Friday, December 12, 2008

Working Video!

I just discovered that the video Jeremiah took at Wenzhou Wonderland is working now! It's at the end of the Wenzhou Wonderland blog post.

The Thanksgiving Presentation

After much hand wringing and hair pulling and last-minute changes, the Thanksgiving Presentation took place on Friday, the Day After Thanksgiving.

Three weeks before Thanksgiving, it was determined that the School would put on a Thanksgiving Presentation for marketing purposes, that it would consist (approximately) of a series of song-and-dance routines featuring the students, and that the English Teachers would plan, prepare for, and present it. After a few preliminary planning sessions during that first week, we decided that the Presentation would consist of a few festive songs and a Thanksgiving Play. We didn't know how many students would participate, how many people would attend, or really any of the logistical details.

In the last half of the first week, we put a play together, re-writing a thanksgiving school play we found online, and chose several songs of varying difficulties ("10 Little Indians," "Skip to my Lou," "Over the River and Through the Woods," and "Shenandoah"), and started asking our students who would be willing and able to participate in either the play or the singing.

We held our first rehearsal two weeks before the play, and got an estimate of how many students we would be able to work with. It didn't look good. The number of students that were able to participate was about 30% less than the number we needed. Fortunately, we still had a week left before casting was closed, so we took advantage of it.

During the second week before the Presentation, we honed the script, asked more students to participate, and practiced the singing with each of the classes. We scheduled two more rehearsals for the Play, to take place Saturday and Sunday afternoon before the (Friday) Presentation. Then things started to get hectic.

About this time, I became the de-facto casting manager. My assignment was to oversee and coordinate the rehearsals. assign roles to each participating student, to make sure each role was cast, and figure out a way for each actor to rehearse their role at least twice before the Presentation. This would have been simpler if we had had enough preparation time to hold a few full rehearsals, but as things were, that just wasn't possible.

We found out a week before the Presentation that teachers were also supposed to have a spot during the Presentation, that it would be a specific song (popularized during the SARS epidemic), that it would have hand motions, and that it would be in Chinese and (poorly translated) English. The reason for this, they told us, was because the Parents would expect it. This lead to a rather stressful afternoon and the we ended up singing "Shenandoah" instead of the SARS song.

Friday afternoon we found out that our plan for the rehearsals had been changed by the Marketing Department, and now was supposed to include rehearsing the songs as well as the play. Saturday afternoon, as the students were arriving for rehearsal, we found out that the students were told to only come to one of the rehearsals- if they were going to sing, on Saturday; if they were going to be in the play, on Sunday.

We ended up rehearsing everything on both days, and planning two more rehearsals for the final 5 days- one on Wednesday afternoon, one on Friday afternoon. Some of the students came on Wednesday, some of them came on Friday, and most of them showed up Friday night for the Presentation.

We had, I think, 5 partial rehearsals for the Play, with the final one being held in a hallway outside the auditorium as the students were preparing to go on-stage. The songs all worked out well, and aparently everyone was very happy with the result.

We learned a lot about what not to do the next time- which, as it turns out, is a Christmas Presentation. In two weeks.

This one'll be a bit smaller in scope- the School's not renting an auditorium for it, there won't be a full buffet, there won't be a TV crew, and the tickets will be much lower cost, and the Marketing department is responsible for planning it!

We're cautiously optimistic.

View from our New Apartment

Shannon and I went out on a date this morning. On our way out, I took this picture from the walk outside our front door.

It was chilly and foggy- perfect weather for Coffee and Pastry!

Friday, December 05, 2008


In the days leading up the Thanksgiving Play, we noticed that every student participating in the play had an aversion to being cast as "Squanto." We wrote this off as being induced by role assignment, in the same way that none of the students wanted to be cast as "Pilgrim Mother," until one of the Chinese Teachers knocked over a bit of the language barrier. Apparently, "Squanto" sounds like the chinese "si kuan tou," which means "Dead Bald Person."