July 11, 2010


I hope I’m well rested for today…

Today is Giraffe’s Regional Story-telling Contest. I hope, as I said, that I am well-rested for today. Even more so, I hope our students are ready for the day.

They have been practicing for a while now. They have done all they can to prepare themselves. Their sets are ready, their props are ready, they are ready. Now, everything is up to them. I have a lot of confidence in these four students: May, Wayne, Jonas, and Nadia. They each have endured the comments, suggestions, and tugs and pulls at costumes, that Janice, myself, and even their parents have thrown at them.

I’m not sure exactly how many students or bushibans will be competing. I don’t even know how many Giraffe bushibans there in Tainan city, let alone this region. From what I understand, the region includes at least Chia-yi and Tainan counties. I believe that Kao-hsiung county is in it’s own region, or included with others to the south. It will be interesting to see this year’s competition though.

I was chatting with Christine, one of our teachers, yesterday. One of our students, Wayne, has a set that his father built. The story he is telling is called, “The Truth About Hansel and Gretel”. It is told by the old lady of the house, apparently a few years later, from her perspective. We all grew up with the story, and if you think about this story as being told by the children, then this is the other side. As we all know, there are two sides to every story, right?

Wayne’s parents built a huge candy house for Wayne. During the bushiban competition a few weeks ago, his father and uncle (I believe) were bringing this set out while other students were speaking. Talk about a distraction. The other students didn’t have a chance, unfortunately. They were not distracted as they were speaking, however, most people’s attention were turned to Wayne’s father bringing this set on stage.

Nonetheless, Wayne won the competition that night. His father has since built a trolley of sorts to bring the candy house on stage. If the students are using props or displays of any kind in their performance, they are responsible for getting it on stage, and set up… no help. Once they are finished, than stagehands and/or the student will get the stuff off the stage, so the next speaker has a ‘clean’ stage to speak from.

Wayne’s father asked me if there is anything else Wayne could do for his performance. Quite frankly, there is nothing more we (Janice nor I) could help Wayne with, to prepare for today. So I told his dad that HE had a job to do. To teach Wayne how to steer his candy house, on top of the trolley, onto the stage! Dad laughs, holds up both hands in the ‘okay’ gesture, and says ‘No problem, no problem!” Hahaha. We’ll see how things go today. I’m sure his parents practiced about a 100 times last night! Sometimes, I wonder if the competition is more for the parents than the students.

Back to Christine. She had told me about a student a few years back, before I started working at Giraffe, who had gone on stage, told the story, and after finishing with the story, about 10 other students got on stage and performed a dance routine. At that time, the ‘rules’ of the competition were not as ‘particular’, or a little more lax, than they are now. Obviously, over the years, the rules have been adjusted to give everyone a fair chance.

One of the rules that the students must follow, is that they have to wear the Giraffe t-shirt during their performance. Now, this may sound simple enough, but from a purely fashion perspective, sometimes this is insane (in my opinion). I’m obviously not the only one that feels that way, since 3 of our 4 students are not necessarily wearing the t-shirt in it’s natural state.

May, is dressed in a yellow, period dress. It is a long, ballroom-style dress. If you’ve ever seen the movies, “Dangerous Liaisons” or “Elizabeth”, then you get the idea of the style of dress. The Giraffe t-shirt this year, is orange with lime-green accents. Now, the original dress that I had liked, would have been fine to incorporate the t-shirt. However, her mother decided on the yellow dress. Like I said before, a lot of this competition is more parents than students!

In order to ‘incorporate’ the t-shirt into the dress, the t-shirt has been cut up, and resown into three strips. These are placed on the bodice of the dress, so as to appear to be a ‘Giraffe dress’. Okay, so we pushed the boundary of using the uniform.

Jonas is dressed as a lion. His t-shirt has been sewn up to resemble a sort of halter top, or for lack of a better word, a bra! Wayne’s t-shirt is sort of hidden, however, one is still able to see the t-shirt under the ‘old woman’s’ apron. Finally Nadia. She is dressed as a green frog. Towards the end of her story, Froggy pulls on a g-string to represent the underwear. The underwear has the logo of Giraffe and the Giraffe name. I can see it now. A whole line of Giraffe-style undergarments – bras and underwear – especially if Jonas and Nadia win!

As my involvement is such that I only help the students with pronunciation, movements, and critiques, I don’t know what the official rules of the competition are. Janice has told them to me, insomuch as I have asked about certain things. As to the use of the uniform, apparently the rules are such that, as long as the logo and name are visible, that is all that is required. Hmmm… Seems like we’re ‘pushing the envelope’ a bit.

My iPhone is all charged up. My recharger is good to go. This recharger will recharge my iPhone at least 3 times, should the iPhone battery itself die out. I love this thing. One of the best accessories I have for my iPhone. I’ll be getting a lot of pictures and videos today. It will take some time to download everything to the computer, but as soon as I can, I will post the results with the pics and vid links here.

I wish all the students, not just our students, but all the students competing, good luck. It will be a very tense day for a lot of these people. If this year is similar to last, then only the First and Second place winners in each category will be invited to compete in Taipei for the nationals in August. As much as I wish ALL the students good luck, I feel that, from an originality point of view, and type of story being told, and use of stage, etc., etc., our students are going to win – hands down.

We’ve done all we can to help them out. The students have learned their stories. They’ve practiced their movements. The only thing left to do for them, is to say, “Jia-oh”, and the rest is up to them.

Well, it’s getting on to 11:00 am. The doors open at 12:00. The competition begins at 13:00. I guess I should get a move on, and get over there.

I wonder who’s more nervous – Janice, me, the parents, or the students?

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