Adventures of a Drama Teacher

{April 22, 2008}   Where Hedda got her pistols

Norway was FABULOUS!!!! The trip was perfect save my intolerance for any kind of motion. Our plane connection from Brussels to Oslo was very tight and we (all 20 of us, 8 from St. John’s and 12 from International School of Brussels {ISB}) missed the connecting flight. But it was no biggie; we managed to catch the next one an hour later (after spending a fortune on airport delicatessen). A bus set up by our host school fetched us at Stavanger airport and off we went to the International School of Stavanger (ISS) where we were met by the hosts and the other visiting schools from Kiev Russia, Turkey, Rome, UK, Budapest Romania, and the ISTA staff from all over the globe. Our theme was the famous Norwegian playwright Heinrik Ibsen’s complex character and play Hedda Gabler.


After arrival the students met with their ensemble groups and all the teachers had a short meeting before we were taken to our hotel to check in. The teachers stayed at the Victoria Hotel which had amazing turn of the century décor, something Hedda Gabler would have liked (although my room had a less than wonderful view of an air duct and the kitchen windows Hedda would have poo pooed that). Of course the mini-bar was there to tempt me, and if you know me I cannot resist. Although the candy (size of normal candy bars) was the equivalent of about $5.00 a piece) I ate three over the four day sojourn. The candy at 711 was also this price and a Diet Coke was about $5.00 American dollars too. OUCH! I must say it was nice to patron a 711 though! The students stayed with host families form ISS. That first evening  after a brilliant introduction workshop which included some really fun theatre games that introduced Norway and Hedda Gabler there was a director’s reception but the two American teachers from Kiev and I were exhausted so we traversed back to the hotel instead. I was still slightly travel sick from the first bus ride and travel sickness plagued me throughout the journey.


The next morning we (the students, teacher, chaperones and ISTA staff) met across from our hotel on the water front for a fjord boat tour. This was absolutely AMAZING! I didn’t get sick as I stayed outside which was really cold but sunny and beautiful. It was so much like taking the ferry out to our place on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska but the houses were more upscale and there were no float planes buzzing overhead. We stopped at a waterfall and drank from it, went to the area’s famous cliffs and chatted and a wonderful time was had by all.


After returning to the down town waterfront area of Stavanger, the kids went off on their own for lunch and the teachers ate at this very nice Italian restaurant. It was great fun getting to know these other educators from all over the earth. When we finished the obligatory face stuff we all met up at the town statue where the kids were sent off to different Stavanger venues to get to know Hedda. I went with the group that worked in an old cannery that has since been turned into a cannery museum. Stavenger is now rich because of oil but at the turn of the century and until the world wars its chief industry was fish. I watched that ensemble leader work with the kids for a bit (this is the teacher from {ISB} who used to work at my school for 14 years; he built the program there kind of like I built the program at Shepherd. I took his job when he went to ISB). Anyway, he is also part of the ISTA staff and he had some great ways of getting the kids involved with Hedda. I tried to find the other ensemble groups around the city but couldn’t so I walked around, purchased some souvenirs and enjoyed the beautiful Norwegian day. The Norwegians have a sense of humor to say the least.  There was a skateboard shop that had crappy advertisement. I took a picture of that. The city was so cute and clean (except for the crappy advertizment) and full of sculptures.


Back at the school for the evening we had more workshops, ensemble groups and then what is known as a caille (SIC) which is like square dancing. What fun everyone had! Saturday was filled with workshops. I went to the Boal and Bunraku sessions as I am starting units on those soon as well as touched on a sound effects one. The teacher workshops were cool too, but I liked the student ones better save for the great teacher friends I made during the teacher ones. That evening the host families took the kids out and the ISS host school took us to an authentic Norwegian dinner which again was on the waterfront and the weather was stellar, the food was so much better than Belgian, and it was so nice talking with other international teachers and getting their perspectives on the whole international experience. If I am here next year we will attend the festival in Turkey (I really liked the ladies from that school). I found out that I was the only full time high school drama teacher there. The others all taught either junior high as well and or English classes etc. Some only had an after school drama program. I am lucky my programs have been so successful.


On the last day the kids had a performance (abstract type) that incorporated Hedda, Norway and all they had learned over the festival. It was very interesting.


I also got to know my students really well such as what their parents do in depth. For example my sweet little French girl who just started at St. John’s in December (at the time her English was about as good as my French). She participated in my children’s theatre and musical review. I had known that her mother worked for Vogue magazine, but I did not know that her grandmother IS the “The Devil Wears Prada” woman. I got to know some really fun and interesting tidbits about the fashion industry. One of my other student’s parents are diplomats. I have a lot of those.


On the plane trip home a fire alarm went off in the Stavanger airport after me and my students and a few of the ISB kids had boarded. The rest of ISB and their teachers had to go outside which made our plane about 40 minutes late and we thought we would surely miss our connecting flight AGAIN. Fortunately, the connecting flight too was late but we all still had to make a run for it. It was comical seeing 20 people run together in a pack to catch a plane! I didn’t get home until 9:30 in the evening on Sunday after picking up Mo who stayed with Judith.


This experience has inspired me and made me feel better about teaching here. Who knows what next year will bring!


Amber says:

Wow sounds like you had a fun time! I have to say me and Norway don’t share the same sense of humor.

Musical Theatre auditions are tomorrow! Cinderella was amazing and the set was gorgeous. I can’t wait for next year’s show!

Chelsea C says:

Wow! That’s spectacular. See, I would love to be able to go meet new people who are like me but different at the same time from all over the world. It just sounds like so much fun. Norway is beautiful, at least…that’s what I can tell from the pictures. I hope you had lots of fun. Cinderella was last week and it went spectacular. Everything was so amazing and it really worked out in time unlike any other show this year. It finally seemed like a semi well-oiled machine backstage. I’m glad to call it my last show. It feels so weird not having any real shows for the rest of the year (the improv show is in a few weeks but I don’t really count it). I am so excited for high school next year but I sure will miss everyone still stuck at SJH. 😛

boXx says:

I received a post card from PARIS today! WhEeEe! I love, love, LOVE it! Thanks so much. I can’t wait to put up my end of the year bulletin wall with the post cards from all over the world. You’re the BESTEST!

Alec M says:

Hi Mrs. Griffin! That Norway sounds so much fun! I’m glad you got to visit Asia and can add that to the list of continents you’ve been to! I really like the “shit” letters in the window…ahahahah, they made me laugh!

brooke hartnett says:

Alec, Norway is in Europe…..stupid.

Mrs. griffin! Norway looks so cool! Cinderella was wonderful and I wish you were here to see to it. I hope you’re having a great time in Belgium!

Alec M says:

Oh….Norway, Asia, they’re all countries, same THING BROOKE!!!!!

Chelsea C says:

alec, asia is a CONTINENT…not a country. not the same thing.

Ashley C says:

There are some things that you taught us that just stick. Things such as an undying love of a certain musical. The other day I was in Barnes and Noble in the musical section, and barely stopped myself from screaming when I found the book for Into the Woods! It made me smile so much! So I had to buy it, and when I brought it to school today it made all of the other Griffinites smile too. No one else understood why we were all gushing over this little book! Just a little thing that made me think of you in a big way. You had better be teaching all of your students in Belgium to love Into the Woods as well or I will feel betrayed! =]

Casey Ellings says:

Wow alec, yeah not the same thing. hey mrs. griffin. Looks like you are having a fun time. We all miss you. I love the pictures.

Alec says:

Guys, I thought this was MRS. GRIFFIN’S blog, not the BASH ALEC’S BLOG!

Chelsea C says:

Mrs. Griffin, do you mind if we turn this into an “Alec Bashing Blog” (sponsored by you, of course)? I mean, its just so much fun. :]

(and for a prince, he sure doesn’t know his geography.)

Connor says:

Hi! Sorry I keep fading in and out, I am really weighted down with school and this augmented social life I acquired somewhere. I’m so glad that you get to see all of these amazing places (especially signs that say SHIT) and meet all of these diverse people.
Ashley is right, Into the Woods now has a special meaning for a lot of us. It is on my itunes (I’m not cool enough to have an ipod) and every time I listen to it, it reminds me of you. We all miss you soooo much, and I hope that you plan on visiting us this summer. If you have the time, feel free to send me an e-mail. It’s

Oh, and P.S. You shouldn’t be doubting yourself! When you have this many students who miss you this much, it means that you are definitely doing SOMETHING right. Those whom I have talked to can’t help but compare their current drama teachers to you, and find that they fall short. You are our gold standard for excellence, and I hope that you know that.

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