As I sit on my bed, planning a blog entry, I realize that this one can begin with a proud statment: I did what I intended to do. The theater project has been alternately so stressful, frustrating, satisfying, and emotional–in one word, so intense–that it feels good to be able to sit back now and make such a simple, gratifying statement. Both schools have put on shows in front of large audiences, and the kids loved the experience.
Fatima’s final show took place last Wednesday on the final day of school, before the rest of the school’s students. For the past week and a half, we have been holding after-school rehearsals, for which the students have voluntarily stayed. I will remember those rehearsals as serene and rejuvinating times, in which the kids reminded me how little I know and how strong they are. When my foibles and neuroses threatened to overwhelm me, the kids’ good humor and accepting nature was always a solidity to which I could cling and be relieved.
On the morning of the show, my faith in that sanity was rattled. There is a student at one of the special needs schools who I compared in a previous blog entry to an unbreakable horse. That morning, as I tried to get the actors in order, I thought I was dealing with sixteen of him, only ten years older and on cocaine. Even the kids who are usually calmest and most attentive, were shouting to each other while I tried to lay down the logistics of the show. After an hour of my and Vedant’s frantically attempting to drive vital information into their heads, like a chisel into rock, I sat down, watched the time pass and hoped for a miracle. The kids got into costume and started bringing props and set items over to the makeshift stage. I was getting more and more nervous. The audience was assembled, the speeches were given, and I was pacing backstage, hugging myself.
Finally, Brian and Juliana stepped onto the stage. Within a minute, I heard uproarious laughter and when the scene ended, uproarious applause.
“Oh, yeah,” I thought to myself, “we did rehearse this show.”
And “oh yeah, these kids do kick ass.”
The rest of the show went amazingly. Brian–a truly kind kid and one of our favorites–gets best actor for his portrayal of the dominated man and a grandfather. Jason–the most difficult and resistent kid in the group–did an amazing job as Malvolio from our adaptation of the prank story from “Twelfth Night.” He went off script and addressed the audience, he timed the comedy well, and when he came offstage, I saw bliss written all over his face. I recognized something that I felt the first times I performed for an audience and was well recieved–a feeling that can’t be called happiness or pride, a detached ecstasy that comes with the question, “what was that I just did?” Miss Natasha, the teacher, deserves recognition for her portrayal of a loving godmother. She is beautiful, charming, and a talented actress; I think if she had the opportunity, she might be famous.
When the play was over, I was in a daze. The kids were relaxed and happy. It hasn’t hit me until now that that event is just what I had been hoping for.