The moment of truth today, when I discovered whether my hopes for putting on an actual show were realistic. Or not. Today we launched the project, something far more challenging, when we would begin to rehearse. A few minutes before the appointed time, I sat alone in the reception area, feeling a mixture of gloom and stoic acceptance, then told Irene that I would go to Gekko X and see if anyone turned up.
I was immediately cheered by the arrival of several of my regular students, on whom I had been relying. I handed out scripts, pens, and began to explain the title of the play. Suddenly, there was the noisy entrance of a group of eight or nine boys, all from the Safe Zone for minors at Moria, newly enrolled at Gekko Kids (and possibly new arrivals on the island.) I handed out more scripts, no longer concerned that I would have too few actors; quite the reverse, though it was clear that they did not really have any idea what was going on, and might well be merely temporary additions.
And then Khaled arrived. I had put out a plea to the staff for assistance with translation, and Deborah, the volunteers’ co-ordinator, had enlisted him on my behalf. I had come across him already: he was a student at the school, but clearly one blessed with many talents: a guitarist, photographer, linguist… In fact, I had been a little disappointed that he had not attended any of my drama lessons, but I knew there were many calls upon his time. His English was excellent, and his understanding immediate. Suddenly, I had a voice.
We were tackling, reasonably enough, the first scene of the play. It involved the entire cast in a noisy opening, culminating in a slow-motion procession around the stage, the royal party and their attendant hangers-on besieged by a whole crowd of beggars (which gave my new arrivals a role.) It took time to explain each line, and everyone’s confidence was not yet high, but actually in the main their focus was strong, and we were able to block and run the scene a couple of times. That was a whole page and a half under our belts!
I had been concerned about the allocation of roles, that some might feel overlooked, but everyone seemed happy enough, even if we had not yet tackled their scene. Grusha/Massoumeh arrived late – she had a German lesson – and found herself temporarily cast as a peasant, but we had a word afterwards, and she seemed pleased to have a named role, even if she was daunted when she looked through the script and saw how much Grusha had to say. My fingers are very tightly crossed.