Hard work today with the Energy Workshop thing. It keeps me honest, but you get a school like that and you realise why it’s pretty well paid. I was in the dining room with a load of tables thrown in and I felt very alone up there with no relationship between me and the pupils and the only teacher using it as an opportunity to do some marking. It’s not that they weren’t engaged. Complete silence would have perhaps been worse. But they just had tons and tons of pent up energy and silence was not a thing that could be achieved when I was putting across information. There’s a long section where I ask them to talk about what they think about things like Artificial Intelligence, but every time the energy dropped for a second as I waited for somebody to formulate an answer then the room exploded into talking – often on topic, but usually loud enough to obscure whatever the person was trying to say to me. It made the whole thing into a long hard slog.
“How were they,” asked a teacher at lunch time. “It was barely directed carnage,” I told him honestly. “They’re a noisy lot. I’d normally have them for PE in that lesson.” It all suddenly made sense. “Hey kids, we are skipping sport in favour of Al coming and talking about engineering! Yay!”
I like this work so long as it’s just filling a gap in the diary, but I think I should talk to the company that books me about the workshop I did today. Having a noisy and distracted group highlights the weaknesses of the material I’ve been given. It’s weighted heavily on intellectualism and even though there are some videos to play they are all a bit woeful. They get the school to print out tons of handouts – too many handouts – all in colour, most of which will only be used for a few seconds, many of which won’t usually get handed out at all on a normal day. I snuck a load home in my bag today so the teacher wouldn’t see how much waste there was.
Now I’m in an uber across town. AFTLS – the company I toured the states with – are back in London after a tour of Much Ado. That was my first tour with them, many years ago. I had a brilliant time and actually my first experience of running workshops was in Indiana doing Shakespeare with the students at Notre Dame. Very different there, and with all the college football there’s no way they’d be skipping PE.
I know some of the company this time around. I’m off to see them and it – performing tonight at The Cockpit up in North London. It’s not the easiest venue to get industry folk to, but it’s a pleasant place and I’ve had fun there in the past and done work I’ll stand by. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m trying to remember the rehearsal process we had for it, in Brixton all those years ago. I’m thinking of the things we had to solve as a company of 5 playing all the parts. It mostly exists in my memory now as a series of colourful flashes. Utah. Wellesley. Weeks in Texas. Spinning up to Rhode Island to see a friend. NYC and the last time I ever saw Louie. Maybe 8 years ago now? Man life moves fast…