Well, then. I can see even now that this short stint that's started tonight in a studio across the way from the Kenyan National Theatre is going to be entirely too short. And why, Universe, did it take so long to happen?
I arrived about an hour early, just to be sure since it was my first time there trying to find the place without Google Maps. For the most part, I knew where I was going enough to know that I should have taken an earlier exit so that I could've saved myself sitting in traffic for about half an hour. See, I've been in this country for 9 months and a day, and so I've gotten to know Nairobi enough to know when I should take an earlier exit. And in that time, I've come to understand a few other things as well:
1) It's really hard to get a job with a work permit and residence visa in a developing foreign country after the first one essentially saying, "Yeah, you shouldn't have been hired in the first place,"
2) I never thought I'd drive on the left side of the road, and so nonchalantly at that, with these crazy f**king buses and vans (a.k.a. "matatus") that drive off-road at the drop of a hat, only to veer back on (to cut you off),
3) somehow without a full-time job it's still a challenge to get my online Masters of Education completed without my hair not turning gray or falling out, but I have maintained a 4.0 since September 2015 and have attained my IB Teaching and Learning Certification,
4) it's possible to both feed a giraffe and french kiss one in the same action,
5) lots of guys screw goats while other guys eat them (and they're might be a weird Venn Diagram in there with a strange overlap),
6) if people don't return one's calls, it's not personal, it's cultural (but it feels personal),
7) it's good to be persistent after being told" No, no, no" because it can land one a short-term, low-paying job at the Kenyan National Theatre leading acting workshops utilizing that really expensive MFA training one received (and still hasn't fully paid for).
This isn't my first time as a workshop leader/acting teacher. I've done similar work in China and Russia, but this time there's a real sense of a framework and a structure about it, but it's one that I'm creating as opposed to following from those who have been my teachers. Asking the students to walk around the room looking for minute details wherever they can find them, having their moment, and then directing them to find something else in the next instant is an exercise I learned. That I'm combining this with a sense of urgency that is culturally relevant is something new. Having complete strangers carry one another's weight through a simple exercise that asks them to "let go and trust" each other is not new. That I ask them to shake each other's shoulders as a prelude to the exercise is. It's little additions or, dare I say, innovations like that that stick out in my mind as I work towards defining my own sense of theatre and what a well-trained actor can accomplish.
I was supposed to teach the British National Curriculum as the Head of Drama at Hillcrest International School, covering the IGCSE and A-level courses. This was supposed to be a major stepping stone in my professional experience and career, aligning very well with the other international work I've done so far, the latest of which has been an idea my wife conceived and organized and that we've been co-writing (check it out on 40daysofnight.strikingly.com). We're waiting to hear if we'll be going to Spain this summer to perform a completely new idea at the International Theatre Institute's 35th World Congress.
Now, however, I find myself in this room of new students who want some craft, guidance and training in a space owned by the Kenya National Theatre. I'm happy to be here, but what a bumpy ride it's been en route.
As for this blog post's title, our rabbit (one of two) named Cow (the other is The Bear) gave birth to four babies. Had Masha (the first other one of two) not had its neck brown by one of our neighbor's dog, we would never have gotten Cow and her surprise offspring. Had we not come to Kenya in pursuit of one stepping stone and gone through this complete and utter ridiculous bout of one piece of bad luck after another (starting the end of August), I wouldn't have found another step forward, and that mommy rabbit would not be breastfeeding her young in my fireplace.
Remind me to tell you the one about my 16-year-old car being officially unsellable because the guy who sold it to me and subsequently moved to the UAE failed to take care of a few things before passing the car on.
Follow that with the one about the young Army soldier/history teacher who rode between my kids' car seats hoping to extort money from me because I made a wrong turn, or the one about nearly being nearly arrested for not surrendering my license.
Follow that with the one where we visited a nearby hospital because Svetlana had a passing kidney stone and the hospital neglected to tell us about another infection and watching Svetlana, post-treatment, get the big boss of the hospital, a man who perceived us to be beneath him and who had the balls to put up his hand to try to silence a Russian woman, to apologize.
Follow that with the one about barehanded octopus hunting in the Indian Ocean or Santa giving my daughter a ride on his donkey along a white sand beach.
Follow that with the one where I witnessed passionate slug sex on the outskirts of my French doors.
Follow that with monkeys invading our holiday self-catering flat near the beach,the owners telling us they had never seen such a mess, that it would take the cleaning lady hours to sort everything out, and us turning around and saying that actually the monkeys had hardly created any mess because, outside of the pee on the floor, we had done it.
Follow that with the one about stealing pineapples from Del Monte or the one where I told a roomful of copywriters that their detergent ads were outdated and sexist.
Follow that with my daughter singing songs in Chinese, Swahili, Russian and English.
Follow that with the one about going to South Africa for three days to get my teaching license and getting drunk on wine both nights before my exams with one of the country's most lauded architects and his boyfriend.
Follow that with our visa run to Ethiopia where both of our kids got sick, we visited an active Orthodox, underground church built into rock guided by a kind, celibate deacon, to visit a random house along the road made out of dung and occupied by mostly children, and I came face-to-face with Lucy, our 3.2 million-year-old ancestor.
Follow that with my first cheesecake I ever made for my wife's birthday that tasted like the most-hated cake in her life.
Follow that with Svetlana and I dressing up like clowns for Crystal's birthday the night after we stayed up until 2 AM making what we thought was the worst birthday carrot cake in history.
Follow that with riding along the bumpiest, craziest road known to man, with Svetlana trying desperately to keep her nipple in our son's mouth, with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law to see wild game live and in the (half-eaten, faceless) flesh.
Follow that with riding on a motorcycle with our daughter through coffee and macadamia nut plantation fields.
Follow that with being called a racist by a drunk lawyer after hanging out with one of the country's biggest TV stars.
Follow that with two failed local theatre projects but another successful J. Lasky Production in New York City that led to publication.
Follow that with starting 2016 in the Arctic Circle in Russia and ending it about two hours from the equator, and it's actually a few Russians living in Kenya who have helped us get through this wild, unpredictable time.
Disquiet Interrupted has some new life in it.
See you soon.
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