Monday, March 10, 2008

Blog Update March 2nd & 9th, 2008

March 9, 2008

Well. Anther busy week here in Majuro, and another week closer toward the play. I think that one of the things that I am most amazed by is how much support there continues to be from the local community. That - and the fact that we have an amazing group of kids this year and every week as both Jess and I get to know them better, it puts it all in perspective… why we are actually here.

The week’s highlights!

Fundraising continues to be moving really well. This week we raised $1150 with support from a private donations from two of the yachties, The American Ambassador, North Pacific Insurance, the National Telecom Authority.

Jess has been continues to be leading some great rehearsals. We have blocked up to Act III, Scene II now and the one of our students is off book and we are pushing for the others to be off book by up to this point in the play by next week.

We have branched out and are doing a number of initiatives to support the local community:
Yesterday we teamed up with a group of over 40 Japanese Volunteers (JOVC) and students from Delap Elementary to participate in an island clean-up and managed to collectively fill a full truck load of garbage and recycling! We followed this activity up with an hour long theater based workshop that looked at environmental issues, which the students really enjoyed.

Jess led an issues based drama workshop the week before with Youth to Youth in Health, an organization that uses theater for education about health issues. She led a forum theater based workshop which was incredibly well received!

Our next cast community event is planned for next Friday and we hope to be able to work with the Marshall Islands visitors authority on an airport trash clean-up and show do a movie screening afterwards. Mack and Jason, our two Assistant Directors are taking the lead on this project.

Media Team – Dan has finished off the first of the documentary films in the series! We will be screening it tomorrow for the cast. Loren is now coordinating the journalism team. We have been talking with the College of the Marshal Islands and one of their radio broadcast journalism classes may be working with V7AB, the local radio station to air stories on the project. The media team has been very busy this week doing a series of interview with cast members for the second documentary film we hope to release… stay tuned!

Photography workshop number II was a success. I took a small group of kids out on Saturday to train them in the basics of

Kristin’s went on tour with her rugby team and was able to secure a first place in the international tournament held in Guam!!

And the yacht team that I joined today won Meico Yacht Club monthly race today!

Please Consider a donation to support the project at


March 2nd, 2008
Highlights of the past week:

Another good week in fundraising! This past week drew in just under $1500 in cash and in-kind donations. Supporters this week include: PII, RRE, US Ambassador Clyde Bishop, EZ Price, Deloitte and Touche, Monica’s Restaurant, and North Pacific Insurance
Special thanks to Alson who has been working very hard to get us the first half of the script translated into Marshallese. The kids have really enjoyed getting into the text and are making great progress now through to Act III.

Our Production interns are stepping into the limelight now and have really impressed us with their willingness to step up to the plate and assist in directing. Jess structured a wonderful devised theater piece and Jason, Dustin, and Martha eagerly took on leadership in choreographing the rescue on the ship wreck.

The media team got a little taste of a photography workshop I led a week ago – check out some great photos by Barelson, Jabenu, Jason, and Oscar below.
We’re excited to welcome Hemant on board to coordinate our music team!
The cast had a first go at some improv theater with a workshop I led last Thursday and had a great time hurling status insults and praises at each other
Later that evening I introduced them to a night of treachery, politics, and deception over a delightful game of mafia for our cast’s first social event
On Friday Jess led a fabulous murder mystery dinner party for some of the volunteer crew and folks who have been helping us out with the play
Kristin’s been working some magic on our budget and getting official approval for (fingers crossed) the new convention center as a performance venue. Let me tell you - I appreciate accountants more than ever before! She’s away for 2 weeks in Guam at a Rugby tournament so send a little virtual cheer her way!
And this past weekend, I managed to squeeze in a few lessons on sailing outrigger canoes and snag a wakeboarding session with the guys from the Indies Trader – big surf holiday cruiseship. There is something magical about being out on the water in the lagoon.

After putting together a plan for the media team, I was keen to look designing a basic training for the students on the media team, working in combination with Dan & Loren I offered a “Developing a photographic Eye” workshop – think a 101 in shooting still shots while Dan and Loren gave the kids a practical workshop becoming familiar with and using the video camera equipment.

Teaching Photography

Given that it was the first time I have ever designed a workshop for teaching photography it was an interesting challenge. Where do you start with a group of 14-18 year olds, some of whom have never touched a camera in their live before?
I decided that a logical place to start would be to look at elements that make up a good picture and began to piece together and lesson outline (see below – for those of you who are also photographers, I’d more than appreciate your comments on the outline). In order to discuss the different topics, I picked out a few example photos that I had taken on previous projects – the Youth Bridge Global project in Bosnia and in China. Part of the choice to use my own photos was so I could elaborate on the context of where these photos were being taken, but also because I could describe the process that I went through in taking certain photos. After illustrating an example or two of some of the technical vocabulary that I wanted them to become familiar with and begin to conceptually appreciate, I then had them describe to me what they saw in another sampling of photos.

Next came the practical application. First was a walk through in care and handling of the equipment – it’s not easy parting with your own personal camera, but after making very clear how expensive the equipment was and how to take care of it I had to accept that you can only be so protective if you really want someone to learn – at the end of the day, you have to trust them.

The next task was to give them an assignment. Working in pairs with a camera, I told them that they have to alternate photos after taking five shots and their task was to go and take at least 30 photos in three categories. The first was to take ten pictures of a landscape photos. This involved thinking about elements of composition, balance, light, etc. The second task was to take ten photos close-up (still-life shots at less than a meter away). The final task was to take ten portraits of people – by far the hardest challenge and probably the most fun for the kids too.
The amazing thing about digital photography is that kids can make no mistakes! The other thing is that once you give them the vocabulary (and the conceptual understanding) of what makes for a good photo, they just roll them off. I think the thing that I was most impressed by was a. the abstract eye that a couple of them had, and b. the willingness some of the kids had to go up to random strangers and ask to take their photo. In some ways, taking pictures of human subjects is one of the hardest challenges in photography and it was the tip of this ice-berg that I wanted to get the students into. “Walk up to someone. If they are older, then smile and ask them if you can photograph them,” I told them. “Get close though – I want you to be less than a meter away if you are taking a portrait.” For me, I have realized that one of the biggest fears that a photographer must overcome is the fear of rejection. And part of that is cultivating a sense of sensitivity when taking pictures of strangers, but also a sense of connection. Good pictures require a certain level of trust to be built first.

* All the photos on this posting were taken by students during the photography workshop


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