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Greetings from sunny, rainy, and humid, Yaounde Cameroon! This year rainy season also brings “drama” season! RFIS, like many North American high schools, puts on a drama production each year. For most of our history that has been accomplished with very little technical input. However, that has been changing in the past few years. This year we decided to tackle Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Quite honestly, I generally can’t stand Shakespeare, but at least this show has a ton of potential from a technical perspective. And we have gone ALL OUT!
Last semester, as soon as we (Mr. Chilton who directs the shows and Me, who is in charge of all the technical components) decided on the show and agreed on a general concept for it, I invited students who were interested in helping design costumes, scenery, etc to get together and brainstorm ideas. We met once a week for the last couple months of the semester and, using suggestions from them, I ironed out scenic and costume designs over Christmas break. And the student design team was just the beginning! This show has many “firsts” for RFIS: almost all the costumes have been designed and are being constructed from scratch, the stage has been chopped up and pieced back together to include three levels, the set has been designed beyond wall coverings and flats, AND I finally managed to figure out a stage curtain for our performance space! (If I ever GET to lights, I have several moving light fixtures to play with too!)
We have been absorbed in bringing those designs to life this whole semester! Because our student body is so small and so many of our students participate in sports, there is no after-school time available for us. Therefore, the drama cast and crew are enrolled in “Drama” as an elective this semester which gives us 3 hours per week in-class. As you might imagine, 3 hours per week (often with only part of my crew because most of them are also stepping in to fill small roles onstage and therefore get pulled out for rehearsal) isn’t nearly enough time to complete everything for a show of this magnitude, so I have spent a considerable amount of time over break, holidays, and weekends pulling various aspects of the show together. Did I jump in a bit too deep? Most Definitely! But it has been a ton of fun too!
As I write this we are less than a month from opening night and, after spending almost all of what was supposed to be a 4-day weekend working on the show, I am finally to the point where I feel like we MIGHT make it! As you can tell, Drama has pretty much taken over my life lately, but the rest of life doesn’t stop for that . . . A few weeks ago, I escaped for most of a week to join the other NAB missionaries at the beach for our annual retreat. That was a
great time of visiting, growing, and re-focusing on God. We have an amazing team of NAB people here in Cameroon, and I always enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with that family. Because of some creative transportation arrangements that were being made for a couple of our other missionaries, I also had the unique opportunity of traveling to and from the retreat via SIL’s Aviation department! In general, the only reason I would expect to get a ride
in either the plane or the helicopter would be for some sort of medical evacuation flight. Obviously this was much more enjoyable, and I could relax and take in the view and the experience. We traveled there via 4 passenger plane and back via helicopter and then plane – WAY COOL!!! And I didn’t even get motion sick . . . well. . . for the most part . . . the trip home left me a bit green… but thankful for the opportunity nonetheless. We even managed to swing over RFIS on the way home, and I got an awesome view of the campus from above!
On a more forward-looking note, I will be back in the US for a whirlwind trip this summer. I will be pretty busy attending some professional development in Minnesota and Texas and then Triennial up in Edmonton. I will be spending a lot of hours behind the wheel, but I am looking forward to swinging through Junction City and catching a bit of family time in Nebraska and Minnesota between trips.
Blessings! Kristi TenClay