written by: Esko Korpelainen, MA student in theatre pedagogy
It was an easy task. I just perform my monologue in PedApproach 2020 and that’s it. The monologue Välitila (In Between) was artistic part of my thesis Kirjeitä sisäisille opettajille – tutkielma tyhjyydessä hutjuvan teatteriopettajan valmistautumisrituaalista (Corresponding with inner teachers – preparation ritual of a theatre pedagogue wobbling in the void). Three months ago, it went well on a black box stage, it is going to go well again.
It was supposed to be an easy task. But then I was in my living room live-streaming my performance on Facebook event and on Instagram, trying to be slow enough so the sign language interpreter can keep up, trying to remember all the lines, trying to remember when I need to put video material running, trying to remember also to act and of course trying to be as relaxed and credible as possible. And then there was also a dog. Our nine weeks old/young puppy, a White Swiss Shepherd called Kaja. She had decided that this would be the first day she is going to be awake two hours nonstop.
Kaja wanted to play. She wanted to bite me. Basically, she just took over the moment.
In my thesis my focus point was in the moment of teaching where I need to let all my planning go and change my way of working. This happened in both of my teaching practices and those moments where sort of big experiences for me, since I thought I had it all planned, and everything will happen just the way I thought would be suitable for my students.
I created an exercise called Kirjeitä sisäisille opettajille (Corresponding with inner teachers), where I could recognize my own ways of teaching and models of teachers I somehow carry on with me. I felt that those letting-go-moments would be easier if I knew what kind of patterns I am executing in my own teaching. And to be honest, the exercise felt great. I did the 45-minute exercise five times and found some deep levels from myself trough those inner teachers. I wrote letters to my elementary school teacher, my grandpa, my old reverend, Yoda the jedi master, Jouko Turkka, Hercule Poirot and basketball coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.
After those letters I felt peaceful. I understood that in those letting-go-moments where I feel insecure and hopeless for a while, I can try to feel peaceful when I know that I am trying to be as good of a teacher as possible when I let all my plans go and try to give students something else. It is just me listening the need of the moment. The key is that it is not a failure. It is a path for developing myself as a teacher and the teaching situation itself.
But now there is a dog. With Kaja I have these moments all day every day. To be honest I feel that this two-year education to be a theatre pedagogue is pretty useless with Kaja the puppy. I just keep failing with her. I lose my temper. She doesn’t understand what I am saying no matter how precisely I am reflecting her behavior for her.
Back to the performance. It was so hard. I didn’t feel succeeding. It was something completely different that it should have been. And there I was again in the moment of letting all my plans go. I couldn’t execute the manuscript. I had a dog biting me! I felt pain, I was bleeding. Then the Instagram live broke down. I lost my words many times. As performer aiming for a good and successful performance I felt unsuccessful.
I wasn’t thinking about my inner teachers or inner performers. I wasn’t thinking “what would he or she or them do?” I was just surviving.
And then I found myself again in the middle of the void.
But I wasn’t hopelessly trying to seek for help.
I felt that this failure, this everything going wrong is actually familiar.
And then I was on the basketball court playing the game. Moments come and go. Everything is fast. I am making mistakes all the time. I commit fouls. My opponent scores on me. I turn the ball over. But it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all, because the game goes on. There is still time on the clock and I just need to keep playing.
So now I am thinking that maybe there is something there on the basketball court that I am actually using when I am teaching. That is something I would like to research now more.
How can basketball help me as theatre pedagogue?
How can basketball help in those letting-it-all-go-moments?
What kind of patterns has basketball given me as a theatre pedagogue?
Pedapproach on teatteri- ja tanssinopettajan maisteriopiskelijoiden 4.-8.5. järjestämä seminaari, joka kokoaa opiskelijoiden ajattelua ja opinnoissa tutkittuja taiteellis-pedagogisia kysymyksiä ja aiheita. Tutustu seminaariin ja sen teemoihin opiskelijoiden päivittämässä blogissa.
Pedapproach is a seminar organised by theatre and dance pedagogy students in 4-8 May that gathers the artistic-pedagogical questions and topics that students have explored during their studies. Learn more about the seminar in the students’ blog. Updates are in Finnish or English.