This week, a few of us have chosen to leave early for class so we could slow down our walk and enjoy our one mile trip. Our first walk, ten days ago, was very challenging, Our path was under construction and large portions of the sidewalk were unfinished. In only ten days, it has become an effortless journey. It is a beautiful brick sidewalk, hand laid by an incredibly hard working group of people.
An added benefit to leaving early is that when we get to our rehearsal room we have a chance to chat with some of the students before the daily warm-ups begin. Our days are so full but we are all taking time to hear personal stories from the Rwandan students and answer their questions about our world.
After every one was signed in, we officially began our day. Julia, Laurence and Dragonfly led three engaging games which brought us together and opened up our imaginations.
• ‘Protector and Enemy’- choose one person in the room to be your protector and one person to be your enemy. Move about the room while keeping your protector between you and your enemy. Your enemy and your protector do not know you have chosen them and they have their own enemy and protector.
• ‘Finger Tip Touch’- partners choose who is A and who is B. B closes their eyes and A guides their movements with only a finger touching their partners finger. Switch.
• ‘Sculptor’ – partners take turns gently molding each other into statues.
After our warm-ups and usual laughter it was time to return to the Forum Theatre plays we had created the day before. With only a few minutes to remind ourselves of the work, we launched into our presentations.
A Forum play is a story of a protagonist who slips from happiness to despair due to an oppression. After sharing the original play, the drama is restarted giving audience members a chance to yell “Stop”, discuss what they didn’t like and then step-in to try to alter the downward course for the protagonist. The students generated the themes and created the content. They chose a range of subjects including forced marriage, abuse of a step child, nepotism and teen pregnancy. It was exciting to watch them create new directions for the protagonist and options for a better outcome.
The students were very brave in choosing these painful subjects and played their roles with gusto. Now that we know it only takes an audience to bring out their passion for acting, we will expect great things when we begin play building an original show to be presented on Friday.
The highlight of the day for me and for many of my peers was the cultural exchange which took place opposite the Forum presentations. This began with some really fun games that allowed us to learn more about the people we are working with. For example, I found out that apples are hard to get in Rwanda but that they are a favorite of my Rwandan partner. The game brought us back together several times and each time we were called together, we shared more about the delicious fruit.
After our games, we prepared an American song to share with our Rwandan counterparts and they prepared something for us. My group sang “This Little Light of Mine”, complete with harmony. Our peers chose “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Erin, Julia and Colleen, acted out the verse and the Rwandan students loved it.
Then, it was time for the Rwanda University students to share some songs with us.
THEY WERE FANTASTIC!
One of the songs they sang was a traditional song called “Ibare”, It was done in a call and response style. They added dancing which just pushed it over the top. It was so beautiful. Helen was jotting notes and already planning ways to use their great songs and dances in our upcoming play.
To finish out the day, we had to teach each other the songs and dances from our countries. My African dancing still needs work but the Rwandans picked up the Electric Slide and the Wobble and are ready to hit the dance floor. For me, the day was about the freedom to try new things and share new ideas. From Forum to the dance floor, there is always an opportunity to step in a new direction.