Thursday, 22 October 2009

Club Romania Drinks are Free...Fun and Sunshine, There's Enough for Everyone

In between acting work, I am doing rather a lot of teaching at the moment, teaching acting that is or the uses of drama or various acting techniques and this week I had the pleasure of visiting a school that made me a good way.

As is the usual policy here, I will not name the school, needless to say it in the Leyton area of London and I was there to offer a morning of drama workshops exploring the idea of peer pressure (not the in the good sense, ie: the epic scale of peer pressure that holds us all together as humans but the school sense of peer pressure: the many forcing the few to do things they don't want to).

Slightly rambunctious at first but soon set to order when I waded in with some tough discipline, the sessions were going very well, with students producing good work using Augusto Boal's classic exercise on repression: 3 people marching and 1 person dancing; with the aim of the 3 to stop the 1 by any means necessary.

All fine and dandy, until that is the final class of the day came in, nothing untoward at first until I asked them to get into groups and then, the usual fuss aside, I noticed one of the groups was chattering in a langauge I did not recognise.

The teacher, who was a real legend after outing himself as gay and fat while we discussed the homophobic tactic of boys making other boys feel less than them by accusing them of being 'a poof', noticed my confusion and simply said...

"This is Club Romania."

It turns out that a lot of Romanians are coming to live in Leyton and that this school has become a favourite to send young Romanians to, as they bond together, strength in numbers I suppose but the teachers labelling of them as "Club Romania" should have felt wrong but in the context of his style and how they behaved, it was entirely appropriate.

Got me thinking about where you draw the line when working with young people. I'm teaching a lot in mainly Muslim schools at the moment and some cultural elements that I witness really annoy me and seem to hold the children back from engaging and learning, especially the female students who are consumed by a performance of piety and shyness and I struggle to balance my own politics with the demands of my work.

Oh well, at least at Club Romania...

"All that's missing is the sea but don't worry, you can suntan!"


  1. Very interesting post. I guess I've always felt a bit different about the Romanians to most people in the UK as my Dad was a pilot who was held as a prisoner of war in Bucharest during WWII. The Romanians were allies of the Nazi's, which clearly was not a good thing, but my Dad explained to me that this was a marriage of convenience as they had to choose between Stalin & Hitler and basically backed the wrong horse. Had they chosen Stalin, they'd have been invaded.

    As a result of his experiences, I've always had a notion that Romania was somewhere I should know a bit more about. It seems to be a country of severe contradictions. It was ruled for years by a vile dictator, Causescu, who was made a knight of the realm by HRH. This was purely because he kowtow'd a bit less than the rest of the Warsaw Pact to the USSR. Romanian citizens were also treated differently to all other EU citizens when joining the EU.

    It strikes me that we seem to feel that Romanians are in some way, shape or form different to other EU citizens. In some ways this is true, they are much poorer and their country had a far more repressive recent history than any other EU state.

    I think it's sad when there is a sense of Otherness about any group. I've got a couple of friends who are Romanian immigrants. Like all of my friends, the important thing is who they are, not where they are from.

    As to the shy muslim girls, they are at the school. That is a start. They need help finding their feet. Sounds like you are giving that help which is what it's all about.

    Sometimes you just have to realise you can't win them all, but you can make things a little bit better in a small way.

  2. Leyton! Now you is talking about my turf, brother...

  3. Rog T:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment and personal insights, in my reading and research it seems that Romania is taking some backward steps politically and drifitng towards the right.


    E10 through and through.

  4. I hate to say it because it smacks of close-mindedness, but culture can be wrong. Better said, aspects of cultures. Hackneyed to say, I know, but generally, the isms.

  5. Well...I don't have first-hand experience of it, but from what I read around it looks like the former-Soviet bloc country are experiencing a huge surge in homophobia. And like Ellie writes above, culture (and certainly "aspects" of culture) can be VERY wrong.

  6. Ellie:

    Yes, some cultures can be wrong so to speak, in that they can have elements to them that are barbaric or negative, obviously that is subjective but saying it doesn't make you close minded.


    Yes, total agreement with that but much of it stems from a re-embracing of religion, which in turn is pretty riddled with homophobia.


Please do not be under the misapprehension that this blog has a laissez-faire comments policy where commenters can get away with whatever they want to say on account of their ‘freedom of speech’.

Blurred Clarity has a stringent comments policy. So anything off-topic, diversionary, trollish, abusive, misogynist, racist, homophobic or xenophobic will be deleted.

Cheers duckies.