This post conflates two sessions, I’m afraid, the fault of my own lack of self-discipline. But the two classes were linked. They were the first two after the break for the Christmas holiday, and in neither case were we able to continue work on the Hokey Cokey As You Like It. For the first session in particular, we were very light in numbers, with Nada and Sama, the two Saudi girls, both having to attend college, and absences texted in by Fola and Sherwan. With a relatively small group, we played Who Killed King John?, a getting the procedure right while maintaining a stony face game, and then some simple improvisation scenarios. Which were entertaining enough, but it did feel as though we were marking time. In order to accommodate Nada and Sama, as well as Aisha, who will also soon be attending college, I suggested a move to Tuesdays. It did not cause a problem with anyone there, so it was agreed for the following week.
Inbetween the two classes, I had a zoom call with Leah, a young lady who works for Compass Theatre. My daughter Lucy had found them while researching for Drama volunteering opportunities for me; they are a company who initiate projects, as well as holding regular Drama and English classes, especially for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers and refugees. I had written to them about the Wembley group, and they were interested in talking with me about how we might be of use to each other. It was a most productive meeting, and there are a number of positive possibilities, up to the chance of a joint performance in a couple of months. Compass could also be of use to my students individually; they have been invited to register their names, with the opportunity then of classes, theatre trips, etc. I think my group were excited by these opportunities, but sometimes it is difficult to judge, and in any case they are rightly wary of something which promises much, until they see what it delivers. The good news was that we had good numbers, with eight of them there, and very nearly on time. The bad was that we may have lost Sherwan, who cannot attend on Tuesdays.
I also broke the news about the change of theatrical direction. I have decided to try to create a show out of something closer to sketches, linked by a common theme, which will not be so easily derailed by people being at rehearsals or not. Based on a conversation I had listened in on the previous week, I have decided on the idea of waiting, and especially the way that they are stuck in limbo. It went well, but I have had some doubts since, largely because of my concern that I can find enough theatrical variety in that theme. We worked on two ideas. The first relied on converting a scene in which people simply waited, to building up their waiting mannerisms, to an exploration of rhythm, developing into a Stomp-like dance scene. Think it could make a dynamic opening.
The other idea was far more language-based, and was a first exploration of the Kafka-like situation in which the group find themselves, having to jump through bureaucratic hoops. This was a far more complex idea, and needed language in order to bring it to life, but the seeds are there. They worked in two groups, and the one with Hamed, Nada, Aisha and Abdulaziz had a particularly strong ending, which reduced the audience (alright, the other four) to silence. It needs writing as a script, I think, but we need to keep that ending.
And so, once again, we are off and running; the class finished on a very positive note. Let’s hope we can make it continue.