Dear Mrs. Rasnick,
Do you remember my peculiar Drama I class? You said it was peculiar because for the most part our class was not in Drama because we wanted to learn about the origins of theater, Thespes and the like. We were in Drama because we wanted to play games. I am writing today to tell you that although I have not used algebra here in Guatemala, nor history, nor even very much English, I have used the games you taught me, and used then well.
The fellows recently took a trip to Belize. We stayed in a guest house in a Mayan Indian village called San Antonio. There was no electricity, and after dark there was not much to do out there in the jungle (Really, the jungle. We saw a huge scorpion–a SCORPION– in the bathroom one night.) But the families who took care of the guest house had lots of children and were just generally the kindest and friendliest people I think I’ve ever met. And–something I did not know about Belize– they spoke ENGLISH. It was like Christmas.
Darkness fell as we waited for dinner time, and we all gathered in the guest house with two candles lit. We were just chatting, and as there were no chairs we formed a loose, standing circle. Somehow we got onto the subject of games– and Whoosh-Bong came to mind.
For those of you who didn’t take Ms. Rasnick’s Drama I class, Whoosh-Bong is a game where you pass energy around the circle using different words, motions and actions. Whoosh and Bong are names for two of the ways you can move or alter the path of the energy.
I began to animatedly explain the rules and actions of the game– to appreciative snickers from my younger audience– and then, with the ease and openness of old friends, we began to play. We passed the energy from person to person with great expression in sound and motion. We progressively added more and more motions and rules– then we decided to play it in slow motion (which was always my favorite version in drama class).
After what seemed like only a very short time, we were all called to dinner. And so we trudged out of the guesthouse, leaving behind the laughter and the energy that we had all shared to continue bouncing off the walls and the thatched roof in the flickering of the candlelight. I walked down the path to dinner listening to the tall grass swaying and thinking how much better playing that silly game was than watching TV or even listening to the radio.
Ms. Rasnick, I can honestly tell you that I know understand the origins of theater. Maybe ancient hunters did just want to re-enact their valiant fight with their prey, but I think the people at home just wanted to share in a common experience that would make the dark night a little less empty.
PS- “Whoosh”, “Bong”, “Ramp”, “Tron”, etc. are funny words in their own right– but you should hear them in a Belicean accent. It was such a good night.