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I’m a Bilingual Playwright (Not Really, But…)

Well, most of the camp is done. I’m not really under the kind of stress I was the first week or two. Today was a prety good day.

One of the problems with camp in the past was that the drama section of it was a single-day event; kids were encouraged to learn their lines over a weekend off, rehearsed the play in the morning, and performed—in a huge hall, for all the other kids—for several hours straight. The problems inherent in that model were numerous:

  1. Kids tended not to learn their lines in time, or found it difficult to do so.
  2. It takes more than one rehearsal to put together a play worth doing.
  3. Kids only tend to really understand what a drama is about if they have practiced hard and put one together themselves; then, they have a better chance of actually understanding that they’re supposed to shut up, sit still, watch, and listen to the dramas in front of them.
  4. Kids have trouble, even when they “get it”, with sitting around for 2 hours watching kids do plays in a huge hall where they can’t hear any of the actors speak.
  5. Teachers tended to grasp a lot of the above inherently and just sort of gave up on the drama being anything but a programmed exercise, camp program filler.

In idle discussions after the torture that was drama day in Winter Camp, I and a few other teachers started noting these facts. I think someone suggested Drama Day needed to be cut, but I was of a different opinion, as were a few others. I felt that the Drama component should be expanded into a bigger part of the camp. There was, initially, some hesitation and worry about whether it was a way of lessening teachers’ duties, but I insisted that it was a good idea. In planning the camp schedule, I added several play rehearsal times, and made drama day the final “work day” of camp. (Tomorrow, the last day of camp, is a full day, but it’s a test in the morning and a kind sports megaevent in the afternoon, with a party in the evening. It’s more of a “play” day.)

I also insisted on a few other changes, like a major change in how the kids performed. Instead of performing on a big stage in a hall, I argued that immediacy would draw the kids in. So we split the performing groups into two different venues: very big classrooms. The kids were to sit in a semicircle, right in front of the performance space, which would ensure they could hear the actors but also that the action would be more immediate (and more interesting) to them.

Well, add one more thing: parents. It was reasoned early on that if Drama Day was to be a bigger component of the camp, and essentially the day that ended the real “workdays” of the camp, that perhaps it would be a good day to invite parents.

All of this was realized today. The kids performed their plays, which were by and large excellent, hilarious, and well-done. Predictable complaints about role size aside, they mostly seemed to enjoy it. One of the plays I adapted for Winter Camp actually ended up being performed, wondefully, I might add.

But something very special happened afterward. The camp teachers performed a play… in Korean. It was a play I basically wrote myself, with a little esitorial feedback and a few spelling corrections from Lime. The performance was very funny, from what I could tell, though I’ll know more when I see the video tape.

I’m planning to upload the script to a Korean-learners’ blog site. For me, it was a kind of summation of all I’ve learned in Korean, plus a little more. I’m quite proud of having managed to write it at all, and to have had it performed, even just for kids, was a big pleasure for me.

More on that later… maybe I’ll even spellcheck it later in the evening and post it tonight.

But yeah, the basic summary is, I wrote play in Korean and it was pretty-well, and hilariously, performed by a bunch of foreigners here in Jeonju today. How many people get to brag about something like that?

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