I now have my Fulbright posting for the winter/spring semester of 2023. I'll be at Ala-Too International University in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. And this week is the virtual orientation for the Central Asian Fulbright cohort for 2022-23. It's a diverse group of U.S. scholars, researchers and soon-to-be English Teaching Assistants who will be posted throughout the region. Though most of the others will begin in the fall, I'll begin in January. However, I've already had an introductory Zoom at AIU with the Vice Rector, Dean, Department Head, Department Chair, Director of International Relations, the International Project and Program Coordinators and representatives from the U.S. Embassy. Quite an honor. I came away from that meeting feeling ready to pack and leave tomorrow. Still, there's a lot to figure out between now and January (not to mention other projects). For one thing, my progress with learning Russian needs to accelerate. Not that I'll be teaching in Russian, but day to day life in Central Asian cities is mostly in Russian. So I have to get moving on that. I also want to learn some Kyrgyz, but that will likely wait until I'm in Bishkek since it isn't available in most language programs.
My highlight from last month was a wonderful weekend workshop with Geo Britto from the Centre de Teatro do Oprimido (Theatre of the Oppressed) in Brazil.
Theatre of the Oppressed is an interface between theatre and social action. I've been drawn to that work for years and it's been an influence in various exercises I've used as a teacher. But now I'm finally pursuing some opportunities to get closer to the source. This is partly because I'm hoping to draw on some of this work while in Kyrgyzstan. It was a great workshop, enriching to me as an artist and as a person. I look forward to more such learning, later in the summer.
In July, I'll head to Milwaukee to direct McGuire, a one-man show about Al McGuire, written by former NBC broadcaster, Dick Enberg, with Tony Crivello playing Al. Tony's a powerhouse actor - a Tony Award winner - and it's going to be a lot of fun. There's a lot of tech to figure out (slides, music, sound) but we have a good team and ideas and I enjoy the process. Rech Entertainment is producing the show and mounting it at Next Act, my artistic home in Milwaukee, so that's an added treat. I love that space and am comfortable there.
I'm also just finishing a booklet I've written on an Alumni Grant from the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission. It's called Throw the Cat Out the Window! Teach English Creatively as a Second Language. It will be an ongoing resource the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants in Bulgaria. The graphic designer is working on layout now, but pretty soon we'll be sending it off to Sofia, so the incoming ETAs will have it for the coming year. I plan to update/adapt the text for Kyrgyzstan during the fall and bring it with me to use in workshops and classes while there. This is the flowering of a seed that was planted in Sofia back in 2019 and it's fulfilling to see it blossom.
That's the news for June.