The Second Workshop…

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Yesterday was a frantic day. I spent the morning trying to catch up on emails, etc. and then rushed over to the US Deputy Chief of Mission’s residence for lunch with him, folks from the American Embassy, and other Fulbrighters currently in Singapore. Fantastic and inspiring group of people! Unfortunately, I made horrible sweat-inducing mistake of taking the bus to the luncheon; I had to walk about 2 km on a very hot day…

I had to leave the luncheon early to rush over to Victoria Junior College to meet with the students prior to our second workshop with elders from Touch Senior Activities Centre.

Two of the five VJC participants were not able to attend yesterday’s session (yikes!), so, dur to Jaclyn’s quick thinking, three other theatre studies students were recruited to participate.

The workshop went really well. Everyone is becoming more comfortable now. Fantastic.

All ten of the elders were there and greeted us with smiles, handshakes, hugs. They all said they were happy to see us, and several of them brought photo albums and personal memorabilia to share with the students.

I started the workshop with a check in circle (sort of Playback Theatre based) and a physical warm up activity. After about 10 minutes, I turned the class over to the students. They had designed two activities to lead, and did the facilitating on their own.

The first activity included small group work – a reminiscene activity and the short “charade” type presentations reflecting different style of entertainment. Each small group (of 4 or 5) presented their charade and the rest of the participants guessed the entertainment type.

The second pair of students facilitated the second activity. The participants went back into their small groups, and each person shared movies or songs they enjoyed. The group chose a scene from a movie they all knew and presented the scenes to the rest of the group.

After this activity I led the group through an improvisational theatre game for the last 5 minutes of the session.

I was really impressed with how easily the students led the group, and how well their activities worked. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

When we returned from the session, I sat down with the students and talked through the workshop and helped them design the next one. Several of them remarked that the elders seemed more comfortable this session, but that not everyone participated as fully in the performance of scenes. We strategized about how to vary the activities next time, and brainstormed some ways to improve facilitation.

As we move forward into the next workshops, I want to push the participants further in their theatre skill and storytelling development, using an exchange of personal narratives in the creation of drama. It is my hope that at the end of our project we will have some scenes to share with an audience of family members and students.

Each student designed an activity for next week’s session and I helped them stitch the activities together. I will be involved less and less in the planning and facilitation process as the weeks continue.

Their students’ workshop for next week (theme: fashion) is really fantastic. I can’t wait to see how it works.

Because this project is my Fulbright capstone project, the students are being interviewed, photographed, etc during this process. They are also keeping personal journals about their experience in this work.

The following are some quotes from the students’ project participation journals from the first two sessions:

I hope that I can share some love with these elderly too. To let them know that they are not alone.

I always had the impression the elderly would be temperemental [sic] and grouchy sometimes, but all of them looked cheery and eager. This really lifted my spirits after school and made me more enthusiastic.

I am definitely eager to know more about Uncle Hway and Uncle Zhong, and for them to open up to me more, and that I would really develop empathy and greater respect for the elders.

What really touched me was the care they show to us students, waving and greeting us.

It’s really the joy I get from these simple sessions that I will never forget.

Theatre change works both ways, it changes both the group of facilitators and ‘audience,’ even if we ‘planned.’

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