Tanzania 2010

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Our exceptionally talented team of ITLP theatre artists arrived in Tanzania on June 22nd and began inspiring the students at Nkoanrua Secondary School to write their original play. This year’s theme was “the hero’s journey,” giving the students a chance to explore their own dreams and hopes for the future.

This year’s scripted play at St. Margaret’s Academy was Our Village, an original script written by the students and inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, setting the action and life of the play in Kissongo, the town near Arusha where the school is located.

A Message from the Field

One of the teaching artists, Sarah Bever, sent the following email from Tanzania:

Kanga Sets and Plays in Cornfields 

Mambo vipi from Tanzania!

Hope this email finds you all well, and that you are surviving the heat wave in the US! Here in nothern Tanzania the weather is delightful, if not a bit cold at night. It’s winter here. Which translates into 55 - 65 F degrees. I’m in my last week here and things have been very busy.

On the school front we completed our final performance of our student written play, The Journey to Senyati’s Dream. The students did three shows, one for family and friends, the second was the large play festival at Patandi teachers college soccer/corn field, and the third was this morning in front of their 1,000 peers at school!

The play was beautiful. It was inspired by maps that the students drew with the steps to their dreams and the obstacles along the way. The story is of a young woman, Senyati, who is struggling to finish form VI and make her way to university, a job, and eventually a comfortable life and family. Accompanying her on her journey are her spirit guides of her grandmother (bebe) and cousin protector. Also, she has the unwelcome guests of Mr. Money who is nagging at every corner and The Lion who is constantly calling her home to her village. The obstacles she faces includes a physics teacher who teaches history, not having enough money to pay for university or for her needs while she is there, the reality of the bleak job market where she begins cleaning toilets even though she is graduated and the pull of her mother to return home versus a promotion that would cause her to move further away.

We got very positive feedback on the show, that it really expressed the complexity of the struggles youth are facing today. And that it really demonstrated how much the students had grown in the past year in their English, theater and storytelling! Coming from the critical assistant head master this was quite a compliment! I had the joy of teaching this group for two years and it has been extraordinary to walk with them through their ITLP experience.

Also, I have been able to travel to Zanzibar and Jambioni for a weekend, which was amazing and beautiful. I never thought I would see such beautiful water. Downside was I got food poisoning. But, I survived! I also got to go to Moshe, and visit my friends from NYC Maria and Matt who are working at Mwenge University, talk about a small world...

Now we are on to the professional development portion of the trip. Yesterday we did a workshop for over 200 pre service teachers about theater as a strategy of participatory education and tomorrow we begin our residency at Nkoanrua. I’ll be returning to NYC on June 20th and arriving on June 21st!

Thanks for all your support!!

Sarah