London, Day 1

Today marked the actual beginning of the Drama and Youth Study Abroad Program. Right off the bat, there’s a lot for me to unpack in terms of what I’ve been experiencing here in London so far, but there’s still so much ahead so I’ll keep this concise (while I dry my hair, because I can’t be bothered to purchase a hair dryer, no matter how cheap it is).

On getting to London

I wouldn’t say it was “eventful” in a negative way, but there were certain things that happened that were a very mild, but odd mix of amusement, exasperation, and cynicism.

First was, whenI traded seats with a young lady’s friend in the plane who was in an aisle seat (as was I), the lady who was sitting beside her took that seat and with no introduction nor apology nor whatever, I was forced into the middle. It’s not that I minded being in the middle (because all I really wanted to do was sleep), but I was just so appalled at the rudeness of it all. I didn’t speak up though (major weakness, as I’ve identified in the CPCP incident). It took an attempt at a nap and a rage writing episode to cool down and no longer care too much about what I felt was a dick move.

Second, when I arrived at immigration, the officer was actually friendly, but I got asked the awkward question of “Where did you learn English?” I was a bit taken aback at first—maybe I’ve been too long in America—, but in retrospect, I ask the same things, “Where did you learn Filipino?” or “Where did you learn Japanese?” There’s really nothing wrong with that question. I was just overthinking it at the time, so it became a thing.

Riding the Tube was lovely and melted all these away.

About our flat

I room with two summer-only students. They’re lovely. They have a pre-established relationship and thus chose to share a room. I have a room all to myself, which is great, but I do feel a bit invisible. Still, it’s just the first day and we have many more days to go. (Also, I always feel people don’t like me, like, I feel that’s always where they’re starting, so I acknowledge that this is my issue.)

On the actual first day

I’ll go through bullet points here or else I’ll go on forever.

  • We worked with drama education specialist Geoff Readman. I’ll sound very generic, but I do mean it: he’s lovely and I learned a lot; the lessons that resonated with me the most, I elaborate a little bit on in the succeeding bullet points.
  • Geoff mentioned “giving the young people the ownership of the work” often, which I feel is of utmost importance. It’s very Freirean. A way this is done is through dramatic conventions, for example, teacher-in-role, where the power structure of a classroom is clearly changed: both the teacher and the young people are in the fiction exploring and naming their world together at a real-time pace.
  • Geoff also differentiated process drama and conventions approach, at least in his point of view. Process drama is akin to Dorothy Heathcote’s freeform way where she takes her cues from the community, while conventions are identifiable, nameable, structured dramatic forms that can be applied to a process drama, but can also be applied to a lesson, for instance, that has an outcome set by the teacher.
  • On a different note, although I’ve been aware of this since Chicago, working in groups always has its challenges, but the more I work in groups, I feel, the more I notice how I could improve as a facilitator. In the first group work, for instance, I don’t think the three of us were clear about what we thought the project output should be. If we’ve clarified that right off the bat at first, I don’t think we would have floundered as much (and I wouldn’t have had to subject the class to a lame ass story).
  • Apparently, I’m not so bad at making sound effects. Thank you, CUNY CAT Interactive Storytelling.
  • I want to unpack this when I’m less required to sleep: I have prejudices about theatre and theatre people that I think I’ll have to wrestle with while I’m here in the United Kingdom. (This isn’t to say I didn’t or wouldn’t have to wrestle with it in the United States—I most certainly do—but because I’m now immersed in it—without much choice to what I’m exposed to—I have to face it.) As far as I know, my advisor probably thinks I’m some kind of snob (or am overly critical) because I wasn’t too enthusiastic about tonight’s musical.
  • First, I am naturally critical; I do my best not to be. That I admit.
  • Second, on our walk back I was still trying to articulate why I was just “okay” with that musical: it was definitely great fun, but I said a lot of shitty things as I was trying to explain the parts that weren’t working for me.
  • Connected to the second, so I eventually found my way to what I wanted to say when I was talking to C, a fellow student. I landed on “the capitalization of drag culture.” It’s always a red flag for me when people bandwagon on a trendy culture; a part of me is afraid that something is loss or something is co-opted.  (I’ll elaborate on this more in a future post.) I’m not the only one who thinks this way, but based on how the rest of the group seemed to react, mine is probably an unpopular opinion.

Rose Bruford tomorrow!