Production week – the first week of the new term – approaches, and an opportunity to reflect upon the process. There are some things I wish I had done or had been different.
Hearing the wonderful Dominican choir was a major factor in luring me to Johannesburg. For me, the glory of the choir has always been their sound, and the emotional impact this has created. As a result, I had assumed the songs could be fitted in without regard to their words. Not understanding the language, the words have no meaning for me, but of course they would for the majority of the audience. Consequently, it has not been easy to find appropriate ones (nor the time to adapt them), and it looks like there will be far fewer than I would have wanted.
A smaller issue illustrates a wider cultural misunderstanding of mine. The production needed a simple three-legged stool, and I had assumed such a thing would be commonplace (betraying an attitude approaching racism on my part); not so. In the end, it was of little consequence – the stool has been replaced by a plastic crate, covered in card and painted.
Another lack of awareness was of the school’s reliance upon learners taking ownership and control. I retained control myself, and so marginalized the role of the stage managers, leaving them confused.
Some difficulties over which I had no control: an inflexible rehearsal schedule; a lack of total commitment by some performers; the virtual national strike against the government, emptying the school and robbing me of vital rehearsal time. And some things I remain pleased with: the collaboration with Viloshni and Lucky; the talent and good humour of the learners; the script (of which I remain inordinately proud).
And the final product? Well, let’s see…