Thursday, March 8, 2012

Con título

My play has a possible title and a fleshed out* outline! As it stands right now, it’s going to be called Aqui, Luchando. So far there are twelve or thirteen characters who I’m thinking are going to be played by four or five actors, maybe six. It’s been a challenge putting the monologues in a sequence that makes conceptual sense and whose juxtaposition tells an interesting story, but I think I’ve been doing well on that front. Luchando feels like it’s shaping up to have an engaging story arc, which is a nice place to be, as I am around halfway into my time in Havana. What I think will be even more of a challenge is keeping the thing interesting visually. You know, working on transitions and motion and such, not to mention the accompanying projections that I’m going to be editing over the summer. I still have hours and hours of transcribing to get through before I present a draft of my script on April 21st. I’m also hoping to get a few more good interviews in to include in Luchando before the end of the month. So far, I’ve interviewed performance artists, informal tour guides, illegal cigar sellers, a jinetero, an ex-jinetero turned mentor, and an important ex-ministry of tourism employee. I’m hoping to talk to at least a few more informal vendors, jineteras, and for sure a few more women before I leave.

On Tuesday I spent the day with Magda while she taught her screen directing classes at ISA, the Institute for Advanced Arts. I’m really very impressed by the way they go about teaching cinema here. First years produce a one-minute short film, second years produce a three-minute short film, and so on, and they all work on these projects the whole year. At Hampshire, we usually start a semester off with a one-minute short and end it with a ten-minute short. The only thing that gets critiqued usually is the finished product. These kids on the other hand spend the whole year working on their piece from all angles and getting constant feedback from their peers and professors. They use their directing class to talk about how they’re going to get their actors to make it work, they use their production class to talk about the technical details of the shoot and so on. The students were all very engaged and creative, too. I sat in at the point of the year where they’re finalizing their scripts and workshopping them as a class. There are some really powerful and fascinating work being produced; thematically, lots of things about childhood, social issues, Cuban and international politics, relationships, and gender relations. I’m kind of jealous, actually. It’s a little hard working on my senior project without having a group of peers to constantly get feedback from and talk to. Everyone here in the program is working on completely different things, so I guess I have to wait till next semester when I’m back at school to get that kind of academic and creative community back.

*Isn’t that such a grotesquely evocative way of saying that something has substance? Where did that expression come from?

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