In the second phase of the drama classes I am facilitating, I threw caution to the wind and decided to have them write and present plays connected to the 5 core values of Liger: Stewardship, Ingenuity, Integrity, Optimism, and Determination. I liken this process to pulling out into traffic in Phnom Penh on my moped- I sort of glance at the overall picture and gather in as much information as possible with my 'third' eye, shrugging off the zillion possible obstacles and dangers that could easily be my death, put on my most stoic Buddha gaze, and gun it.
Needless to say, there have been hairy moments, such as the actuality of, through a translator, discussing what such a concept as 'Integrity' means (with 8-10 year olds, some from the sticks and some from the city, some just a rung or two below the Khmer middle class and some just a rung or two above abject poverty), never mind what the heck I meant by 'making up original characters and a situation' that 'said something about it'.
If for a moment I dwelt on the potentials for catastrophe getting on Monivong Boulevard each morning, I would never leave my apartment (actually, I have already made contact with two mopeds, one pedestrian, and a Toyota Camry). Traffic here frankly possesses one of the most erratic and challenging set of seemingly irrational rules. If the US traffic is arithmetic, Thailand is advanced calculous, and Phnom Penh is the elusive Grand Unified Theory that Einstein died trying to unravel.
The students were initially stunned and overwhelmed. But these are special kids, and they took their fear and moved forward, trying to perceive the parameters of what I was requesting, trying to locate the 'flow'. Over night approximately 90% came with some form of story idea and characters to present to their group. Here is a student working with Reksmey to elaborate his ideas on the board.
I had originally conceived of a voting process to pick the two plays each class would write and produce, but upon hearing their ideas I thought it best for Reksmey and I to choose. More on that, and the drama that ensued, to come.