Well, folks, it’s been quite a month so far, and not in a good way. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d say it’s been craptastic. I won’t bore you with the unpleasant details. Thankfully there are fun times with family and friends to look forward to over the holidays.
New challenges have meant no time for two projects I was looking forward to in November: writing a travel memoir for NaNoWriMo, and launching a professional blog for librarians about transitioning our library here – and my own practice – into the 21st century. I’ll get back to those projects some other time (hopefully before the 21st century is over). Meanwhile there have been a few bright spots.Heading up the plus column is being on the production team for the middle school play. The middle school at ICS doesn’t usually do a full-length show but our teacher-friend Jo had a script she’d been itching to stage, and the school’s 50th anniversary year seemed the ideal time.
The Garbage King is adapted from an award-winning children’s novel by Jo’s friend Elizabeth Laird. It tells the story of a gang of Addis Ababa street kids and a well-to-do runaway; Laird based it on the real life of a former street child that she met here. Our production is the African premiere. Proceeds from the show go to an organization that works with street children.
The drama group is an after-school activity (aka ASA) as opposed to a regular class. As a result, most of the students who auditioned for TGK (our school really goes in for the acronyms) had had no acting experience at all. Pretty ambitious project for a 6-week timeline, but the adults involved were an optimistic group.
The process of putting together this show is an excellent example of the value of arts education to students. It’s been wonderful to see these middle-schoolers overcoming self-consciousness, learning the fundamentals of dialog, movement, and costume while developing as an ensemble. We’re seeing kids with mediocre academic records or “bad attitude” learn extensive speaking parts, internalize complex stage directions, take positive risks, and support each other. On top of that, students have said that participating in this show caused them to look at real Addis street children in a more empathetic way.
Our first performances had a few glitches, but we’re proud of how far the actors have come, and I hope the kids are proud too. Tonight’s the final show and I’m confident they’ll nail it this time.
For the three of us, the production has been a whole-family activity: Andreas co-directed the play (with Jo), designed the set, and is running tech. Alekka led the student set-building and art team and is serving as ASM this weekend. I’ve been assisting the directors and this weekend I’m stage managing our three performances. Kinda makes me want to start a theater.