March 20 – week two

Saturday Morning March 16

It’s 6am and the birds are singing and squawking with the dawn. This morning we head out to a monastic school near Bago for three days of show creation and 3 shows in the Bago region in schools. Chances are good that we will be beyond the internet….Yesterday I worked with the Dhamma Street West theater group helping them with an improv show that they will perform today in a school outside of Yangon. We had a good time, and I am sure the kids will be laughing quite a lot. The group is just starting to be active here in Burma, and they have wonderful plans to open a theater center and start a theater school-there is none in the whole country. Ok, time to pack.

Wednesday Early Morning, March 20

It’s early morning Rangoon with a show this morning in an HIV/AIDS orphanage and then a workshop in the afternoon for the medical staff of Medicins du Monde. Yesterday was a marathon of 3 shows and many hours of driving with the temperature hovering around 100 degrees….the contrasts of life in Myanmar are stark, new shiny cars flying past ancient diesel trucks belching clouds of black smoke…

Yesterday’s shows were in 3 monastic schools, Pan Pyu Latt, Aung Theidi and Ye Mon. It was great to see the show we have been creating for 3 days come to life, and to hear the children laughing so much. Thila, Somo, Nye, Nwe Nwe, Than and I are all quite excited that the kids are having so much fun. Great to see one of the cooks of Pan Pyu Latt (where we did the creation) laughing so hard, she literally rolled over.

When we drive out of Pan Pyu Latt heading 5 down 5 kilometers of dirt road, and 10 more of narrow uneven blacktop through never ending groves of rubber trees and isolated bamboo thatch houses without any trappings of modernity in sight, it becomes a little clearer why the kids are at the monastic schools. Thila explains that the kids at the second school we play in, Aung Theidi, are children of migrant rubber plantation workers, and many live at the school. That is why the school exists, the kids had no school to go to, so the monks started this school, really in the middle of nowhere.

It is always challenging for me, typing away on a shiny macbook to accept the great disparities of life on the planet. There are kids working everywhere here in Burma, and it just seems to be the way of life. With a western traveler the other day, we were talking this, and the efforts of a local engineer who was starting a school for kids. What comes first, laws to forbid child labor, which for many families is a way of survival, or creating schools to help the kids create better lives for themselves and future generations….Time to get ready for the next show.

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