Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I’m sitting here at Las Puertas having a beer...

...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.


  1. Thanks, Michael. My mia copa (sp) is posted on yesterday's comment area. Elaine

  2. Great to hear from you! Lela