Yesterday was a day of two parts.
The morning saw Helen and me leading a final preparatory session with the Year 2 KIE students. We began work at 8am with warm-ups and improvisational exercises in the outdoor amphitheatre. The weather has been glorious, and an early morning start under the cloudless Rwandan skies was invigorating. But several hours later, by the time we entered the final stages of devising the theatre pieces we had been working on all week – to share with our own students – the sun was high and the sunken, stone-lined theatre space was an oven. We seriously wondered if we could make it through to the last hour when we would enjoy the respite of an indoor classroom – but inspired by the dedication of the KIE students, we forged onwards. (The irony was that we were working on Theatre of the Oppressed models! Who was oppressing whom? It was a veritable case of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” going out in the mid-day sun!)
Our efforts were rewarded. Eventually we moved inside, and by the time the session drew to a close, a little past noon, we had seven embryonic forum theatre pieces under our collective belts, had achieved considerable progress with performance skills, and had established a remarkable sense of ensemble. The students were extremely pleased with themselves and very excited to meet their CUNY visitors next week.
It was a fitting moment to pause for breath, but there was little space for reflection. The session ended just in time to rush to the airport – courtesy of our hosts Jean and Leon – to meet the first of our own student arrivals.
Melanie and Michael were the first to land safe and sound. Alas, the same could not be said for their luggage! Two suitcases are still at large somewhere between Washington DC and Kigali. (We believe at least one of them may be in Angola. We will keep our readers posted.) It must be said that the weary travelers maintained a phlegmatic good humor in the face of this setback!
Later that evening we were off to the airport again, this time to meet Andre. Happily he arrived with everything intact.
By the time we post the next blog, our remaining seven students should be with us, poised and ready for the second phase of this remarkable adventure.
Chris and Helen