In the African-American culture, throwing a shoe at someone, typically after a performance of some sort, is a sign of appreciation. There may be a knock on the dressing room door. Before you have time to say “Come in!”, the door opens and you have to duck as fellow cast members or friends from the audience throw their shoes at you. “You tore it up, girl!”, “That was fierce!”, “You blew me away…”, may be comments heard.

In the Arab culture the throwing of a shoe expresses something very different, as was made clear last week (Bush in Iraq dodging a flying shoe, thrown by a local journalist).

I wonder what may be thrown when Barak Hussein Obama visits the Near East in years to come? And what the significance of such an act may be?


Lebanon day-by-day 2

Above: Omar’s Baalbek boys (or: “How to make something other than a terrorist of a refugee boy”)

Camilla and Ibrahim started the day with acrobatics training for the teammembers in the south, in a hall in Borj el-Shemali Camp in Sour. Pelle joined at lunch and the group split up in two, for acrobatics with a story for the four Rashidieh acrobats (Camilla) and clowntraining for Usama, Amne, Bahaa and Jaffra (Pelle). To incorporate a story in the acrobatic movements proved a bit too difficult a concept for the acrobats to handle, and it was clear they will need assistance to put new numbers together. The clowning went very well and even jaffra managed to concentrate and avoid making faces all the time. The concept of the clownnose, knowing where the focus is and doing one thing at the time, was introduced. This creates a platform for play with the audience, in a real way.
C., I. and P. went further south to Rashidieh camp and stayed over night.

We traveled up to Borj el-Barasjni Camp, near Beirut, where several team-members were supposed to lead groups. But two centers had canceled the training (or the agreements were not clear) without telling Ibrahim, so there were no kids there. Instead we used the time to give acrobatics training for 6 ToTs while Pelle and Ibrahim studied Jamal working with her big group. She did games and the kids enjoyed it. after a while some of the boys had a difficult time concentrating, partly because of several guests in the room and center-employee who took upon herself to discipling the roudier boys in the middle of exercises. I led a couple of games, which was difficult when not speaking the language. But the kids appreciated the visit and were very curious and contact-seeking, like so may kids here.
we ended the day with a short presentation of Circuna at a scout-group, where kids were requited to a new group, starting in January.

A full day of training with the whole ToT. After warm-up games we sat down and watched as the short homework scenes were presented. C and P gave comments and some performed again. Suddenly Ibrahim told us we had to change location. We walk, carrying mattresses through the very narrow alleys of the camp and ended up at a small space with low tables and toys for kids. In this cramped space we continued looking at scenes and working with them. This long time of sitting and listening proved to be too much for some of the ToTs and concentration faded, which led to angry reprimands from Ibrahim. Some of the members just can’t help themselves and forget their part in adding to the work, with ambition and effort. Because of moving space there was no time for acrobatics, unfortunately. In the future it will be wize to divide the group before doing mentally/intellectually demanding work. In full group one has to make them sweat.

Yet another location was offered us, in Mar Elias Camp in Beirut for another day of big workshop. We focused on theatre games in the morning, led by C and P. When concentration was fading, we had to use pedagogical strategies for children, like holding hands and doing things rhythmically, to gain everyone’s attention again. It is sad, but some of the ToTs are not able to work as one would expect of young adults and they need special methods. We finished off by letting those who preferred acrobatics do that with Camilla and the others did clowning with Pelle. It was almost impossible  to do clowning in the small space we were offered this day, but the team seemed happy to finally get to move their bodies!

A much needed day off.

Camilla is sick and Ibrahim didn’t find a suitable space in Beirut, so we had to cancel the acrobatics training for the ToT girls…
Pelle and Ibrahim went far east, to Baalbek, to give clowntraining to Omar and to observe him and Ahmed lead their group of boys. Omar was given some ideas for clown-routines, as “Tissue-over-head” and “Two clowns, one chair”. The group of boys worked very well and Omar controlled and inspired them in a great way. The work is more theatre oriented, but all the boys are said to juggle 3 balls! Ages 11-13. Omar tries to add girls to the group in the spring.

Camilla flew back to Sweden. Pelle and Ibrahim had a day of rest and administration.