BRAD COOREMAN, THEATER
From May 6-9, nineteen Middle School students travelled with Franck Bessone and me to the Dallas Multilingual Theatre Festival hosted by the Dallas International School. We had been working on a remount of the production of Liberté ou la mort: The Story of Toussaint L’ouverture and the Haitian Revolution, an original play developed by the eighth-grade class of 2014
through a multidisciplinary project that involved Histoire/Géographie, French, English, and Theater classes.
After the success of last year’s show I was approached
by then Middle School Principal, Mireille Rabaté, to
consider taking this show to the Dallas Festival. After
Mireille’s departure to London in November, current
Middle School Principal, Antoine Delaitre, continued
with the same enthusiastic support. In March of this
year we began our rehearsals with a new group of very
talented and dedicated students.
Prior to leaving for the festival we performed twice:
once as a sneak preview for families and friends of students in the show, and then a second time at the Middle
School Arts Evening. But the big show, the one we were
gearing up for, would take place in Dallas.
Other schools participating in this year’s festival were
the French American School of San Diego, the Russian
School of Dallas, and, of course, the Dallas International
School. We performed to a full house of students and
teachers from these schools and I have to say, this was
the best performance yet. Our students were focused,
engaging and didn’t skip a beat. I was very proud of
them. The audience loved the show, and left chanting
“liberté ou la mort!” after the final bow.
But the festival was not only about taking a performance to Dallas. There were also a number of physical
theatre workshops that were organized by the festival as
well. These were great. We participated in workshops
for stage combat, circus arts, clowning, and mime. It
was wonderful to watch the students not only bond with
each other, but also make many new friends from different schools. Each workshop had great moments but the
stage combat workshop (where they were taught how to
hit, choke, and kick each other) resulted in some very
entertaining video footage.
After our return to San Francisco I met with the students one last time to talk about the trip and ask them
what did they liked or disliked about the experience.
Their answers were simple, but very telling. What did
they like? “Everything." What did they dislike? “
Noth-ing," they told me. “We want more!“ In short, a great
time was had by all.
There are many people to thank: the parents for their
support, the Dallas International School for creating the
event, Franck Bessone for chaperoning and working with
me on the show, Mireille Rabaté and Antoine Delaitre
for input and support, Raquel Constenla for much traveling advice, Jeff François, Dan Harder, Kathy Halter, and
Catherine Santos de Silva for taking time in their classes
to work on the development of the script, and Mouna
Harifi who came up with the idea in the first place.
The historical pertinence of our students’ work was
evident just days after their Dallas visit, when François
Hollande became the first French President to make a
formal visit to Haiti. During his visit, Hollande stated,
“There is a moral debt that exists” with Haiti, once
France's most profitable colony.
MIDDLE SCHOOL THESPIANS PARTICIPATE IN THE DALLAS MULTILINGUAL THEATRE FESTIVAL