Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Back to School

Whoosh! Is it the weekend yet? I gave a pretty good impression of the walking dead this morning. And there's a mirror in our lift - no fair!

How can this be? We only went back yesterday, and I'd been in three days through the break with kids rehearsing their assessed performances, so it's not as if I've been in Hawaii for three weeks and rolled in jetlagged. It must be this unnatural business of getting up at 6 in the a.m. Eurgh...

Howsoever, it's been a good couple of days: two new groups of younger students all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Grade 11 GCSE drama students relaxed having finished all GCSE coursework - they're on revision leave for the rest of their subjects from the end of next week - IB Theatre Arts students' admin done and coursework despatched today - they've got an exam on Thursday and they start their study leave next week. Meanwhile the Grade 10 GCSE students are hyper because they're on stage with original devised work next week, and thinking about costumes, lighting, set - maybe a bit more rehearsal....?...

I let the Grade 11s chill last period yesterday - they worked so hard for their performance exams just before the break - Sophocles & Wilde! - and dragged them up to wardrobe for a major sort-out this morning. Major progress. Good.

Really interesting project with the IB1s (1st year of an A-Level equivalent course). We're doing Kabuki as a World Theatre tradition, and they're going to perform an abridged kabuki comedy, Shibaraku (English translation), late next month, so they've been researching their own costumes, getting fabric samples and talking to tailors. Today was about wigs: we don't have a budget for gorgeous black-haired wigs, but kabuki is highly stylised and you just can't do it without the wigs to balance the costumes - so they will be making their own. Miiiiss?! Uhuh.

Of course, this means I've got to make a couple too, as models for those who are not at all craft-minded and will therefore need back-up if they're struggling. Habibi will be thrilled - papier mâché and foam rubber all over the apartment again. Still, it won't be as bad as when we did Pinocchia (female lead), which required eight nightmarish donkey heads, or Arabian Nights (wallpaper paste dripping all over the balcony as the Roc head and various other things dried on their balloons - much more slowly than expected because of unseasonal humidity. At least it was Ramadan so Habibi couldn't smoke out there anyway?). Then there was whatever it was that required six badgers: I think I'm over the anthropomorphic phase now, but I do like these excuses for mucking about with glue, cardboard boxes and felt!

I enjoy teaching World Theatre, because I learn such a lot in preparation. I did kathakali with a couple of year groups (Keralite dance drama - if you're not from India, you've perhaps seen pics of figures with bright green faces and tall golden crowns). And commedia dell'arte, which is great fun - precursor of European circus clowns, Charlie Chaplin and Mr Bean! Kabuki is a new departure, and very beautiful - breathtaking use of colour in costume and set - but from an unfamiliar musical tradition, and with an acting-style that to western eyes is physically slow, and by turns very understated and almost melodramatic; and the samurai honour code is the basis for some very cruel stories. And yes, I'm hooked, by way of excellent books and DVDs (Habibi winces and wears headphones) and the students, bemused at first, appear to really enjoy working their way into the physical style and vocal techniques. You can only do so much, and then only approximately, but they're bright kids, and are generally intrigued by these excursions into other traditions, aesthetics and cultural perspectives - and practical work can be very entertaining! I'll post some pics (not of the kids) if I remember, but there are excellent sites with video and audioclips, and dipping into The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is helping to set it in context. Spot the teacher. I only meant to do a round-up of my day - you know - blogging!

Anyway, briefing after school for a sort of academic bonding session with the IB1s on the East Coast this weekend. I'm just going for the Thursday session - extended essay workshop and a good lunch. The 10s want to rehearse this weekend (Nooooooooo!!!!!), and we don't like to discourage them, but I was really relieved that they didn't want to do Friday - I've got a mess to make on the balcony! (The UAE weekend is Thursday and Friday, by the way.)

We were supposed to go out tonight. Dubai has this wonderful Concert Committee which organises regular free concerts by classical musicians and singers down at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Tonight was to be bass-baritone Willard White with a wonderful programme that included Mozart, Verdi, Rodgers, Gershwin and Copland. I really really wanted to go (love M, G & C), but Habibi was too busy and tired, and I was just too tired. An 8 o'clock concert mid-week, with grim traffic both ways....... the flesh is weak.

So tonight, after crashing on the sofa for at least an hour (til Habibi woke me for sherry (fish!) fillets perfectly grilled with dill, with roast potato slices and delicate petits pois & green beans...... he's so good.....) I watched Hanabusa Shûjaku Jishi and Sumidagawa (well I did! It's term-time, right?!) followed by the Richard Gere/Stanley Tucci/Susan Sarandon/Jennifer Lopez/very-strong-ensemble-cast-but-I'm-running-out-of-space-here 'Shall We Dance?' because it was time to watch that film again. Really good. And now I'm off to bed. Except I'd better wash up first.

Goodnight all.

No comments: