Two sessions to deal with here; I forgot to take a picture last week, and so did not write about it. A pity, since there were some interesting developments. Notably, we changed the time to start at 3pm, the better to accommodate those who now went to college, and this meant we had two new members, Roy and Emma, a pair of sisters from Albania. I had met them before, as they had attended the session when we had a good number from the English class. They had also come to see the performance, and made very positive noises about it.
It was particularly good to welcome them into the group, as the new project actually needs more women. After a chat with the group last week, I have decided on a new project. It will be a (much-simplified) take on As You Like It, which is, after all, the story of some refugees, intertwined with references to the current refugee situation (or even the personal experiences of the participants.) The final idea is to include some references to The Hokey Cokey, to add an element of the surreal.
It was the hokey cokey that we started with, which provoked a certain amount of laughter. But including it in the play was less successful – the group has widely different standards of English, so even the rhyme caused problems.
We did then start to look at the beginning of the play, but it was actually quite hard-going, and I felt that I was losing them to some extent. It was also hindered by having only a limited number of people: Hamid, Sherwan, Rabar, and the 2 Albanian girls and Aisha. So it was with a slightly down feeling that the session came to a close.
The following week promised to be very similar. Aisha was ill, Rabar did not come, and Roy and Emma did not turn up at all. This might not be permanent, of course – there are all sorts of reasons why people cannot attend a session – and everything might be different next week; that is one of the facts of life of working with this group. On the other hand, Ali had reappeared after a gap, and there was also Azadeh, a friend of Hamid’s. She was understandably apprehensive – after all, I ask them to do some very strange things – but soon proved a huge asset.
And the rehearsal as a whole was terrific. I had produced another couple of sides of text, and all of that went well. Ali and Sherwan were able to pick up on the work done last week, and have the wrestling match which comes at the beginning of the play sorted out. There was also a complex scene which had been giving me concern, showing the journey undertaken by the refugees, and using a “machine” type approach. I had no idea whether this would work, but they took to it with imagination and energy. The session ended in fits of giggles, and though such lack of discipline can be irritating, it also indicated that everyone had been having a good time. Including me.