Yesterday, last meeting of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab’s season. We still operate on a school year schedule/theater production company schedule, so it’s summer and school’s out. As a kid, I was always sad when summer arrived because I’d be bored as anything. Now, I’ll miss the company and comradeship as I soldier through these two new plays by myself during the desert of summer.
Also, today, was my last gig at a school for the year. A meeting to debrief with the teachers after a semester long residency. I walked up to the classroom teacher’s door and she had her wallet and keys in hand. She locked eyes with me and said, “I forgot.”
Deep breath. “That’s okay.” Unlocks the door. She seems upset.
Are you alright? She says that she’s just got a billion things to do. Has to prep for next class, buy supplies for a capioera workshop later that afternoon and she has ten things more to do. She’s the team leader. It’s the end of the year. She says, “I’m so stressed out I’m about to start crying. In nine years, I’ve never been so stressed out.”
I feel for her. I ask if there is anything I can do. She tells me about why it’s so hard right now. End of year. Behavioral issues. Too many duties for too few staff. I listen and I think she’s starting to feel better because someone hears.
I’ve been there. Seven years ago, I was a classroom teacher and I was there.
The other teachers filter in and we talk about our program and what worked and what could be better in our partnership next year. And she lights up with ideas and anecdotes about our work together this year.
And I think about how all our hardworking, incredible teachers need more support, more time. They need not to feel alone with the weight of the world on their shoulders and a classroom of students who need so much. Students need a teacher, yes, but often they also need a mother, a father, a counselor, someone to draw a hard line, a coach, an artist, an inspiration, a citizen, a dreamer, a realist. They need all these things. Each teacher has 45 kids that need all these things (and it is a small ratio here, at my last teaching gig, i had 145 students).
How can we help them to stand under all that weight?
How can we hold them up?
How can we thank them for what they carry?
(Have you ever read “the things they carried?”)
They carry us all.
This opens next wednesday. I’ve written a new 10-minute play for them called “Closing Up Shop.” It’s a lovely evening of 7 eleven minute plays that take place in a convenience store. Please come by if you can. Some crackling plays, sharp direction and a fantastic cast.
Desipina & Company
Rehana Mirza, Artistic Director & Rohi Mirza Pandya, Producing Director
Seven.11 Convenience Theatre 2009: The Final Year
Musical Director Samrat Chakrabarti
Opening Night Wednesday, June 17, 2009
At Center Stage, NY
48 W. 21St Street, 4th Floor, NYC
June 17th – June 28th, 2009
The final Seven plays:
Soonderella by Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri
A new pop musical involving a fairy tale of a different colour.
Color Me Desi by Rishi Chowdhary
A liquor-run to the convenience store before the big desi party uncovers that there are more shades of brown than there are colors to Holi.
One Dollar Box by Eugene Oh
A provocative tribute about anybody’s father, anybody’s son and the desperate measures that arise when life boxes you in. Working man, work it man.
A Very Desi Christmas by Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri
An original pop musical that illuminates the true meaning of rice.
Closing Up Shop by Carla Ching
A look at what happens when it’s time to move on to the next generation.
What’s in Store by Rehana Mirza
A run-in at the convenience store leaves its manager with the keys to closing up.
Raj Against the Machine by Vishakan Jeyakumar
A Sri Lankan immigrant questions his life in the convenience store, with his best customer by his side.
Production Stage Manager – Nick Tochelli
Assistant Stage Manager- Shannon O’Connor
Set – Jason Simms
Asst Set/Props – Amy Lee
Costumes – Jenny Fisher
Lights – Jeff McCrum
Sound – len DeNiro
Choreographer – Sandhya Jain
Graphic/website design Nilou Moochhala
Technical supervisor Enayet Rasul
Original 7-11 logo and t-shirt graphic design Atif Toor