Opening lines

posted in: Ethiopian project | 0

Yohannes and Eshatu

I had to get things moving on my own this morning, Binyam being delayed by a meeting at the university, where he does some work… though I don’t know the specifics.  But actually, we all coped pretty well in the circumstances (those circumstances being that we needed to start translating the text into Amaric.)  We played King Rabbit as a sort of warm-up – it’s actually a drinking game, but I didn’t mention that.  And then, when enough of them had turned up, we set to work.

Even without Binyam for the first part of the session, we did pretty well.  One actual advantage og his absence was that it forced them to try to understand my English.  There is a wide range of abilities in that respect, though it is also clear that some are far better than they let on.  On discovering that Hana, one of the actors, was really pretty fluent (despite the fact that she rarely says a word) I relied on her a good deal.  And, rather delicately, attempting to describe to her her ascribed role, she cut me short.  “I am his mistress?”  Well, yes… though she seemed rather pleased than otherwise.

The approach I adopted was to take one small section at a time, work out between us – sorry, them – how to say each line in Amaric, give it a quick run-through, and move on.  When Binyam arrived, he was able to provide greater detail – or at least I think so, since I was unable to understand a word – though he also took full advantage of a translation app that one of the actors had on his phone – but it did slow things down a little.  Even so, we did achieve my stated target of managing the first five pages, and since the script only has eighteen, we are on track.  And we finished with a stumble-through of all that we had done.

There was a moment of delicious irony.  An early scene in the play has a character threatened with death if he cannot raise one thousand gold pieces.  And in the hurried meeting I had with Binyam and Alazar, one thousand dollars is what they require from me.  I suppose I should be grateful I am not being threatened with death if I fail to deliver.

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