Headline June 07, 2016/ ''' THE AMERICAN *SCHOOL* OF TANGIER '''



The AMERICAN SCHOOL OF TANGIER  was founded in 1950 by a group of Americans as an alternative to French and Spanish elementary schools in Morocco.

At the time,  Tangier  was still an international zone   -administered jointly by nine countries. But the large diplomatic staff at the American Legation, employees of  the  Voice of America  radio station, and the management of the Coca-Cola planted created an American presence in the city-

Which had already become a haven for artists and intellectuals such as writer Paul and Jane Bowles   [The Sheltering Sky]  and  {Two Serious Ladies}; William Burroughs  (Naked Lunch),  who was known by locals as   ''El Hombre Invisible'' , Allen Ginsberg; and Tennessee Williams.

In the early 1950s, when Tangier was the decadence of choice for writers, iconoclasts, and wealthy socialites whose pleasures ran towards the sybaritic, theater was a way of life.

Most of the drama occurred offstage, in the gossip soaked salons, accompanied by the sound of distant drums and the occasional muezzin, and on the streets at night.

The late  David Herbert, son of the 15th Earl of Pembroke and one of Tangier's most stylish and outrageous personalities, loved to show off his wit at charity musicales by entertaining   -in drag.

Staged readings, however, were held by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton -known for wearing an imposing  emerald-and-diamond tiara that had belonged to Catherine the Great and plucking a Moorish lute  -in her palace at the Casbah.

Hutton who opened, who opened her doors to Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill, Greta Garbo, Cecil Beaton, Claudette Colbert, and Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas, diversified the occasions with belly dancers, camel drivers, and  ''blue people,''  North African tribesmen whose skin was tinted with same indigo they used on their robes.

Hutton received guests  ''as if she was in reality''  playing a scene on the stage,'' recalled Beaton, the royal photographer. She was ''too euphoric to communicate except by pantomime.''

Today, despite the loss of many of its flamboyant citizens, Tangier has not lost its interest in artifice and things theatrical. But the players are more youthful now, and the center of activity is no longer an heiress, but a headmaster.

Joseph, McPhillips of of the American School of Tangier has directed his students,  aged 13 to 18, in productions of  Oscar Wilde's  Salome, the American musical classic  The Fantasticks, and   Euripides Bacchae, with costumes by the couturier  Yves Saint Laurent.

Saint Laurent's partner, Pierre Berge, is a member of the school's corporate board of trustees and is an international philanthropist whose beneficiaries include the school.

The school has even presented a Japanese Noah as adapted by Yukio Mishima. In 1997, McPhillips and company presented  The Royal Hunt For The Sun, by Peter Shaffer for which Michael Roberts, served as artistic director.   

One year later, keeping with the his eclectic tradition, McPhillips chose a play by an Irishman about a french saint  -George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan.

On a furlough in Manhattan in 1997, McPhillips was inspired by the  Museum of  Modern Art's exhibition of  theater design by Russian Constructivists Vladmir and Georgii  Stenberg, who created the sets and the costumes for the 1924 Moscow premiere of Shaw's great work.

McPhillips obtained the photographs of the designs, adapted the sets in collaboration with members of the faculty in Tangier, and arranged for the costumes to be copied by two other teachers and a Gibraltarian seamstress.

As you might expect from someone who once worked as an assistant to an off Broadway producer, McPhillips staging was confidently professional. The intrepid young actors, although untrained, moved naturally in their austere, geometric costumes and handles Shaw's dialogue with ease.
Their sophistication, as well as the mixture of spontaneity and discipline which their stage work revealed, owes much to Mcphillips, but more perhaps to the city where the school is situated, a palace of clamoring souks,cafes in the medina, and outrageous personages.

Ten years later,  after Tangier had become part of an independent Morocco, many members of the international business community left and the school began to lose American students.

But by 1962, when McPhillips was engaged as an English teacher, private donations and a grant from  the United States  government had enabled this  unorthodox academy to acquire 31 acres of land,  construct a new, larger complex, and develop complete elementary through high-school programs.

A Princeton graduate from a  well-to-do family in Alabama, the 26-year old  McPhillips  had been living in Paris after having traveled extensively in Europe and Africa. Eszra Pond's son, Omar, who had just been appointed headmaster of the school, met McPhillips, who was a great admirer of the elder Pound, when McPhillips first arrived in Tangier.

He had fallen under the spell of Morocco, but could not tolerate the lives of some of his fellow expatriates, who lived for the cocktail party, diplomatic dinner, or the next reception held by the Comte de Paris, pretender to the throne of France.

McPhillips found an alternative to all the foolishness two years into his tenure, when a group of students suggested that he celebrate Shakespeare's  400th  birthday   by directing them in scenes from his plays. 

A tradition was born. Since then, the school has presented a  * student production*  every year. Everyone involved donates his services, and the Moroccan government supplies the performance a space, a lecture hall and a stage at the  Palais du Marshan.

For two nights,  parents of students and friends of the school fill the house, and the proceeds from the  400 available tickets, which are sold for $10 a piece, cover the expenses.    
After a break from 1969 to 1972, during which he traveled and worked for Lyn Austin, an  Off Broadway producer, McPhillips returned to the school in 1973 and was appointed headmaster.

Unfortunately, a business crisis in the region had further decreased the number of American and European students. But, as McPhillips discovered on a tour of Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, there was hope. Like Morocco, these countries had American diplomats who were eager to educate their children. 

In 1999, they could afford the school. Fees were around about $3,000 a year for Moroccans and $5,000 for non-Moroccans, and $10,000 for dependents of American diplomats and businessmen. Admissions rose steadily. 

The student body grew from 180 in the early 1970s to 340 in 1998.

The Honour and Serving of  ''Operational Research on Great Schools and Schooling''  continues.  Thank Ya all for reading and sharing forward. And see you on the following one.
With respectful dedication to the Students, Head Masters, Professors, Teachers of every school in the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the  World Students Society and !E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Social Study '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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