In order to practise with the real thing, I cut some laurel branches from the hedge conveniently running between our house and our neighbours’, and took them in with me; I attracted a few surprised looks, presumably thinking I was on my way to Dunsinane. Of course, I should explain: the laurel woods are where our hero Youssef is directed by his dream, and the four actors have two branches each to represent such.
Full attendance today – six of them, and me – so after working a little on the sound and Youssef’s trust in his fellow actors – we were able to run through the whole play. It is improving, bit by bit, though I feel there is still work to do before presenting it to an audience. On the other hand, just a few weeks ago I was despairing of ever even approaching this state.
Which led us on to discussing possibilities for performance. I had emailed Young Roots, an arts organisation for young refugees, as they already have a connection with both Matilda and the Holiday Inn, and as it happened I ran into Shona, one of its group. Somewhat to my surprise, she had seen the email, so already knew of our hope to find both a venue and a (small) audience, to provide my very inexperienced actors with the opportunity for performance. She suggested the nearby centre, which I have visited before, which is where the senior English class is taught. I have to say, I am a little uncertain – even just for the English class, it was difficult to hear over the loud background noise; the place is simultaneously a youth club. I would find it a very hard gig to cope with such circumstances, and I am wary of my group’s rather fragile confidence being shattered. Still, I told Shona I would discuss it with the group, who know the space well. Like me, they were a little apprehensive; we shall have to see.
Partly as a rest from “Destiny” – rehearsals can get a bit tedious – as well as generating some more material, we went back to The Boy Who Cried Wolf. With a regular group, maybe we can come up with a complete story, rather than just using it as an exercise in class. Previously, Fatima had provided us with a wonderful folk song, which we use to introduce the villagers, but without her input, and with no-one else able to supply a song, I taught them “Frere Jacques”, only with different words, more applicable to the needs of our play.
We are working, we are working,
More and more, more and more,
Just to keep the wolf out, just to keep the wolf out,
From the door, from the door.
It is something of a struggle for them, coping with the words, singing a round, and accompanying the song with actions, but actually its very raggedness had a certain charm. And they will get better.