Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diving Right In

June 16, 2009

When we arrived, Gayatri told us that the many of the kids from yesterday were accepted into the BMC (government funded) schools, which is a great accomplishment.

We taught them the wave as a short energy booster? Little did I know that it is harder to teach kids things that are simple in my mind. They never did catch on to the fact that the wave is caught on as it moves along the circle- they were all doing the wave the whole time- but they were having fun with it, so that’s what counts!

We split up into groups to do nametags. Since most didn’t know how to write their names, I asked them their name by saying “nam!” and then wrote down in English what they said. I was probably brutally incorrect in my hearing and writing, but it was enough for me to be able to communicate with them (see their names and call on them).

We then had them all draw something really important to them. We gave examples like their parents, friends, etc… I was at a loss of how to help the children. The children that couldn’t write, I didn’t want to just draw something and have them copy it. But I guess this is where working as a team comes in, I called the others in to help.
Picture: Juhi helping kids decide what to draw

I went around and told everyone “acha! And teeka!” (meaning good! And ok!) with the hand gestures signifying good that I have already picked up. I was jealous that the others could converse verbally with the kids…

We didn’t have time to discuss the pictures, we tried to hang them on the walls with tape but with the wind blowing the fans made it a problem.

Picture on the left: Some of the drawings

I led them in “follow the leader", and whenever I turned around the kids had to fall to the ground. Juhi mentioned later that she had only described to the kids in a few words, not even the end of the instructions, and that they understood it!

Around and around the pole in the middle of the classroom. I was making a complete fool of myself, and at the end felt so much sweat all over me. But I was having so much fun. And the giggling of the kids gave me extreme energy.
I was being curious, moving EVERY time in a completely different way. Clapping down, up, side. Picking up a shoe, a water bottle and investigating it.

Every time I turned around the kids slammed to the ground with huge smiles on their faces.

Sometimes I would go up to the teacher and the assistant. One time we did this when everyone was imitating being sad and crying and they asked us “why are you crying”?

I felt like a mime. So many people have told me that I must be a mime. This was great practice.I also felt a little like I WAS manjul in all the videos I have seen him interacting with the kids, so that was strange. Again I don’t want to be limited to this strategy- but it works fantastically.

After they were exhausted (one child I think actually was already lying on the ground tired), juhi asked them to lie down to do a madasana, reflection. This is so different than how I usually end activities with kids- but this is fantastic because it leaves them energized in a different way.

Picture: Juhi leading the kids in a silent meditation/reflection

Juhi asked them what they liked from the day. They all mentioned different activities from the day- great!

Then I noticed two girls dancing swing. I told them that I wanted them to teach everyone tomorrow how to dance like that because it was so great, and they agreed to it!

Apparently one girl told juhi that if she didn’t come back the next day to play she would be very sad.

We arrived at the center of the new teacher. The second we walked in, a lot of them shouted “Namaste teacher!” (hello)

It made me feel so good, and conflicted at the same time. While walking over to this center I had voiced that I felt like we needed to decide on one center for the play, and about everyone agreed to the first center because of the teacher enjoying us and also the energy of the kids.

But with this reaction, it was hard to say we will turn our backs to them!

When we did the drawing activity there were some kids who I believe have never held up a pencil before. They were looking at me, blank faced. So we helped them hold the pencil and draw.

Manjul reflection:

I found it hard to add the “performance element” that manjul had suggested we put in.

The others thought that it was really helpful that today we had a written out plan.

I mentioned that I think the new teacher is skeptical of us, which may add our bias to the first class, sand Manjul told us not to compare the two schools and teachers, and to take them as two different experiences, which is a good idea.

He asked us what we wanted from him for this week, I said I wanted to know how to create more of a performance energy with the kids, and the others said something on the same lines.

Manjul taught us some things to start with, which included clapping methods as well as having them act out scenes from their life (i.e. what happens when monsoon hits? Does it flood your house? Act that out!)

I hope to really experiment with the sounds and the clapping, and not just stick the words that manjul mentioned- because it is limitless!

And from that comes the themes for the performances and such.

I mentioned the need and want to concentrate on one class, or decide for sure on two. Everyone is conflicted on this, so we are still open to many different ideas.

Manjul said that he hopes that this group will take all of theatre of relevance even further- even internationally- even at a conference.

I thought of the conference that was held at Brandeis 2 years ago where many theatre activists from around the world sat together to discuss their work- it is already happening!

We also discussed training this upcoming weekend, which will definitely happen but the location is TBA. It will be interesting to go through another training.

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