I wasn't sure what would happen with our TESOL Drama workshop after the pandemic hit. Broadway theatres in New York City shut down, everyone was afraid to go the movies, while edutourism was put on hold indefinitely. José and I were in the process of applying for a business visa in Italy to do more workshops. But, apparently, the universe had other plans.
Instead of moving east of New York City, we decided to move west, back to my home city of Los Angeles to be closer to family. Our university teaching jobs stopped meeting live and moved online to Zoom. Like most teachers in the world, we had to quickly learn how to teach on Zoom. Like everyone, we had to learn what social distancing was about with all its complications and challenges to mental health that came as a result.
These last three years was a time to regroup and recalibrate. I knew that the TESOL Drama Workshop would never be the same, and it felt inauthentic to keep doing "business as usual" by modifiying the TESOL Drama Workshop to be online.
When we finally settled in Los Angeles, José and I both secured local teaching jobs at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy here in Hollywood, California. I learned how to better empathize and engage with students online, as I incorporated mindfulness exercises to help us all cope with the collective trauma we continue to face in this new reality. José has expanded his work in teaching film directors how to work with actors, using his expertise in dramatic practices for mutual understanding and creative collaboration.
After a lot of healing work, I am ready again to give back to others, and share some of the restorative lessons I have learned over these last difficult years. I realize that the work José and I developed separately and together in New York and overseas is more timely than ever. For two years, we practiced our work for a drama for mutual understanding in the birthplace of the Renaissance- Florence, Italy through the TESOL Drama Workshop.
Now it is time to return back to the theatre in a new and revised TESOL Drama International workshop: The Restorative Classroom: Bringing the Joy of Drama to English, Language Learning, and Any Subject. It will take place in Paris, the original location of the TESOL Drama International workshop, in the legendary landmark Théâtre de l'Atelier located in the 18th Disctrict of Montmartre (a section of Paris once home to the famous artist salon of Gertude Stein, Picasso, Modigliani, Miro, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Géricault, Renoir, Van Gogh and more).
In the spirit of Peter Brook's innovative International Centre for Theatre Research (Centre Internationalde Recherche Théâtrale which was based out of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris), we look forward to bringing artists and educators back together again to re-enliven our practices and revive our souls as we participate together in our new and lucid TESOL Drama Workshop. I cannot wait to do the "Circle Dance" again with you!
More details about the workshop activites to come soon!