In Gbarnga, here we are stretching wide to begin our physical theatre work for the day. This group is a mixture of inexperienced students and the Student Instructors. We found that the most inexperienced students learned a great deal this day in the response writing, possibly as a result of having a close experience training alongside the Student Instructors. This class lasted 3 hours, a long chunk of time, but the most reasonable time frame given our environmental circumstances.
We were fortunate on this day that we were not at the mercy of the torrential rains that happen at Liberia during this time of year. On other days, in order to train several classes in theatre, music, sewing, and dance, we have to break up the large group of maybe 30 students into smaller groups that work in different buildings. This building is one used very often, a school house, and is supplied with chairs and desks, however not all of the spaces we used were as welcoming. Some days, the rain came down so hard that we could not hear one another's voices below the tin roof panels and lost entire classes.
I did find at times that students lacked endurance for the constant movement work on our feet. The movement training of western theatre uses different muscles and movement than that which these kids use in daily life, so some struggle was there to encourage them to continue from time to time. That said, the weird things that I might ask them to do were part and parcel of the overall oddness which this training presented in contrast to their way of life.
I often wondered how fair it was to ask them to use so much energy, to deplete their energy, when they possibly had no way to refuel adequately at the end of the day. I wondered if my presence was an imposition of something western and inappropriate in their lives constantly. I wondered if the exchange of information would help any them in any useful ways. I wondered if I wasn't just doing all of this in their names but actually might be the only one receiving benefit. Now, 6 months later, I still wonder all of these things.