June 24th, 2009- Wednesday
I walked back to the car at 5pm completely frustrated- with the children, Manjul and myself. I mentioned in one of my blogs that script writing was the biggest challenge. Quite wrong! There’s no such thing as the “biggest challenge”! Everything is a challenge! For the first time I GAVE UP! This is very unlike me. Also, I lost my sense of calm which I usually pride in and started to freak out. I sensed that Sriya felt something similar and Zohar seemed lost. I know she wants and can to do a lot. This is HER thing and I really want her to experience this more than ever..but language seemed like such an issue at this point, that for a large part Sriya and I have assumed control while she has started to slowly retreat. This was not the intention.
Anyhow, the start of the day, we reached early at Sriya’s house, started to write a script. We were doing really well, being creative at the same time real. We discussed it further in the car- had a skeleton and now we had to get the children to give us the dialogue. It all seemed so clear and easy! Little did we know what to expect…We asked Gayatri teacher to teach the little kids a song we were going to start off with while Sriya and I took the older kids aside and gave them a synopsis of their roles in the play. Then the commotion.. some didn’t agree with their roles, but didn’t have a preference. Some smaller kids wanted a major role, but didn’t accept anything else offered. The first scene required the children to go to sleep. ALL they had to do was lie down .. but it took me a good 15 minutes to get them to be in their spots. (All this time Sriya and Zohar were trying to entertain the children by making invitations for the play) Once they FINALLY got into their spots, the mother and father had to exchange some dialogues. The great thing was that they were amazing and came up with their own dialogues. The mother (actor: Siama) whispered in my ear that she was actually starting to feel the dialogues as she was saying them- that they were coming from her heart! This was the highlight of my day..However, soon enough Saima wasn’t feeling as confident any more so she started to give up. While I was trying to give her a mini- pep talk, I lost the father who ran away to make an invitation card with the smaller kids and refused to come back. The kids who were sleeping all this time, were getting antsy as well. Two of the boys started to fight with each other.. I was losing it.. all control…didn’t know what to do…
Somehow we managed to get a few rehearsals of the first scene, and then Ganagadhar and Devi (from AID Mumbai) came in and watched us for a while. Gangadhar’s presence made the children nervous and they didn’t want to act. At that point some of them were hungry so we decided to let them off for break - much needed for me to gather my thoughts and rethink my strategy. We waited for a while, talked to Devi. Then in an informal setting started to talk to the lead actors and made them do some mini- scenes with their own dialogue..they did it really well. Excited again, we gathered all the students ..didn’t work..too distracted..did the 1..2…clapping thing (the only think that works to keep them quiet) and getting into a circle. Tried to perform the song learned in the morning..they forgot it. The clapping wasn’t in order, they repeated every word I said..it was cute, but really not helping our purpose. Tried to get back into performance mode..lost some of my actors who wanted to play more but when I tried to replace them, they kept running back…lost control again…this time of myself. I yelled at them to get into the ‘sitting in school format’ asked them to close their eyes and reflect on what they achieved in the day and if they were happy with it. Again explained clearly the reason for this play. Gave them a lot of courage and instilled hope.. they listened quietly and paid attention. I was really happy. They got up, tried the play again…same routine.. lost control..gave up..asked Zohar and Sriya if we could call it an early day.
Driving home from this frustrating day, I felt like I was ready for our meeting with Manjul. I wanted to let out the fact that all we did over the weekend wasn’t really working. We have the confidence in US, but still don’t know how to work with the children!!! At this point I felt like it was the kids versus us.. that we couldn’t work together. There were a LOT of thoughts going through my mind, my brain swirling as I once again looked into Manjul’s eyes. I let it out..vented. Felt good, but still needed direction. The meeting went on for 3 hours. There was a lot of questioning and understanding..I was determined to not feel the sense of calm that he’s so good at transferring until I was sure of wanting to feel it. Didn’t want to admit it- Manjul was right. There was something completely wrong with the level of negativity since Monday and I didn’t see it. Instead of letting ourselves remain with the kids, we are trying to hard to get them to reach OUR expectations. Then we were getting attached to those expectations. I still have a few questions unanswered, but for the most part I know what I want to do tomorrow. Lets see how it works out.