Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's that time of the year again. The end of the semester. And it wound up being better than I thought: starting off kinda rocky, but, by the end, I'd reduced it to mostly oversized pebbles.

When I think about the end of the semester, I think about Christmas.
When I think about Christmas, I think about Santa.
When I think about Santa, I think about humans.
When I think about humans, I think about my family!
And what better tribute to Santa, my family, and all the humans than by taking the time to answer a question from a concerned family member.

I was recently approached by an anonymous family member regarding my scholastic habits. Her question: "Molly, when do you go to class?" Since I never talk about it.

Well, anonymous family member, the answer is: all the time. As a matter of fact, every day. Well, every day that's not the weekend. (But that seems obvious.)

With regards to blogging, I've run into the inherent problem that storytelling often faces: namely, the tendency to focus on isolated incidents. Since I'm telling you stories about my life here in France, I have to whittle them down to the really meaty ones. (Stories dealing with music, murder, and mayhem often make the cut. Also puppies.) Essentially, classroom stories just aren't particularly interesting to tell.

But since it is the end of the semester, I thought I'd pay homage to a particularly story-tellable class: THEATRE.


Let's start with Day 1, shall we?

Day 1. I got to my classroom a couple minutes early. Seriously, 3 minutes max. Because I was in that constant state of "new-girl confusion," I saw a class in progress and immediately thought it was mine. (I realized pretty quickly that this, in fact, was not my class, but for reasons of confusion, embarrassment, and maybe a little pride, I stuck it out.) So I jumped in, probably an hour and 57 minutes late, and joined the voice class in singing "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, something something t'oublierai." It was super fun.

My actual class started about 10 minutes later. Again, I felt very out of place, but this time for a very different reason. Apparently there was some sort of all-black dress code that everybody knew about except the stupid little foreign girl who looks really obnoxiously colorful right now. And I wasn't just wearing colors. I was wearing COLORS.

I'd like you to think I responded positively to this sudden decrease in the variability of my visual spectrum.

But I did not.

"You look like radioactivity."

In the weeks to follow I donned my blackest black clothing, which by the end of the semester had turned sort of grayish since I wore the same thing pretty much every week.

I should take a moment to introduce my professor. His name was Triffaux.  He was a very "French" little man with graying hair who confused me a lot. One thing he would do, when we would do exercises on stage, is he would raise his hands like a conductor and then move them around "directing" us. No words. Nothing but the slight twist of his left wrist in a counterclockwise motion. Or the lowering of his arms while simultaneously raising his right eyebrow. It was very cryptic.

It didn't take long for the classes themselves to start to run together. So I will separate the following accounts by activity, not day.

1. Monologue Day
Despite what I said earlier, I do remember that this was still the first class. We each had to get in front of the class and recite a monologue so Monsieur Triffaux could gauge where we were acting-wise. I did mine in English. I yelled at them a lot. I'm sure most of them don't speak English. It was probably pretty upsetting.

2. Look Ma, I'm A Statue Day
One day we made statues with our bodies with a partner. Then we put all the individual statues together to make one big statue. Aaaand lucky you. Someone took pictures.

If you look closely at picture #4, you'll see my professor doing a weird hand thing. Weird hand things were sort of his thing.

3. Creepy Horror Movie Mask Day
I would have drawn pictures for you for this day, but, I'll be honest with you, I couldn't bring myself to draw panels and panels of the creepy horror movie mask. The creepy horror movie mask was a blank white stage mask that we had to buy for an in-class exercise.
And it was creepy. And it was horrible.
The object of the exercise was simple. To look really hard at your mask. To become the mask. To put on the mask. To lay on the floor motionless with the mask. To feel the mask in your belly button. To roll around on the floor and be reborn with the mask. To crawl around like a toddler with the mask. To look at stuff "for the first time" like a sand flea with alzheimer's with the mask. To learn to walk with the mask. To realize you're stranded on a desert island with the mask. To see a boat off in the distance with the mask. To try and get the boats attention with the mask. To fail miserably with the mask. To fall into deep depression with the mask. To accept that this is your life now with the mask. To ignore the guy trying to build a raft with the mask. To try to form a civilized society with the mask. To resort to cannibalism with the mask.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't that simple.

4. Pants On The Ground Day
This was by far the most stupidly stereotypically French moment I've experienced in Nice so far. One day, with about 30 minutes left of class, someone decided to turn on some music, and, since I'm convinced there are no such things as lesson plans in France, everyone just started dancing. Which was fine and all. I coped.

I bet you a million dollars, unless I've already told you this story or you looked at the panel below, that you will NEVER guess what happened next.

Yes. About 6 of the girls straight up took their shirts off. And continued dancing. It was so alarming.
I . . . I'm out of words.

5. What About That Project We Never Did Day
This one's pretty self explanatory. There was a project we were assigned the first day of class, and then no one ever talked about it again. We never did it. I don't really know what happened to that project, but no one seemed too concerned.

6. Scene Work Of Death Day
For our final, we were paired up with other students to perform short scenes on the last day of class.
I was paired with the Grand Duke of Miscommunication.

Before I go on, I feel compelled to interject. Going back to that thing I said about storytelling lacking a certain continuity, the same applies here. I feel like I can't really express to you the gravity of the frustration I felt when working with this guy by simply giving you snippets of the past several weeks. They simply won't suffice. You need the frustration. You need to imagine first that you own a cuckoo clock, and you just realized it goes for 61 seconds every minute. And the window that you broke at the beginning of the semester by trying to force it open doesn't close all the way now, so the sun wakes you up every morning at 7. And Fran Drescher is hanging from your ceiling dripping water on your face every 30 seconds with a pipette. (Or is it 31 seconds?) Now, hold onto that frustration. And I guess I'll just list some things that almost literally ate my skin off.

-We couldn't meet any other time besides between 2 and 5 on Saturday to rehearse. He was always busy. (Okay, dude, you're a theatre major. What could you possibly be doing every single day?)
-We always had to rehearse in my coffin of a bedroom. Because his apartment "no no no no won't work."
-He thought it was "cute" that I lived in a residence hall. "It looks like Titanic."
-He didn't speak English. Which is fine. But he didn't speak French very well either. He spoke so fast and so incoherently that I found myself oftentimes ignoring him completely. This did not help the situation.
-He texted the way he spoke: jumbled, incoherent, text-speak that made absolutely zero sense.
-He never had any money on his phone and would ALWAYS ask to use mine to call someone.

By the last day of class I was ready to explode. Our exam was at 3:30, and we were supposed to meet at 1 to do some last minute touch ups. He called me the day before.

Partner: I can't meet before the exam. I'm busy.

Molly: Okay.

Partner: mumble mumble mumble

Molly: Pardon?

Partner: I'll just see you in class.

Molly: At what time?

Partner: 3:30.

8am the next morning:

Partner: Where are you?

Molly: In bed?

Partner: Oh mumble mumble mumble

Molly: Pardon?

Partner: I'm outside my apartment. Can you meet in 10 minutes?

Molly: Uhhhh . . . I have to shower and get ready? 40 minutes.

Partner: Okay.

20 minutes later:

Partner: *Knock knock*

Molly: Are you kidding me?

Partner: mumble mumble mumble

Molly: I'm not ready yet, (numskull)!

Partner: Okay, well I'll just see you in class.

Molly: Okay?

Let me clarify, my French was not the problem. My French partner was the problem.

So I finally got to class, he notified me that he had chosen to go first, and we were on stage in 5, 4, 3, 2, . . .
I was furious.
Then when we finally started the scene, I felt like time stood still. And he was pacing around me for what felt like FOREVER. (This has nothing to do with time, he just paced for like 5 minutes before saying his first line.) I felt like he was all around me all at once.

"Headscarfed" is not my best look.

Then he had 2 other scenes with 2 other girls (for fun I guess . . .). One of them was the exact same dialogue that we'd had. It was literally the exact same scene. EVERYTHING WAS THE SAME.

". . . this looks familiar."

I just chuckled to myself. I was so over it.

Ugh. I'm sorry if my frustration is making me ramble incoherently. I know what it feels like to deal with people who ramble incoherently. It's a terrible thing. It really is.

Longest blog post ever.

Is now just a little bit longer.

Amitiés :)

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