Saturday, June 13, 2009

Week One Recap

Welcome to class, ladies and gentlemen


Just got back from lunch after a walk in the 108 degree midday heat. After kicking off the Birks and cranking up some Radiohead (Hail To the Thief, for the curious) I decided that a sweltering Saturday afternoon would be a great time to update the world at large on the exploits of our exceedingly talented acting crew. It's been a while since we last connected; Josiah and I are proud to report...

The Good Samaritan Players are officially off and running!

One week of preliminary improv and playwriting classes under the belt and we're feelin' pretty good. We had an average of 10-12 students show up each day this week which is not too shabby considering the school is on holiday after what I am told was a very grueling period of government-mandated testing.

Ours is the only class going on at this point and attendance was more or less voluntary as the buses were not running to the slums this week. Despite not having all 20 students who initially expressed interest, we were still able to make significant strides. The kids learned some classic tongue twisters and warm-up games like Zip-Zap-Zop, Bitty Bitty Bop, and Big Booty (re-named Big Fruity for cultural sensitivity's sake) before progressing into more challenging exercises.

Thursday's game of Big Fruity

Friday's Final Three in a blistering round of Zip-Zap-Zop (L to R: Asim, Sikender, Harish)

The story-building exercises, derived from Viola Spolin's Improvisation for the Theatre, are designed to encourage commitment to action and physicality, team play, observation and listening to your partner. Using a variety of 2 to 5 person exercises, we introduced to them the concept of CROW (Character/Relationship/Objective/Where) as the basis for improvised scenes. So far the kids have retained this acronym masterfully in class discussions; next week we'll put it on its feet.

Two shots from the surprisingly difficult game "What Are You Doing?"

Noushad and Palak

Gajanand and Mumtah

We have been slowly integrating homework into the class. On Friday the students brought in favorite fictional stories as well as anecdotes from their own life in which they identified the elements of CROW and the conflicts that stood in the way of achieving their objective. The stories we heard were outstanding: from learning to cook, family disputes, and dealing with temptation, the students who participated really took the assignment to heart and amazed Josiah and I with their attention to detail. We hope to have video of these responses up on the site soon.

Audience responding to a particularly entertaining "Bus Stop" scene

The students made a great deal of progress this week and I even learned a few Hindi phrases. Our hope is that, no matter what the numbers turn out to be, we will have consistent and punctual attendance from a core group of 12-15 students so we are not constantly repeating concepts. The goal by the end of the session is to have the students writing and performing their own work through improvisation and collaboration. We have some amazing talent and enthusiasm in this class. Every second spent in their midst is a blessing; I can't wait to see what next week has in store!

Please keep Josiah, myself, and the children in your thoughts and prayers.

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  1. Thank you so much for posting these...I keep missing Josiah's calls...and with no way to return the calls, this is a second best way to keep in touch. Thanks for the daily details...but also for the update on what you're listening to, and reading.

  2. Oh my goodness, you guys! This is the stuff that greatness is made of. Those students look like they're having a blast. I'm keeping you in my thoughts often. So proud of you both!!!

  3. Oh my gosh, you guys! This is great stuff. Those students look like they are having a blast! I'm keeping you in my thoughts often. So proud of both you guys!!!

  4. Cool - I'm suitably impressed! But what's the food like? Indian TV? Live music? Theatre?