Journal: 19 March

Originally posted to Ask The Fire, 25 March 2018

It's the moment we've all been waiting for, folks.

Opening night at the Savoy. But first, the school day.

Naturally, I went in extraordinarily tired this morning--Niel, the lighting designer, and I went out for late-night coffee after the Sunday technical rehearsal, so I was out of the house for almost the entire day. But it's so easy to wake up while walking to school here. None of the dreary, it-should-be-light-already where-is-the-Sun mornings I was used to back in Illinois. It's all birds chirping, retirees having tea on their lawns and a faint smell of salt.

For the first two days of this week, up until the Tuesday markings due date, I'm still mostly observing. I've been given a few more arts and culture classes to stick around with until after the midweek public holiday, so I'm very much looking forward to a little more insight into South Africa's arts education. It's compulsory here, and much moreso than it is in America! Already a good start.

So the morning starts out with another general music class up in the auditorium loft. We're still working on theory with the Grade 9's, and I'm glad to see how much detail this classroom teacher goes into. She's covering instrumentation and voicing, but without glossing over alto and tenor clef--they're included! There's a nuanced yet grade-appropriate conversation about voicing! Very good. For the record, this is the same teacher I was with in last week's music class, and she's quickly becoming one of my favorite teachers.

And here's the first student-based observation: I have never seen so many kids complain about taking fine arts classes. Like, seriously? Be grateful you have them. There are American kids who haven't been offered a music class since the fifth grade. You're lucky you get to see so much fine art coverage. These classes are fun. They're relevant to your life. They're a healthy, welcome break from monotony. They give you insight into the things that make people cry, change their ways, move to new places, confess their loves and sins.

I'm not salty at all about this topic. Nope.

This part, after the first period, is where my day gets weird. I planned to go talk to my department head after this class so I could get the rest of the week planned out. Unfortunately, I went to the office immediately after class to pick up a third ticket for tonight's show (Maria wanted to bring another friend) and I found them absolutely swamped in ticket sales.

So naturally, I stuck around and sold tickets for two hours.

I'll say one thing: the school is making bank on the sales. Each ticket goes for R90 a piece, and there's some 240 seats in the venue. When I went in, opening night was close to sold out and Tuesday was down to four back-row seats. That bodes well!

After that, I went back to class for period 4. This was another general music class, though in a regular classroom with a different teacher. I'm a little concerned with how mild-mannered a lot of the teachers tend to be. This one just kind of weathered a lot of student misbehavior. I think I've said it before, but there's almost nothing teachers can do here to reprimand students before the point of assigning detention, and that makes me very nervous.

After this is another English class with a teacher who handles student disobedience in a completely different way, though it's another style that I dislike. He doesn't halt class waiting for students to calm down--he just keeps going on, which doesn't help anyone learn, just in a different way.

And the last class of the day...

Good lord, the last class.

I got in to a grade 10 English class and didn't see the teacher around. Being the nice student teacher I am, I decided to get the students started on their work before the teacher got back.

And the teacher didn't come back. Some 5 minutes into class, I finally found a plasma form on the desk with a single sentence about what I was meant to do, no class materials (had to dig for them myself) and no information about what the class had done previously. Thanks! I hate it!

So that went over horribly. But I struggled through, and I got some firsthand about the students and their chatty habits.

It's not that the other teachers aren't trying to control them. It's that these students are trained by experience that, if the teacher tells you to stop talking, you don't have to stop talking until the first detention is assigned. And if you don't care about detention, then you don't stop talking. It's insanely hard to get anything done without getting a strong start in a class. If you didn't stick that first landing, you may as well forget progress for the rest of the period.

I realize I'm being a little defeatist, but that's honestly the worst class I've lead in quite a while. From now on, I'm going to make sure to check in with all my CTs at the start of a day, just to make sure there's no surprise Plasmas for material I haven't looked at before in my life.

So now that the day's over, we get to move on to opening night! I got home and immediately locked myself out of the house. Took a forced (1 1/2 hour) porch nap and got to the theater in just enough time to finish painting for the first show.

I've painted a faux-neon sign, a burger shop, a bar, a library, a rusty car and a series of protest signs for this show--that's all the set pieces except the furniture, the printed church window and the flooring. Those projects range from concept-to-product to touchup work to reimagination. Some places needed a new set of straight lines and a better paint mix. Others just needed a little detail job. Others still needed a full coverage coat over an old design. I'm really eager to see how they hold up in performance, but since I'm backstage, I'll settle for feedback.

The opening night crowd was amazing. No issues with the flow, either--there were a few here-and-there sound issues and I did have to sprint for a haybale at one point, but otherwise, everything went very well. Understandable, the students were elated. A great end to the night.

And now I get to go home and pass out immediately.

Note: It rained today, and I found out that all those shells in Maria's yard are actually snails. I'm very glad I didn't pick any up. Also, I've never seen so many snails in my life. How does one yard host so many snails? It's an affront to God.

<< Previous Next >>