Thursday, April 5, 2012
But firstly it's been amazing. The students have been in full-on rehearsal for the remount of Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid. with the first dress rehearsal last Saturday. (photos to follow, it looked amazing!)
I have been using my class time to pick as many things of my To-Do list as possible, using the students as helpers and trying my best to make a lesson out of it, it's been a bit hectic with all the rehearsals, wig fittings, occasional torrential downpours, a bout of sickness from some questionable ice and ultimately, just not enough hours in the day!
The play is looking and moving great, thanks to director Alana Hawley, a graduate of the Festival's Birmingham Conservatory and one-woman energy source. The kids clearly love her and she really tightened up the whole show and challenged the kids to do their best, even when it was difficult for them to hear. It was inspiring to sit in on some rehearsals to watch her work, fine-tuning movement, facial expressions, dance routines and Vicente's back-flips, to get everyone to do their best, even when it repeating it over and over
This is a theatre school after all, so there has been all the drama, tears in the hallway, disagreements, stubbornness and quiet in-fighting you would expect, but as a whole, I have never been around a group of young people that were so supportive of one another, so quick to comfort each other, so eager to learn, and ultimately, so genuinely excited to absorb what you have to teach. Without a trace of the "Too Cool for School" attitude so common in North America. They know this is an opportunity that doesn't just come out of the blue, and pretty well without exception, they are all willing to put themselves out there, in a supportive environment, with the support of one another without fear of reproach or being picked on or teased. (They save all that for me :)
It's very inspiring to be around, despite the heat, crazy deadlines and the fact that I'm spending Holy Week alone doing scenic painting in the sun, I really cannot complain. The whole Es Artes team is a really talented group of individuals and I couldn't ask for more (except a classroom that isn't also a conference room, Yoga studio, rehearsal hall, lunch room, and lecture hall.)
Space has been a real challenge during my time here, Props can essentially be anything, and Salvadorans are loathe to throw anything useful out at the best of times, so I struggle with on over-abundance of stuff and a shocking shortage of places to put it. It would be a shame to lose the Es Artes space but for the project to continue, there needs to be a dedicated class space and performance space, so donate if this project really speaks to you!, the donations really do make it here, and go towards getting the students here from the nearby communities by bus and providing them with two delicious meals a day courtesy of Nina Gloria, from whom I get a cooking lesson every time I walk into the kitchen, and because of whom I carry an extra 5 lbs with me as a souvenir.
Special mention here for Melissa Renaud, who really stokes the fire of the Es Artes engine with her enthusiasm and ability to multi-task constantly, include everyone in discussions that would otherwise be behind closed doors, really put in the overtime hours for the love of the project, yet still be able to shut the laptop, and have fun. We really notice the change in energy level when she's not here!
Also kudos to Koky Miranda, our local connection and man-about-town. Give this guy a raise :) who else can instantly legitimize any business transaction and get you anything you need, from pantyhose to a weekend at the ocean, with just a couple expletive-laced phone calls. Just walking into a business with Koky gets you a 10% discount I swear. He is single-handedly working to replace the US dollar with Ray-Bans as the Salvadoran currency. He has made my time here so much more richer, by being able to transfer, in terms I can understand, a political, socio-economic landscape so vastly different from Canada's, by arranging to get us out there, face-to-face, to shake hands with it and eat sopa de pollo with it. He has arranged some of the most memorable times here and he BBQ's a tasty bull's heart with lime! We're starting a "Bring Koky to Stratford!" fund, so dig deep in your old Ray-Bans and donate! :)
That's all for now, I have about a million photos, which Ill be posting shortly!
Off to drink Fresca and paint!
Monday, March 5, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
Well it’s been almost two weeks now. Looking forward to an early spring if the Groundhogs at home are right. I’m sitting at Lupita’s having an after lunch cappuccino while planning my lesson strategies for Saturday’s group. Also, next we start at Escuala Taller, the trade school. We’ve worked out with them to do a value-added course for the students as their program actually finished at the end of January. They will invite whoever wants to come to stay on for a month and we are going to go in and teach them basic design and technology stuff as it relates to theatre. All of which could become very useful for them in the future in trying to realize their own design ideas.
I’ll be doing physics and applied technology of Lighting and Sound which will include basic electricity and how all of the equipment works and why. I can’t totally speak for Jeremy and Stephanie about Prop-making and Design but the ideas we’ve been meeting about is showing them about basic design concepts and drafting and production techniques to be able to promote creativity and be better able to realize their ideas. I’ll leave it at that for now.
I like the idea of teaching them what ‘design’ means. I came up with the analogy that every day that they get dressed and do their hair, it’s a design choice. And all of these choices, no matter how seemingly insignificant, influence the things they make and do with their skills they’ve been learning at school. I’ve been involved in many discussions before at different conferences about how best to teach theatre design. We’ve never come up with a great answer beyond simply getting a good liberal arts education and then add some drafting skills and techniques on top of that. It’s certainly not that simple but I’m sure many people reading this would agree that being good at drafting doesn’t make you a great artist and just because you can’t draft, doesn’t mean that you can’t create great ideas for sets and costumes etc.
In my world, I am mostly dealing with how to to realize visions. Often I can influence that vision with my own, which is fulfilling too. It’s been interesting watching the kids enjoy learning new ways to see things and start to realize their own visions. It’s also interesting wading through trying to figure out whether certain things that come up are because of culture or just because they are teen-agers. There’s a lot of teen-age stuff, like attention span, but generally, I’m amazed at how intently they listen in my physics class about sound waves vs. Light waves and Atomic theory as it relate to basics of electricity etc.
For the most part, this trip has been great to not have a show dead line to deal with so we can concentrate on theory. I haven’t taught at Ryerson for a couple years now because I’ve been coming here. I’m finding I kind of miss it. Every time I teach I feel like it becomes clearer to me how to teach things. I was explaining to my translator Melvin that mostly I just keep talking until everyone in the rooms goes “Aaaaaggh”. It starts with a couple of students, then you try and explain it another way until a couple more get it. Then you just keep trying until hopefully they all get it. It’s been enjoyable for me to teach the same thing three time in a row. I teach during the week to the full time students and then on Saturday, I condense the week into one class for half of the Saturday students in the morning, then the other half in the afternoon. Now Next week, I will start the course again with the trade school students.
I could go on and on but I’m going back to my cappuccino. It’s an overcast day here and t looks like it might rain. The pace slows down here when the sun is not out. I think a siesta is is order. Eso es todo por ahora. Adios.
Monday, January 30, 2012
The curriculum for this semester includes classes in Design, Props, Sound, Lighting, Technical Direction, Health and Safety, Entrepreneur Studies, Effective Communication, Conflict Resolution and English!!! All of that in one week! Once our wardrobe volunteer arrives in a couple of weeks we will also be finding time for that in the schedule too. Wow!!
The students seem to really be enjoying themselves and I am constantly impressed by their desire to learn. For example, I tried to end English class early by a few minutes on Friday and they were all so upset that we ended up actually staying 20 minutes late so that they could learn something more. Crazy!
I think everyone is adapting well to life in Suchitoto and so far we have only been marked by brief interludes of illness.
So.... onto week two of classes. We will post more pics as soon as possible. And hopefully a video or two of Stephanie's birthday celebrations with the most awesome pinata you have ever seen!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012