Well they did it. Damn if they didn’t! I admit, I had my doubts. But when their moment came, they were right there, shimmering, resplendent, hilarious, absurd, and utterly, naively, gracefully, gleefully, lovingly, Real. Seventeen Danish kids rose to the occasion to perform their own perfectly imperfect version of Alice in Wonderland, and it was simply brilliant.
A good friend of mine in the States likes the metaphor of seeding, growing, tending and harvesting to describe how life cycles work. Borrowing from her, I can say that this season took basically everything I had to plant, tend, and weed, along with doing what I could to wheedle, cajole, beg, bribe, and get down on my knees and pray for it to work. My degree of frustration, not especially with the kids themselves but with the supposed adults around them, was at times extreme. But. As usual with projects involving a group of people, there were a couple of humans without whom it would not have been possible to create the mini-masterpiece of fun and frolic that we accomplished this week.
There are times in life when all the messiness, chaos, disappointment, and daily sweat of working in the world somehow, magically, gives way, blends together, simmers long and slowly enough, to produce the most beautiful rainbow parade. The two evenings of ‘Alice I Eventyrland’ was one such great moment. All seventeen of them, from the shyest and least actor-like, to the loudest, brashest, and silliest, found that in themselves which produces greatness. Both of the performances were a great success, with the audience of parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and others, giving them extra rounds of applause, (and, with a little help from yours truly) some very fine cat cawls, yowls, loud whistles and the like. The kids drank it all in, basking in the lights, the sounds, the utter appreciation, finally, for what they had accomplished. And not a moment too soon.
As for me, the teacher with whom I had undertaken this enormous project, (and who, very often, left me alone to deal with it all) also found the place of gratitude and grace within himself and did indeed thank me publicly at both the beginning and end of the performance. Flowers had been purchased and were given to each actor and to him, and finally to me. I grinned through it all, simply happy to be witness to the children’s growth and flowering brilliance in carrying off this adventure. I had held the flame of faith for them throughout the past two and a half months, and they all came through, even more magnificently than had I dared to hope.
Now that the play is over, so is my temporary position as the co-teacher of these two classes. After this spring, everything will change for these kids, as many of them will leave Freja Skolen and begin at other schools in the area, make new friends, have new teachers, and continue to grow up. It occurs to me now that this unusual year has in some ways been a great gift and blessing to them. Even though they did not learn so much in the world of academics, they have had a kind of freedom within their middle childhood which is rare in the western world. They have been left to their own devices many days, which they took as opportunities to play, to laugh, to dream together. At this moment they are bonded deeply, and the love which they have shared will undoubtedly nourish them for years to come. Though I have a twinge of sadness because I will no longer see them every day, I too have gained something of great value by knowing these Danish kids. The show went on, and now it is done. There will be more shows, more art, more creations to unfold for me in Denmark. I will take their smiles and laughter and love with me to the next place I journey, with lots of gratitude for all the lessons given and received.