Friday, July 22, 2011

...doting and nothing and nonsense

Today, was yet another wonderful day in this foreign land.
As I mentioned in last night's blog, after our first day working with the children
(without a translator) we realized that our approach to this project was entirely wrong.
Our initial plan had been to bring to bilingual children's books and use one to create
a piece with the older students, and the other to create a piece with the younger students.
It was our ambition to have them learn lines. 
But, after viewing past performances we nixed this idea altogether.
We decided that we would take one of the books we brought La Lagartija y el Sol (or, The Lizard in the Sun)
which is a children's book based on an ancient Peruvian folktale.
We then decided to use this one book for all 19 children, and take a more musical/interpretive approach to the show.
And, what a splendid idea this turned out to be.

We arrived at the orphanage this morning at precisely 9 o'clock with a list of warm-ups, games, and exercises as well as a thoroughly outlined plan of action.
Meaning, last night Ryan and I sat in the living room for hours dissecting this children's book. The thought of walking into that classroom once again without a plan we could work with --with or without translators--made both of us very anxious. And so, we did what I always like to do when I'm anxious: over-prepare.
We broke the book into scenes. Decided on characters. And then cast the show accordingly so that each scene would consist of either all older children or all younger children. 
(I know that most people reading this would rather skip these details, but please, bare with me. I'm going to need these notes later.)
We were able to create 7 main parts (for the younger children) and 11 smaller (but still very exciting) parts for the younger kids.

When we first walked into the room this morning the boys were very excited to see us.  (This is the older group of 7 10-12 year olds, mind you)
And, of course, we were excited to see them.
What we were not excited about, however, was the glaring absence of our translator.
But, both of us unwilling to give into the panic that immediately came knocking, we dove right in.
After our warm-ups we asked (in broken Spanish) one of the teachers to read our book to the children so that we could begin casting parts and rehearsing scenes.
Six of the boys seated themselves on the floor to listen to the story while one boy
had to remain at his desk to finish his work before he could join the group.
As the teacher was reading I watched the boys to gauge their reaction to the story. 
Some of them, initially, appeared a bit less than impressed. 
However, the boy who was supposed to be working was enthralled.
I watched him put down his pencil and turn his full attention to the story of the Lizard in the Sun.
When it came time to casting I told Ryan I wanted the boy in the corner to be the Lizard.
Ryan was a little uncertain, since we hadn't gotten to watch how well he acted or gauged his willingness to participated. But, thankfully, he just went with me on that one.
When we called out names for who would play each role the boy in the corner leaped (lept?) out of his chair with excitement. 
It was one of those warm-fuzzy-in-my-tummy type of moments.
It was about this time that our wonderful translator arrived.
Just in time to help us block out the scenes with the boys.
After blocking--which went ideally--we played a few more games, tied a human knot, and then played a little soccer ---which always seems to be the order of the day here in Peru.

We took a couple of hours to have lunch and then returned to the orphanage for round 2 (with the younger children).
Once again, we beat the translator to the orphanage.
So, I just pulled out my camera.
Immediately, I was swarmed.
They all wanted their pictures taken.
They all wanted to take pictures.

I would love to rant about this for a couple of hours but Ryan and I are supposed to be meeting someone in about 20 minutes. So, today, I'll cut my rant short and just give you some visuals.
You know what they say about pictures...



  1. Great pictures! I am so glad it is going well - and so thankful that you let the boy in the corner play the Lizard.
    Best of luck tomorrow. I will be waiting with baited breath to hear details. Thanks for writing.

  2. Oops. I meant bated - not baited.
    Oh well. Adios. Buenos noches.