Monday, April 16, 2012

My Last Drama

This is taken from a note I wrote in FB just a while ago. I thought I'd just repost it here.

Much as I would like to think that I have more years to go and more dramas to produce, I am being realistic. I know that HOLES was my last one. I will be leaving in a few months. And the likelihood that I will be back in the teaching line is remote.

Producing this drama had been tough. It had been the toughest thing due to many reasons. I almost gave up on the project. I was so close to just shutting down the whole thing. It cost me so much time and energy. It caused me so much anxiety which led to so much heart ache.

Sure, doing a drama is always tiring, physically and emotionally. It takes up a lot of time, it consumes so much energy and a lot of things get neglected as we strive to make it a successful production. I knew that. I knew it would be tougher than last year. I just didn't think it would be THIS tough.

From the start, the whole project was a challenge. First of all, it was not even supposed to be my production. Due to some people's doing, the original person to do it got ... relocated. So this project was either going to be abandoned, or adopted by me. I spoke to the group of students. Everyone agreed to keep going. I told them it was going to take a lot of their time and commitment. They promised they would do their best. Gullible as I usually am, I agreed to adopt the project and make it mine. For me, there is no half way project. It was either all the way or not at all.

So we got going. It was a slow process. Very slow. The script was rewritten at least 5 times. I know i have 5 versions of it. It was hard trying to get them to understand why the scripts had to be changed. I think they felt annoyed that I kept asking them to change this and that and when I could not withstand the pace at which they were doing it, I took over partly and specifically told them WHAT to change and what to cut out and just throw out the window. No one said anything to me, but I sensed the disappointment in a few people. I sensed the unwillingness to do as I asked. I knew why too. I was not their original teacher in charge.

But then I am not who I am by just giving in to my students. Never! Like a stubborn ox, I plodded on. I encountered so many obstacles along the way. Some were caused by those students themselves, some were not.

The date we chose, well, it took us a while to decide on the date. The school has so many activities that it was hard getting a date. And when we did .... we found out later that the staging of PGL was going to be 10 days prior to ours. What that basically meant to us was .... 2 plays in 10 days. Who was going to pay money to watch 2 plays in 10 days? I could foresee that we would not have a crowd. Even if matinee was going to be in the morning and it was a school day.

I was sad but ... there was nothing we could do. Ours was just going to be a small production compared to PGL. No one was going to fight for us, bother about our production. We were on our own.

Then I was told that the production date was no longer a school day. There went the matinee crowd. I was wondering if we would even have an audience.

But the biggest problem I faced was commitment issues among the team members. Not staying back to practise, not staying back to make props, to help. I would probably have felt better if they showed some regret and remorse, but there was none. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. I berated myself for taking on this project which was crumbling before my eyes. I regretted agreeing to do this. I could not face the fact that a project I was in charge of was going to be an utter failure and I was going to leave SA a failure.

Yes it was my pride talking. I felt hurt. My pride was hurt. Every day leading to D-Day, I sighed and worried. I wished I could have a bit more time to get the girls better prepared. At the same time, I felt like throwing in the towel and que sera sera. I was alone. I felt so alone then.

It wasn't that my friends didn't help. They were themselves swamped with work. My friend who has been relocated offered to come back a bit and helped. She saw how I was drowning. There was no way I could do everything on my own. I could not be at different places at the same time.

Last few days, I still encountered problems. Not minor ones, mind you. Seriously, I had never ever done a project with so many problems. It was almost as if it was doomed from the start. It was as if someone was bent on making sure it failed.

Several times I was on the verge of tears and I was just holding it in. If I did break down in tears, I knew, the rest would follow and we would probably have abandoned it. So we kept at it. I screamed at them. I pushed. I bullied. I threatened. I took them on a guilt trip. I became a mad woman on a mission to keep the production afloat even if we were sinking and using tiny pails to bail out the water. A few times, I felt my chest tighten. I knew I was stressed and I was not going to do myself or anyone any favour if I collapsed. So I made sure I took care of my health. Just a few more days. I had to do it.

D-Day arrived. One would have thought the problems should have all been settled and no more spanners would be thrown into the works. How wrong I was! That was when I was so close to tears that I could have just driven off. All my anger and disappointment threatened to erupt there and then. Thankfully someone was there to just be the balm I needed to keep going. It was the last lap. What else could I do?

So we went on. The matinee went on with a few hiccups. But it was better than I had dared to hope. The crowd, as expected, was no crowd. It did not matter. What was important was what we had prepared to do on stage. By the night show, everyone improved and it was a success. A few minor hiccups did occur. But those were easily eclipsed by the fact that the girls did it, in spite of all the problems. In spite of the fact that we had no internal support proper, we showed that we could make it happen.

So the show is now over. No more practices. No more staying back every day to do this and that. No more any of those. My life can go on again. I will miss this. I have but one hope. And that is that the team members have learned what it means to work as a team, to commit themselves to the work they have promised to do, and rise above the problems and obstacles thrown their way. Someone asked me why I even bothered. Afterall, who gets the praises and what not. Well, I have never taken up a project because of the head, or the name of the school. It has always been because of the students. Always. Another person asked me if it was worth it. It is ALWAYS worth it, if it is for the students.

I hope indeed that my students .... will learn to be resilient and to have that never-say-die ATTITUDE. When I leave them, I hope they will not look on my departure as abandoning them, but they will take that as an opportunity to prove to everyone else that they can do it.

To my students who have been wondering why I never wanted to hug them nor let them hug me all those months, it was definitely not because I did not love them. They will one day find out that it was because I do love them, that I have kept them at arm's length.

So there it is. My last drama. I wish it wasn't.

No comments: