And so, for the first time, I was able to run a session just one week on (as promised) from the one before. Now came the time to discover whether there could be any continuity. And on that basis, it did at first seem like a complete failure. For at 2.00 I was entirely on my own. I can be patient in such circumstances (if I am brutally honest, there is even a hint of relief that I will not be called upon) so waited, but at 2.30, when there was still no-one else there, I was just packing my stuff and departing to leave when Ali, one of the stars of last week’s session, breezed in. I was mildly huffy at what I saw as his unpunctuality, but then others drifted in too. It would appear there had been some confusion about the time, with a large board advertising the class at… 2.30.
In fact, there were nine of us altogether: three from last week, two I had met before at other sessions, and four complete newcomers. There was the usual haphazard start as people arrived, but this is something I am getting more used to. And we had our first cross-cultural issue with a game of “zip, zap, boing”, with a Syrian married couple somewhat unnerved by using the word “zip” (similar to a Syrian swear word.) I had met the same issue in Lebanon, but we were able to move past this relatively smoothly.
The pattern has become to demonstrate (or refresh) a particular Drama technique, and then to get the various pairs to use that in a scene. Or not, if my powers of communication are not sufficient to get the point across. We introduced using the idea of a rope, and all seemed happy, but when we shared the results of their own devisings, there were very few ropes in evidence. Not that it mattered.
It is tricky. I use mime a good deal in such work, for it moves away from the inevitable problems of expressing themselves in English, but mime has its own particular difficulties, and is scarcely intuitive. But it does mean that we can all watch, and appreciate, each other’s efforts. And we have some natural performers. And others whose confidence builds even during one session. When one considers (as I am sure is the case) that their exposure to this sort of creative work is so limited, it is very heartening. And if it means they get out of their rooms for a while, so much the better.
Our final scene was to use an old device of mine (aren’t they all?!): two people annoying each other on a bench, and using increasingly violent – and absurd – means to attack each other. I demonstrated the approach with Ali, much to the amusement of all present.
And so, onwards. Sorted out the time issue with hotel management – they were most apologetic – so hope we can move on smoothly next week. Onwards and upwards.