Thursday, June 28, 2012

Change Begins with You and with Me: Guatemala Update 4

Olivia's final update from Guatemala- or more precisely, the Honduras airport- on June 17.

Well, the girls have performed for the very first time!  The performance this afternoon was really lovely.  We spent the first hour warming up, rehearsing trouble spots, and losing girls who ran away to the bathroom or to find their friends.  We did manage to start on time, though, even after the girls changed our “pasa la toca” exercise.  We close each rehearsal by standing in a circle, holding hands, with our eyes closed.  One person squeezes the hand of the person next to them, who passes the squeeze on to the person on the other side.  So it goes around the circle.  Today, the girls took the end of the activity to tell us how thankful they are and how much the program meant to them.  It was stunning.  We are thankful too, and we expressed our pride and love for all they have accomplished. 

One of our actresses gets ready for the spotlight.
Ida made a headshots poster for the girls to display! As part of this process, Ida took photos of each girl who is performing with her portrait lens, and we printed them out as 8 x 10s, attached the girls’ names, and put it on a big board for them.  The Board also has the name of the troupe, El Grupo Juvenil Transformando Vidas Con Fe (Young Women Changing Lives with Faith), and the name of the show, El Cambio Empieza Por Ti y Por Mi  (Change Begins with You and with Me).  The girls are going to bring it to the cultural and religious retreat in July for their second performance.  They loved it; it made them feel like the professionals they are.

Ida also made a video of our rehearsal process, which we showed after the performance.  It ended up being over 8 minutes long to incorporate everything we have done here.  The soundtrack was awesome- "Waka Waka," "Send Me on My Way," and "Jai Ho."  I introduced "Jai Ho" a week and a half ago, and the girls fell in love.  They made up their own dance to "Jai Ho," or as they call it, “Hai Ho.” (tee hee hee)
The show went really well.  The girls spoke out clearly, took their time, and hit all their marks. The staff and residents at Oasis loved it!  Beatrice, one of the Directors, came up to tell us how wonderful it was and how proud she was of these twelve girls.

As I have said, it takes a long time to get to Oasis.  We have had several drivers from a local taxi service, but one of the most common ones is a lovely man who often brings his wife and two children.  He has two little boys, Christian and Robin.  Christian is 2, and Robin is only a few months old.  We call Christina “Senor Serioso” because he always looks so contemplative.  Today, the most beautiful family in Guatemala (as we call them) drove us to Oasis- and they came in to see the show!  We had an invited audience, but it was so nice to see these little kids enjoying the hard work that our girls have put in.

After the show, we had a party with a big pink piƱata.  These girls seem so demure and composed until you put a broom handle at them and point them at something keeping them from candy!  It was really impressive to watch them swing madly, and dive immediately for the fallen candy with no fear.  Christian even got to take a swing, with some assistance.

So next steps; Oasis has an Arts Director for the first time!  She arrived in early June, and she is excited to continue the work with the theatre ensemble.  We left her with a bunch of printed and online resources, as well as our contact information so she can reach out whenever she needs to.  (Christina, Ilanna and I also may Skype into some of the rehearsals for the July show).  We also identified three of the older girls who are responsible and dedicated members of the group to serve as leaders.  These are the wonderful young women who would get the group to pay attention, who encouraged their peers to strive for perfection in the physical work, and many of whom wrote for the final play.  They are wonderful and will do a wonderful job to keeping this ensemble together!

It’s so hard to say goodbye, but I know we will be back to Guatemala.  We have made amazing contacts here, and now we know how to better serve the larger community.  We will visit Oasis again, if only for a short workshop session, and I know these young women will surprise us once again with their passion and talent.  I can’t wait for what they do next!

The Acting for Peace Team!
from left: Christina, Olivia, Ilanna, Turid, and Ida.


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