Monday, July 27, 2009

Big Gifts in Small Packages


December, 2008

By Thanksgiving, casting had been completed and I disappeared from the campus after delivering my rejection/acceptance letters. Best to get outta Dodge, I determined.

My script of "Twelfth Night" was ready to go. I had a stack of journals waiting in our garage, an army of HB pencils sharpened, and Room 39 set as the space for our meetings to begin on January 14, 2009.

I was ready for some R&R and this year's club hadn't even started.

I put up a Christmas tree, hung lights on the house, fully messed up the pastry for mince tarts (throwing it in the garbage — a yearly tradition) and filled the CD player with holiday music.

And as Rosemary Clooney dreamed of a "White Christmas," I studied the best gift I could ever have dreamed up. It came in the form of an e-mail.

Dear Ms. Ryane,

My name is Rachel and I received your information from my sister, who teaches at the school. She mentioned that you run a Shakespeare Club that puts on productions. I am very interested in volunteering with your program.

I am a classically trained actress with years of experience working with children. I recently relocated to LA from New York and I am eager to get involved with a Shakespeare program. While in New York I worked with an educational theatre company, performing in museums, libraries and schools, that gave me a true passion for opening young minds to the classics. I have a pretty available schedule and I would love to help out any way I can.

Please feel free to call me.

Could this be? I mean, is she for real?

The idea of having another adult in the room...the concept of help...and she's a trained actor....I mean, seriously, is she for real?

I enthusiastically responded to Rachel's e-mail, giving her an update of the schedule. That night, I tucked into bed with visions of sugar plums and HELP...I was going into Year Four with HELP...dancing in my head.

Yes, Mel, there is a Santa Claus. And Los Angeles is his first stop.

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