Adventures of a Drama Teacher











{November 25, 2007}   Belgian Style

I love the way Belgians dress; at least the women for the most part. They have turned it into an art form. Wearing scarves is a fine art, and not in the way I, as an artist, wear scarves. The men and women here sport winter scarves “tout les temps” and it looks so cool. If only I could achieve such scarf “cooliness.”  I am attempting, having bought two since I have been here; the standard brown and one of my favorite colors, chartreuse. And skirts let me tell you! The art of donning short “jupes” over warm leggings is fascinating. It is so wonderful to see an attractively, dressed young-looking woman turn around and realize she must be in her late 50s or older. Even the old women dress stylish! Outer jackets and coats are a must, the longer the better and even more styling if you have fake-fur, either all over or as an accent; although the color spectrum is minute; black and brown, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous and sassy maybe a dark grey. But oh the males! Red pants are in like Flynn! And pointed shoes! Not as pointy as the men and women of London (Mo and I spent amused time spying pointy shoes on the underground during our trip last summer), but pointed non-the-less. I had a Belgian student wear his pointed dress shoes on our adventure day in the muddy woods. Shoes are a big deal here. Being from Oregon I don’t understand as the weather here is comparable, and your shoes get yucky with the rain. But not if you’re wearing the obligatory boots! Thigh high, knee high, you name it. If you don’t have boots well then just curl up and die! And they are super expensive here but oh do I want a pair (or two)! Wearing a short skirt, a nice sweater (with a scarf) a chunky matching belt, leggings and riding-style boots with make-up and hair done up as if you’re going somewhere special you might fit in at the local Brico which is equivalent to Home Depot. And if you’re a man, carry your miniature pooch in a small red faux-leather purse and you’ll definitely be styling! I just got my hair butchered and it’s really short and spiky (not to my liking) but when I was at school the other day in my short denim skirt, black chunky sweater and suede boots, one of my students, (the gorgeous French one) stated that I looked Belgian. What a compliment!

scarfy-photo.jpg Photo complimentary of Morrison James Peacock-photographer of the future. small-mo-and-mommy-waterloo-gare.jpg Here’s a photo from the day Mo and I sojourned from Gare Waterloo to the Grande Place. We are so adventurous! Oh, and The Mikado was colorful. The set wasn’t as good as my previous show, but I learned from it. Mostly I enjoyed it because it reminded me of Porter, and his chippy chop tongue twister!

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{November 17, 2007}   I passed!

I passed the production portion of my thesis project! The show went exceptionally well considering the mountain that I had to climb from the beginning. Remember-new country, new school, new curriculum, no stagecraft class, no set builders, not knowing where to find stuff, not speaking good enough French, not having control of the technical side such as lights. But the show was sold out last night (400 seat house), and so very funny, poignant, visual and entertaining! The problems pointed out by my professor were the problems I had pointed out sooo many times to my kids like, “volume, diction, timing of cues” as well as lighting, which we only worked with for 3 rehearsals and I had no control over. I was sooo nervous, more so than ever before as the NEW teacher there. I am sure we impressed the audience! All my students LOVED it. They all had read it in class, and it is/was wonderful to then see it come to fruition.

I found my camera battery charger and it actually works without the transformer so I promise some photos tonight. We strike after the show, then it rest for me. Well at least I don’t have to stay after school for a while.

The air is frosty. It is winter. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful for so much.

I am glad to hear Alice in Wonderland went well at my previous school. I am so proud of my students there, I miss them.



{October 20, 2007}  

grande-place.jpgmanneking-pis.jpgMo and I took the train to Brussels to visit the Grande Place, the Mannekin Pis and relive some of my favorite memories as a youth. My brother and I would take the train and go to the movies, and buy records, and explore. Those were the days when my family seemed happy. Morrison wonders why I like to revisit these places. I said someday when I am no longer around you will remember fondly the things we did together like this. I had a family once and that was great.



{October 17, 2007}   Back from London

London was a learning experience. We saw some incredible shows, Marry Poppins with the most outstanding special effects (such as a moving Victorian house, tap dancing on the procenium archway 100 feet in the air etc) I have ever seen in a show, along the likes of Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera and Wicked, as well as another musical called War Horse with the most amazing Bunraku puppetry ever!!!! I loved that show!!!! We also had great workshops that taught us all a lot. Teaching IB theatre is soooo complicated, but I feel better about it now.

My students did misbehave though and that was a total drag. A group of boys got caught throwing water balloons out the hotel window at 2:30 AM and almost got us all kicked out. So I had to deal with that, as well as the consequences back at school. Each year it’s another bad word for me such as TENNIS BALLS, HOT GLUE and now WATER BALOONS! Someday I will laugh about it.

Now on to the next task, finishing my show.

I feel free now that I have my new car and I love it.

Mo is getting on fine and had a good visit with grandparents in England.

James family you are welcome anytime, I do already have company from October 26th through November 12th, but if you came November 16th or 17th you could see my show!!

Love to all. 🙂



{October 7, 2007}   International Festival

On Friday the school had an International festival sponsored by the mothers. There were at least sixty different booths with food from each country, decorations and costumes as well as a costumes or traditional dress parade. It really was fun and interesting. Thses things are so cool that it makes this journey worthwile. I keep having to think that. All is well and Mo and i are doing great, but I still am ever so homesick. I dreamed of you all last night, being back in musical theatre with mrs. Turely. I miss Taco bell. I am cold, I miss Arizona heat.



{October 3, 2007}   Computer woes Continue

I finally got car insurance so I hope to have a car in a week or so. My computer at home is toast so I can’t update from home. We leave for London next Wednesday. Crazy busy, but the play rehearsals are going great. I miss you all so much I just want to come home sometimes, but I know I have a job to do. Mo is doing better with his organization and his birthday is next week. He will be going to the UK with me and his grandparents will pick him up and take him to their farm while I have workshops and plays with my students. check out the ISTA site. http://www.ista.co.uk/



{September 23, 2007}   An Interesting Party

We went to Judith’s “Burning of her Mortgage” dinner party last night. It was the first of two, she will have another next week to accommodate more of her friends. She has paid off her house! Congratulations! As I now listen to Johnny Cash, I will tell you about this magnificent lady and her friends. Judith just turned 65. She was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher and my 8th grade homeroom advisor. She is from West Virginia, but has lived in Belgium for 40 years. As she tells it, she came to Belgium for a year and stayed 40. She was once a nun. In fact she was studying French at her “nunnery” during the civil rights movement in Washington DC. The head Priest had instructed that no priests or nuns were to attend the protests. This didn’t suit well with Judith (Sister Kathleen) for she felt that the black people were not being treated properly, so she marched with the protesters in full habit (nun costume). She then was demoted as a nun for her disobedience and sent to teach 49 7th graders at an inner city school which she claims was such a difficult experience that she has blocked the memory from her conscience. 49 7th graders, one classroom, brand new teacher. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? During this she also continued her education and was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study French for a year in Belgium. She traversed the ocean on a cruise liner in 1968 knowing no one, and learned to speak French with a Liege-Belgian accent so well no one could tell she was American. After working a year in Brussels as a secretary she was hired on at St. John’s in its first year at the Waterloo location. This woman is so dedicated,wonderful, and funny! I admire her so much and really enjoy her company. Mo and I will be watching her dogs again in 2 weeks time.

 

So the people she had at the party last night were the ones we went with to the Labyrinth in the Ardennes on the first weekend we were here. Three Romanians,  an Englishman, a Belgian and two very small children ½ Romanian ½ English that speak, at ages of two and four-French, Romanian and English! The children’s mother is a gorgeous Romanian lawyer married to an Englishman who waits on her like she’s a princess. What a flamboyant personality! She is so wonderful with her kids, and come to find out she will only hire an “educated” nanny to help make sure her kids are learning how to speak “properly”. Must cost her a buck or two. Her father was a communist leader in Romania. He escaped persecution after the revolution and is now a University Professor of medicine. Her sister is an important geneticist working in Texas and discovered the gene for aging. (This was told to my by Judith). Judith also explained that even though these people were/are considered wealthy for Romania’s standards, it certainly isn’t the standards we as Americans consider wealthy. Anyway, sitting at the table with so many different languages spoken is so interesting. As interesting as the food we ate which was delicious. I have quit asking what this dish is before I try it otherwise I might not sample. I AM becoming even more adventurous.

 

Mo is going over to Axel’s house again today, (he and his mother stopped by yesterday to arrange a play date) so I am going to rest and read for pleasure.

 

Although this experience is wonderful, I must admit I am thankful to be American because of all the conveniences we have.



{September 22, 2007}   I must have been a bad girl.

Difficult week; to say the least. 24 Hour Theatre (spending the night at the school with 40 10th graders and creating a themed performance within 24 hours) proved to be more than my constitution can handle. I equate this with spending an entire day in the dentist chair. Nothing more to be said.

UTDS is going great. Character work is extremely entertaining. We are on schedule. I am still worried about getting the set done, as I have no stagecraft class, and the one that is offered by the school and taught by someone else really only focuses on lighting and sound.

The police finally showed up this morning so we are a bit closer to driving legally. I bought a vacuum today which if you really know me, you know that makes me happy and this one really sucks in a good way!

After spending Monday night without an iota of sleep we also had back to school night on Thursday which didn’t finish until 10:00 PM. No rest for the wicked. As I wrote before I must have been a side-kick to Lucifer in a former life.

Mo is learning French and I am proud he joined the elementary school drama club.



{September 16, 2007}   The Soap Opera of my life

I am getting back into Eastenders, a British soap opera I liked when having an extended stay in England some 10 years ago with my first hubby (Mo’s bio-dad). Anyway, being stuck in my apartment waiting for the Gendarmes I finally figured out how to get my cable TV programmed in, and I have 3 English speaking channels. One is BBC Prime that has played Eastenders back to back. I have always liked the British TV because they have average looking people, with average jobs etc. unlike American soaps where everyone is stunningly beautiful and they are all doctors and lawyers and can die and come back several times and have identical cousins etc. But the Belgian people remind me, at least physically of American soap operas. The Gendarmes never came yesterday, and I hate to sound pessimistic but I don’t have faith that they will today. It would make things far too easy. I really feel like I wasted a day yesterday, but at least today is Sunday and nothing is open anyway, save a very lovely Sunday open air market (I have been twice, I really love it) and tourist stuff. Well, we could go to a movie or Brussels etc. But no, we are stuck waiting for the gendarmes which may not even show up.

So, I thought I’d tell you about my students as E Entertainment discusses movies stars in French (actually this helps my French understanding even though it really doesn’t help my speaking of the romantic tongue).

In my 12th grade IB class I have Laurits (who is playing the gorgeous teacher all the girls have a crush on in UTDS). He is French. His friend Milan is ½ French, ½ Italian. Then there is Emilie who is Swedish, Rebecca who is English, Allison-American (she is my female lead, young beautiful English teacher Sylvia Barrett), Sasha who is ½ Belgian, ½ American but has always lived in Belgium, Nehal I believe is from Pakistan. Abby is also American. In my 11th grade class I have Boone (South Carolina), Quinn, Nathan (Dallas Texas), Natalie (Seattle area) and Alex who are American, Chris who is Northern Irish, Mikhel who is from the Caribbean, Lilly and Kai are German and Jose I think is from Argentina. Andrew I believe is ½ American ½ British. Most of them are ½ and ½ like my own child. Anyway, it makes for an interesting “Speak the Speech” when we experiment with each other’s accents. I don’t think I could even attempt all the other nationalities in my lower grade classes, but I do have a lot of Swedish people, Africans (Namibia, Zimbabwe) some Koreans, and even a few Russians. Let me tell you the days are interesting!

It is funny to work accents with all the students who have authentic ones. Really to them I have an accent! And some are hard to decipher as they are mixes of nationalities. Here we are much more world orientated, and involved in world issues. In America sometimes we tend to only think of American things. Here we think globally. Even though most of the students are well off and come from diplomatic type families they are all really involved in aiding others; such as supporting schools in Africa, a giraffe sanctuary, wheel chairs for the needy etc. It’s all part of their commitment to the IB (International Baccalaureate).

My hubby Sam phones me daily, sometimes several times, but I told him last night that I could not go two years without seeing him. He hopes to come at Christmas and work something out if I plan to stay. But if we don’t work something out I will want to come back to America, or wherever he is. I guess you just never know. All is well and exciting but missing the love of my life is difficult. This is the soap opera that is my life. Maybe I need to be on an episode of Eastenders.



{September 15, 2007}   Act I UTDS

Blocking is going well, we are ahead of schedule. My cast is so perfect. I have been having so much fun with them in character exercises! I had them all introduce themselves and tell about their home lives and how they came to be at Calvin Coolidge High School, and add brothers, sisters etc. according to given circumstances and their own imaginations. Then after finishing blocking the first act, I had them improv as if Sylvia and Paul were putting on a production of Macbeth and all the cast was there to audition or help (staff etc). I have never laughed so hard! They were fantastic! I am really lucky to have such a great cast! I also had them (those in my IB classes) each do an emotional construct of the show, then a director’s concept. Their work for the most part is on the level of college students. It makes my job easier for not as much writing corrections. Some of their ideas were so good, I wish I had thought of them myself. Then I went back and re-read my concept and I remembered why I chose to do it as I have, and that is because I am a teacher and want to remain truthful to that, but some of the abstract concepts were really interesting.

 

I am now at home awaiting the police visit, but they could come anytime between now and 5:00 PM and tomorrow between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM which really blows my day as Saturday is the only day for shopping etc. So I have cleaned and organized, written in my thesis journal (previous bit) and now here I am. So TTFN!



et cetera