I'm three weeks into the China tour, so maybe it's time to write about the schools. I've been having a fantastic time at all of them!
First, let me answer two questions I am often asked: what language am I using? Do I have an interpreter? I am telling stories in English. The tours with DreamOn are focused on telling stories to students who are learning English as a second language and ex-pat kids. I do not have an interpreter, though I have a tour manager to help me outside of the shows (and sometimes during them). I perform for everybody from preschool to high school.
Like at home, when I perform for preschoolers and elementary school children, I use my puppets. They are essential when the students understand less English. Everybody understands when Trixie brushes her hair with her toothbrush. Everybody understands when the baby pops her binky out of her mouth. It's more of a challenge when the students are in middle school but have limited English.
I've been at four schools so far: two in Beijing, one in Shanghai and one in Suzhou. The performances have been in the library and in the auditorium.
Given my druthers, I prefer the library. In Shanghai, though, Shanghai United International School had a new auditorium. I was the first performer there, so the kids were hugely excited to be in the hall.
I had some challenges here. The little children were really too small for the seats, and trickier still, the armrests held desks. Alberto made a genius suggestion, which was to ask the kids to take those desks out at the very beginning of each program, then put them away and NEVER TOUCH THEM AGAIN. This worked. Children are naturally curious, so this was a way to satisfy their curiosity without it being a big deal. I also have to show kids my crooked little fingers before I begin, for the same reason. If I don't they get distracted by my hands and forget to listen to the stories.
For the most part, the audiences have been wonderful. They've joined in nicely and at the end have asked good questions. The teachers and librarians have been welcoming. I've felt that many of them would go out for coffee with me if we lived near each other.
I have a week left, with a tough schedule: four days of work in four schools, each in a different city. No complaints, though. I signed up for this adventure and am eating it up with a spoon! The Chinese kind of spoon, as in the next picture.