Once the assignment of writing a skit based on the Liger values was conveyed, more or less, and the students wrote up and presented their story "proposals", Reksmey and I sifted through them, looking for workable skits. We sought variety and creativity- some animal skits, some serious dramas- and we also considered which students we felt could successfully guide the others and see the project through with minimal adult support. Our choices ended with some bruised egos and a few complaints- they certainly are all 'bright', but they are also certainly still 'kids'- and a highly ambitious lot for the most part (I'll delve into some interesting exceptions at a later date). Now all we had to do was write 11 scripts, rehearse them, and produce them in 7 school days! We began with a talk and a handout Reksmey translated about scenes and action and character motivation. Here is a video of the students working on fleshing out the scripts and writing scenes:
This was perhaps the most challenging part-a few groups lost energy and motivation, and a few altered their story beyond recognition, so that Reksmey and I would ask after the rehearsal- What happened to the scene where they are all XYZ? and it would turn out they had cut it entirely, rendering the story more or less unintelligible.
I am light years away from understanding the Khmer sensibility on any deep level, and that goes for the sense of humor and story and suspense. I spent most of the week just trying to get- a beginning, middle, and end to each story- and a sense that the character (s) had faced some obstacle or had some experience and been changed by it.
Overall the kids were fabulous at taking advice and listened with open hearts. Two boys working together at melding their two ideas got together and announced that they had "quit". I took some responsibility but told them that in fact their play was about the Liger Value of "Determination" and they were indeed NOT going to quit. This meant Choua had to come in during the lunch break and write for two hours, which he did without complaint.
Now it was outside and to the markets to collect costume materials and props. The students were getting very excited by this point and dragged in half the dead branches and leaves to recreate a "jungle" for one play. We went to the building guys for bits of wire and old straws and tools. The cushions from the lounge served as 4 "homes" in three different plays.
I managed to get a $50 budget for head bands and wigs and face paint, and that meant I had to kick in another $20 of my own because for some reason it was very important for the actors in one play to have real fruit for their market scene (which they all devoured post play and may have been the diabolical plan all along).
It was suddenly Friday and time for our only dress rehearsal.