Mistaken identities

posted in: Hotel Lessons | 0
Roji and Hamed

First issue today was that I arrived to discover that my space at the Holiday Inn was being occupied.  Nothing unusual there – it also serves as a prayer room, a teaching space, an alternative dining room, a clothes distribution centre, a party space.  The difference this time was that, first of all the room had been specifically set up for whatever purpose it was serving, with a food trolley, desks and tables arranged in the middle of the room.  Secondly, although the first person who approached me was friendly enough, and apologised for the obvious clash, the second was not.  He identified himself as from the Home Office, and made it very clear that I had to leave immediately, as they were dealing with a sensitive case.  So I went out into the corridor, and waited there, ready to intercept any of my class that might arrive.

Roji turned up soon after, accompanied by another new asylum-seeker. A youngish Iranian girl, just ten days in the country, called Bahar.  Roji pointed out the/a manager, eating his lunch, so I approached him, to ask about the situation.  He was apologetic enough, explained that it was out of his hands, and took my phone number, so that I could be updated as to whether it would be available next week (though I confess I am not optimistic I will hear anything.)

And so, we occupied a small corner of the dining room, and eventually Hamed joined us, but that ws it, just we three.  I decided to do some work on mistaken identity, starting with the scene I have often used, of one person spotting a friend across the street and waving to them, but this being mistaken by some one between them, who becomes increasingly convinced that the welcome is meant for them.  And then we developed this idea into the general idea of mistaken identity, taking the basic premise of Gogol’s Government Inspector, and basing some improvised scenes around that.

Bahar was good, joining in well despite her lck of experience and confidence, but I suspect we will not see her again.  But I can see a way forward.  If there are enough people, we can develop the Government Inspector into a piece for performance.  If, as seems increasingly the case, it is just Hamed and Roji, then it might be possible to do the same sort of thing with Waiting for Godot.

One amusing by-product of our greater visibility (and audibility) in the dining room, came about when Roji and Hamed were improvising an increasingly vehement argument, when suddenly two security guards rushed in, clearly thinking that something violent was kicking off.  And with cause to be concerned; there have been some violent incidents in the hotel.  Fortunately, we were able to explain the situation, and they saw the funny side.  Just as well.

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