussions at home at Ryerson and CITT conferences. The conundrum is that while the process of building a show can be a good learning experience, when you add a deadline and sell tickets, there comes a point where you have to get it done. There’s an extra pressure that gets all of us riled up because we want the show to happen. In theory, pedagogically, it doesn’t necessarily need to happen (the show). But here in Suchitoto, I feel we need to keep showing that there’s things’ happening.
Having said that, I’ve been really good with not jumping in and doing it myself. I’ve got a great team again. I taught Josue sound design for the first show and I believe he compiled the music for Bernarda Alba. He has a hip-hop group and does all his own recording so he wasn’t totally new to audio etc. I just walked him through how we build theatre shows back home. This time I just gave him the script and away he went. Then there’s Erik. He was on my crew last time and he will be the head electrician this time. I found a Spanish version of the manual for the Strand 300 console that Centre in The Square in Kitchener (Plug!) donated and Alec brought down. I changed the software to Spanish for him and he’s pretty much just been sitting by himself with the console and the manual and he ends up showing me stuff. The last couple of days I’ve had them soldering SOCA ends and they all work and look good inside. I was quite impressed. We’ll see if I can get him up to speed on organizing the plot and circuiting and stuff. He might also need to run Audio ata the same time so it will be interesting. I’m not really worried about it.
Of the Es Artes students, I’ve got Rene for sound and Marvin for lights. The idea was that they would sort of be the design assistants and shadow the process and do paperwork and stuff. They’re also doing a student exposition in the lobby with things like the history of the play and the author etc. I’ve been teaching them basics of audio (sine waves etc.) and electricity (Ohms Law etc.). After our last formal sort of lesson, they all chuckled and said they learned all this in school before but never paid attention. Now they understand it. Those are always good moments.
Someone commented on one of the blog entries that they’re not reading enough about the war and the people. I’m not sure what they want to hear. I’m not a writer. This Project is not about the war. The people here are people. They have community and art and culture of their own, they just do it without PS3s and Entertainment Tonight on T.V. They feel and laugh and love the same as we do. Their human spirit is refreshing and yet familiar because they all have cell phones like we do.
I am here to help them learn how to support telling their own stories to bigger audiences. And in the process, (and what’s becoming most important to me) try and help them gain the self-confidence to know that their stories are worth telling. It seems to be working so far. Sometimes it seems to be even working in spite of us Gringos.
Later...I’m at home now posting this. There will probably be some typos but I’m putting it out there anyway because it’s been so long between posts. I can edit it tomorrow…..Good night.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Well, the next day I am sitting at my computer after lunch when Erika walks in with a big garbage bag full of something and hands it to me. Inside was a pinata stuffed full of candies! She had gone and got me a pinata so that I could experience it! I hugged her a ton and got pretty weepy! I showed it to Tatiana who was as touched as I was and we both hugged and cried a little. I'm a softie... I know!
So, at the afternoon break Tito and a bunch of the boys took care of hanging it from the mango tree and myself, Loreen, and Tatiana all took a turn at swinging at the pinata. Then the kids all had bananas and ice cream, courtesy of Tatiana and Evelyn, to cap off our fake-birthday celebrations. I will try to post some video next so you can see how terrible we are compared to the fierceness of Tatiana! She has done this before.
Overall it was a lovely little break in the middle of an extremely hot, exhausting afternoon. Muchos Gracias Erika, mi amiga!
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I am going to endeavour in the next couple of days to post a few brief blurbs describing the highlights of our past week. There have been many successes and a bit of strife but we are in a great healthy place now and we are looking forward (although a bit tearily already) to our last 3 weeks here. But more on that later....