The following is a guest blog post, sent from the International Theatre & Literacy Project team members, who are currently working with students in the Village during term break.  

Something from Nothing:  ITLP Returns to Agahozo

International Theatre & Literacy Project (ITLP)  is pleased to return to the ASYV for the third year. We are delighted that we have been given an opportunity to expand and to offer two student theatre workshops---serving a total of 42 students--working for two full weeks, all day with each group.

The ITLP team of teaching artists is exceptional -- each ITLP teaching artist has either worked at ASYV before or at another ITLP African site. Each ITLP ASYV workshop begins with theatre games and writing prompts-- creating ensemble, gaining trust and familiarity -- and learning about what is on the students' minds. Our goal is for the students to tell the story they want to tell -- to explore their own understanding of their current world--village, community, country -- what is just, what is unjust, what are their dreams and what are the challenges to meeting to those dreams.  The artists then help the students fashion a play -- a collage piece or a linear drama-- out of this exploration, reflection, writings and improvs. 

On Sunday, August 11 - we will present the two original student plays in the ASYV Amphitheatre to the entire school community and many distinguished guests from Kigali. 

ITLP GROUP ONE -- Channie Waites and and Patrick Crowley are returning for the second year to co-lead the ITLP workshop with the ASYV students --they are delighted to have  8 returning students from last year's ITLP group mixed in with 13 new Senior 4 students.  Starting on Monday, July 29 they have been working 6 hours a day improvising, devising from games, creating tableaux, writing songs, scenes and monologues. On Monday they presented an outline based on the ideas and original stories of the group. The major themes include lying to save face, what people say about us versus what we know about ourselves, and tensions between religions and social classes. The students are adamant about provoking critical thinking with their play and have been involved in deep discussions about aesthetic choices. The play promises to be a thought provoking, entertaining and musical affair! Channie and Patrick have been so impressed with the imagination, the talent, and the togetherness of the group. While the play is dealing with serious themes, every day has also been filled with silliness, laughter, and joy.  Because this is Channie and Patrick’s 3rd time in Rwanda --- it has come to feel like a home away from home. They are extremely grateful for the opportunity to be deepening the work between ITLP and ASYV.

ITLP GROUP TWO-- Jennifer Fawcett and Lee Sunday Evans are co-leading the second group of 21 Senior 3/Enrichment Year students. Jennifer is thrilled to return to ASYV--she and her husband, Sean Lewis, co-led the ITLP ASYV workshop in 2011. Group II is now well into their second week and Jennifer & Lee are amazed to watch the students' growth over the past 10 days: they are speaking more bravely; making new, bold choices; and have generated many imaginative stories that they are passionate about including in their play. In this second week,  the students have moved into intensive rehearsal periods, putting each piece of the play on its feet. Jennifer & Lee are challenging the students to focus on detailed lines of English text, using proper pronunciation and proper English grammar---as well as focusing on how their character contributes to the story as a whole and preparing the students to speak and express themselves in English in front of the entire ASYV community this weekend.

GROUP THREE -- In the middle of week one, a group of 21 Senior 4 students was so enthusiastic about being a part of the ITLP workshops that Marianna Houston, ITLP's Founding Director, started a 3rd group that is working on a shortened schedule to make an energetic prologue to the two 30-minute plays that will be presented on Sunday, August 11 at 4PM in the Amphitheatre.

The ITLP team has been deeply inspired by the students' bravery and commitment to exploring how they can express themselves in a second language, which is no easy feat. We are honored to be a part of the thoughtful, rigorous and supportive community of ASYV's teachers and staff who are helping these students on their life journey.