Day 10 ~ August 1

Notes from our latest rehearsal:

Monkeys – don’t throw the bow and arrow at the Hunter

Family – work on the fake slap and go over blocking for necklace trick

Ancestors – better, but they still look a little like bad ballet – work on tomorrow morning.  Rosette has to stop grinning if she is going to be believable as a ghost.

Jackie – play with the monkeys.  Are we getting actual bananas or sticking with the balls?  (Note to self:  don’t ask Claude “where do you keep your balls during this scene?”)

Drug dealers – articulation!! come downstage during Kinyarwanda rap section

Snakes have to be louder!!  We want to hear those words.  Will costumes be ready by tomorrow morning?

Quiet backstage everybody !!!  Also, if you peek out at the audience – THEY WILL SEE YOU.

… and so on.

It’s strange how life divides itself into little categories.   A month ago I was in a Shakespeare Festival but now that seems like a different life.   Two weeks from now I’ll be back in Iowa, moving into a new house and getting immersed in a project about veterans and this will all seem unreal.  I spent the day wrangling 25 new actors, trying to stress the importance of rehearsing with costumes and props the day before a performance and leading articulation exercises (Rwandans mix R’s and L’s so “rice” becomes “lice” and “love” becomes “ruv”, etc.)

“What’s the French word for rehearsal?  Repetition!!!”  I think I said that about five times today.

“You have 5 – count them FIVE seconds to get off stage.  This is the top of the show folks – we need to see energy!!  Let’s do it again…”

Directing a brand new play with three directors, twenty five new actors, 30+ costumes (all created/found by the students) in ten days is a bit like a three ring circus.  Usually all three of us are working at once.  We stop a scene and I go to talk to Peace about the tempo of her song while Sean gives Jackie some new blocking and Didi works with the Street Vendors on pronunciation.  Or Didi goes over the lines with the Monkeys, Sean grabs the Narrator/MC’s to remind them of pace and I grab Liliane and the Ancestors and rework the timing of their entrance.  It’s amazing that we haven’t stepped on each others creative toes yet but we haven’t – – there’s just too much to do.  The students also direct each other – – sometimes from on stage (got to talk to them about that).   We also have to remind them that they can’t yell “louder” (in English, French or Kinyarwanda) to each other when the performance is happening – they’re kind of enjoying that I think. 

Tomorrow we perform for the people who are in the Village.  Then we have two days to fine tune and get ready for the big performance on Friday.  We started to worry today about the audience.  This whole time we’ve been drilling them on “volume volume volume – there could be 200 people there!!” but what if there are only 20?  My heart will break a little for them.  If you know anyone in Kigali… 6:30pm, Ishyo Centre for the Arts in Kigali – tell them to be there.

Other highlights of the day:  ate an avocado that fell off the tree we pass each morning.  Also had fresh papaya.  And a bucket bath!!  We’ve been here for ten days.  Today was my 3rd bathing experience.  There’s a water shortage in East Africa – you’ve probably heard.  Water is being rationed in Rwanda right now.  It’s on and off here and we’re getting used to saving some in bottles and buckets when it comes on.   I’ve become so aware of water.  A few days ago we used one bucket of water to bathe and do laundry and even then I had to stop and think whether I’d pour the entire bucket down the toilet or save it for flushing multiple times.

Enjoy your water.  And if anyone wants to send us a pizza, we’d happily accept.  I’ll bring you back some excellent coffee in return.