Thursday, April 20, 2006

Playing Catch-up Part 3

4/10/2006: The New Students

Schools in Japan have Entrance Ceremonies to welcome new students each April. Starfish High is no different. Fifty new students became Starfish High School students today. The setup was pretty similar to the graduation ceremony from the previous month. The teachers sat stage right, various guests and dignitaries (including the MAYOR! wow) sat stage left, the new students marched into the auditorium with their new home room teachers and sat in the center section, students' names were called, they came up and received their student IDs and a copy of the New Testament, a passage from the Bible was read, songs were sung, speeches were made, and I fought valiantly to stay awake.

I think I did okay this time.

Anyway, we're pretty lucky all told. Fifty students balances out the number of students that graduated from here in March, so we're in decent shape for this year. Hopefully next year we can get a few more than this year's group.

So far, they seem like interesting kids. We'll have to see.

Oh yeah, we also had an official Start of the School Year ceremony that morning for only the second- and third-year students. Gotta love ceremonies.

4/11/2006 - 4/14/2006: The Play

Ahhh, yes. The Play. The Nightmare. The Thing That Has Haunted My Waking Hours And Sleepless Nights For Eight Freaking Months.

Where to begin? I suppose the beginning would be a good idea.

I started at Starfish High in August of 2005. I was pretty clueless about the job, and life in general, for quite a while. Even so, Jack (my partner in English slinging) passed me a script for a play that the first-year students were going to perform and said, "Can you translate this?" I did, although it took me about a week to get it all done.

I asked, Why a play? Because the guy that was here last year did one, and it was a condition of our employment that we do one this year. News to me, but whatever. With my acting prowess (as evidenced by my roles as "Shecky", "Harry McAfee", "scary cult leader", and "invisible boy" in various PHS plays), I knew I could help coach on the acting side. As far as actually putting on a play was concerned, neither Jack nor I had any clue. I still curse He Who Shall Not Be Named. The apartment, the play...grrrrrrrrrrr

As the year progressed, we arranged schedules, rehearsed, had students build props, and somehow performed one scene of the play at the Christmas Assembly in December. Once Winter Quarter rolled around, various school events shot our practice schedule straight to Hades, and by the time March rolled around, some of us were starting to panic.

So the student directors made an executive decision to have practice every weekday of Spring Break. The turnout? Lukewarm at best.

We couldn't get decent rehearsals in because only half the necessary people would show up. Props designers would come in one day, do a little work, and then not bother to show up for the rest of the week. Students were still reading from their scripts five days before the performance. Never mind that we'd already told them fifty thousand times over to memorize their freaking lines.

The week of the performance? I was a wreck. I would dream about the freaking play every night. My eyes would close, but my brain was running on all cylinders. Students were worried that I was developing a neurosis. They probably weren't far off in their analysis. Paperwork kept popping up. I almost went nuclear on a teacher for misfiling some paperwork, but it all turned out to be a mistake on the part of the office.

I know I bitch in here at times about Hiroshi (No. 1), but he really does look out for me and I am so thankful that he talked me down from that insanity that I had reached. Thanks, bud.

But either way, I was still a mess. We were given three full days to get the second-year students ready for their performance. We were also scheduled to have other classes at the same time.

Yep. Otherwise known as double-booking. What a nightmare.

And yet, come Friday the 14th, the students had it together. The play looked like a play. Props were completed. The stage design was great. A lot of students really stepped up and put their all into the performance. Awesome, awesome stuff to see. And it made it all worth it.

Well, almost, anyway. But I could see what the school was trying to do with having the entire grade of students work together on a single project. They really came together at the end and made it their play.

Another fun bit (for me) was that I had a small part in the play as a bartender. People told me that it was the perfect role for me; I was "a natural". Hmmm, not sure what to think of that...

The response from students, teachers, and parents alike was overall quite good. People enjoyed the play. Some of the new first years have already expressed interest in doing a play this year.

Please, God, please, let me go a couple of weeks without having to discuss the freaking play.

4/14/2006: The Party

After the play was finished and things were cleaned up, a bunch of the teachers headed down to the Nakajima area of town for food and beer. The food was good, the beer was better, and the party was a lot more fun than the party of the previous week. Most everyone headed home after the first party, but a few of us headed over to a jazz bar called "B Flat" for a few more drinks. Being in a particularly good mood, I downed three shots of tequila and a whiskey on the rocks. Then I walked on home.

And slept the sleep of someone who has finally found peace.


Blogger Megan said...

3 shots of tequila and a whiskey on the rocks and you managed to walk home?

I am deeply impressed, sir.

Friday, April 21, 2006 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Havok said...

Why thank you!

This came after a few beers as well.

Not only did I walk home, but I woke up functional the next morning!

Saturday, April 22, 2006 11:39:00 AM  

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