Make ’em laugh

posted in: Teaching in Lesvos | 1

After the disappointing – not to say non-existent – turnout to the comedy workshop last week, Syed, the wonderful, multi-lingual, ever-smiling receptionist at Mosaik, promised me that we would have a full contingent this time.  And so it proved.  At 2 pm, there were half a dozen waiting for me in Mosaik’s largest classroom, with all the chairs and tables put away.  At 2.05 we had about the right number, some 15 or so, including (but not counting) a baby and a small child.  I began the lesson, but still they kept coming, 30 or more (though this did mean a few were able to escape my attention and hide themselves.)

Mime was the subject of the first half of the workshop, the basic technique explained and practised, and then various objects created and used: a ball, something to drink out of, and then progressing onto their own ideas.  We tried the magic object, which changes as it passes from person to person.  It was hard going, of course – this was the first time they had encountered being asked such questions, and most of them had only the vaguest idea of what I was asking them to do.  All the same, there were flashes of imagination, and quite a bit of laughter.  I played the clown, of course I did, but they paid attention, and enjoyed watching each other; some of them were making rapid progress.

We had a break after the first hour, and I really did think I’d lost pretty much everyone; some had explained they had another class to attend.  But in fact the same pattern repeated, with the numbers swelling over the first few minutes, the numbers boosted by the arrival of a number of French visitors.

Slow motion was the theme this time.  Harder for everyone to be involved, because of the lack of space, so rather more demonstrating this time.  Some by me (try and stop me) though I did have one rather worrying moment, when, acting out a scene of a robbery, I found myself with my arm twisted up my back in an armlock.  Talk about a trust exercise – I had to rely on a total stranger deciding not to hurt me.  He didn’t, I hasten to add.

Handing out bus tickets at the end was surprisingly challenging, with various people I had not noticed in the workshop coming forward to claim their allocation, but it resolved itself amicably enough.  As someone said, better to be occasionally fooled than permanently suspicious.

  1. Geoffrey Emerson

    In the days when the Probation Service had a ‘Befriending Fund’ for bus tickets, emergency food, work boots, etc.. There was the risk of being conned, which some colleagues were very concerned about, but I took the same attitude as you, although I never expressed the thought so clearly.

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