Feb 17th Blog update:
7 things to get excited about after the first week:
1. Auditions went so well and there is a tremendous level of interest amongst the kids in being a part of this year’s play
2. We have successfully cast 33 speaking parts
3. The youth leadership program has been launched and we have a core team of interns that have been selected to work on the project
4. A local fundraising plan has been developed and we have a list of 100+ businesses and individuals to approach to solicit support from on the project
5. The documentary team – Dan Caccavano is our team coordinator, and a curriculum is being developed / planned
6. Jess has taken on the role of Artistic Director and led a fantastic first rehearsal on the shipwreck scene.
7. Kristin has taught me how to make damn good humus & I speared my first fish while swimming in the ocean.
A snapshot of the first week… Auditions. Location: the School Library
In another time and another context “Rolly polly” would be his name. 5 ft squashed version of a man into a pre-pubescent teenage boy. Coaxed on stage, about to begin an improvised scene in which he is acting as the imbecilic slave to a authoritative master. Opens his mouth to say a line. Immediately he bursts out laughing. The entire room is in hysterical fits of laughter. Rolly polly cannot contain himself and actually runs right out the door.
Enter Franklin. Enter Marshallese Steve Erkle. His pants hiked up so high you’d have to wonder how he managed to walk on stage. Now think big arms. Big gestures. Another round of ruckus laughter – a glance over at Jess (our Artistic Director) - a definite cast for Dr. Pinch
Allow us to now drift our attention to the chair behind. To some (perhaps rolly polly) a beast of man – to others, a romantic that would charm birds out of their winter nest - Barren, the senior who at the drop of his hat felt ever so at ease to pour his soul and heart into the lines
Antipholus of Syracuse : “Sing, Siren, for thyself I will dote.
Spread o’er the silver waves thy golden hairs
And as a bed I’ll take them and there lie
And in that glories supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die
Let Love, being light, be drowned if she sink”
(I take a quick look around and the girls are all awe-struck. I wonder if they are still breathing)
Her hand still resting on the curve of his arm. Time standing ever so still yet thoughts that brushed gently against a subconscious desire that taboo’s fingers beckoned ever so slightly. If temptation were the light of a candle a candle this would be the moment right before it was to blown out. Her hand slowly left his arm as she tilted her head ever so slightly – if eyes could have spoken, “try me” they would have coyly implored.
Julie as Luciana: What, are you made that you do reason so?
Now an excerpt from our casting discussion 3 hours later in the day:
“Barren. YES YES YES. Antipholus for sure”
2hrs and 20 roles later…
“Ah Jess… yes. I know. He’s rolly polly but he’s just so funny! Think about it… we need a few characters on our crew (well… ok, we’ve already got more than a few!) I vote for a small non-speaking role. He’s good energy!”
“Vinny, that’s all very well, but everytime he gets on stage all he will do is simply burst out laughing and he’ll completely distract all the other characters!”
“True… but he’s just so damn funny! I love the kid!”
You get the idea. Now imagine 60 or so kids wanting trying out of for acting parts – not an easy process wildling it down. Now add another 40 or so interested in being a part of one of the teams including music, dance, media (documentary film & journalism) so eager that one of the ninth grade kids even trails around us the entire afternoon until the innocent question finally comes out “how can I become a movie star??”…. “Well Vahid… you’re on the right track. Just come out to the play auditions”
And now a moment to reflect on the big picture – where is all came from.
We’re truly privileged to have Andrew, a long time friend and mentor of mine, Founder of both the Youth Bridge Global Program and the Dartmouth Volunteer Teaching Program here in the Marshall Islands joining us for the first 10days of the project. Consider it the passing of the torch. Andrew has lit the flame here in the Marshalls and the light is indeed being passed on to this year’s team. Been having some wonderful discussions about who to involve in the project, how to involve them, how to develop the leadership program, and how and when every piece of the puzzle fits together. Zooey, an Education Professor from Dartmouth who came over with Andrew to run various workshops at schools and the College of the Marshall Islands has also been wonderful support to the team and it we are all sad that they will be taking off on Wednesday.