Two weeks ago, I gave my ninensei (second-year, or gr. 11) students an assignment to write and prepare skits, to be performed in our next class, which was also our last class.
Despite it being MY idea to do skits, I was simultaneously absolutely dreading what the students might come up with. The few times I have attempted to give ninensei anything even resembling homework, the result has been pretty shoddy. However, a few of the teachers had expressed enthusiasm about doing skits, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.
Skit presentations got underway today, and I'm pleased to report that they were pretty good! Of course, having prepped myself for extreme disaster, there was no way but up, so to speak. There was just about the exact amount of giggling and horrid, awkward dead air that I expected, but most groups had obviously put at least an ounce-and-a-half of effort into their skits. Almost no one memorized all their lines, like I'd asked them to, but they did a good job of reading their lines with, for once, some emotion and a modicum of acting, unlike their usual robot selves.
Thank You From the Crane - Japanese fairy tale about a young girl who comes to live with a childless man and woman, and weaves them beautiful silk clothes. She turns out to actually be a crane that the man had saved from a trap a while before. The English was a bit too perfect, leading me to wonder if someone's English tutor helped out with it (though one of the girls in the group does have quite good, startingly accent-free English), but I don't care..
Peach Boy - Another fairy tale, about a boy who is born from a peach to a childless man and woman (a recurring theme). He eventually goes off to save his village from ogres that are threatening the area, bringing along with him his companion warriors of a dog, a pheasant, and a monkey. Best Fight Move of the Day: Peach Boy pointed dramatically every time she said "I am fighting the demon ... fight ... fight."
Cinderella & The Witch - Quirky spin on the well-known tale, complete with girly voices by the 6 male actors (spawning many giggle-fits, of course). A highlight was the offering of the brown glass slipper (their own indoor school slippers), as well as the request for a dress for the dance (but alas, no costumes).
LIFE - Quite surreal, maybe in part because they didn't seem to have practiced very much. A made-up story about a boy who kept running into people (who may or may not also have been him; I couldn't tell) in a strange forest. At the end, everyone goes for sushi dinner.
We Are Looking For Something - 4 girls each looking for a treasure (grandmother, rabbit, etc.) and one girl from outer space (or somewhere) who admits to having stolen them, but in return, she gives them lasting friendship. I think for everything else, there is MasterCard. Wins the prize for Best Acting: during a mock-fight, one of the girls actually crashed into a desk (by accident) when she pretended to be thrown! Very dramatic - the audience gasped in horror!
Three Wishes - My ESS leader's group, and they didn't seem very well-prepared, or perhaps inordinately shy (with the exception of Natsuki herself, who is a character and then some). A traditional tale: A man and woman find a genie who agrees to grant them 3 wishes. The man wishes he had some good sausages, and after his wife taunts him with his stupid choice, he wishes her nose were a sausage. You can guess what the third wish is.
ISHIKAWA the movie - Hilarious and pretty well done, if a little chaotic. Lots of giggling in this one (boys are worse gigglers than girls in this country). Ishikawa-kun, one of the students in the group, is a "Champion of Justice" (his words). He saves a woman from two attackers with guns...but then she later turns out to be a man. They shrug it off and, figuring justice was still done, go for sushi dinner together.
Pumpkin Girl - Same story as Peach Boy above, but with crossovers into Cinderella. It was well-written, but they didn't quite get the concept of "skit", telling the story ("then he said X") rather than acting it out, though they seemed to realize their mistake and made a few feeble attemps at actions.
Finally, the "Award for Best Line of the Day" goes to ISHIKAWA :
"Oh, no! You've shot me! You've shot me! You've ... [tastes his fingers] Mmmmm, tomato sauce. How tasty!" :)