Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lyndon, Faith & Iris: In the Wings

Quietly, patiently they stand on the sidelines, not knowing if they'll ever be chosen.

These are the wallflowers of a school population. You may spot one alone reading on a bench, or on the edge of the softball lineup or in the wings of a stage...waiting, ready and hopeful.

When I auditioned Iris, a third-grader, she was generous to a fault.

"It's okay, Ms. Ryane, if I don't get in this year. I'll understand."

And I picked a boy over her.

I had a similar experience with a Faith, a fourth-grader.

"I do think I really would like acting, Ms. Ryane...but you's okay...maybe props would be fun too."

And I picked a boy over her.

Lyndon had decided to be our stage manager instead of an actor this year and a journal entry clued me in to his regret.

Iris and Faith would now join our ranks and replace the "released" Danny and Russell.

Lyndon. Lyndon. What to do? Give him more responsibility. More than just leading the group into Room 39, or helping set up chairs, or handing out snacks....I had to give him something big.

"Lyndon, the cast is going to do a dance at the end of the play and I want you to stage it."

His eyes popped wide. "Sure, Ms. Ryane, okay!"

In my yoga class I heard a song that I decided to use for this dance. A sweet love song that ended up as a famous ditty used in not one but two nationally-televised television commercials. "Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop" by Landon Pigg.

I think that possibly
Maybe I'm falling for you
Yes, there's a chance that I've fallen quite hard over you

"Hey, that's the AT&T song!" Geoffrey pointed out.

"Yeah, yeah...I know, rats. Anyway."

Lyndon made a list of all the actors and together we paired them up. I brought in ten pieces of yellow ribbon and he handed those out.

"Okay, Lyndon, you tell those ten where to stand on the stage and then have their partners join up and each hold a ribbon end."

For a ten-year-old to enforce even the simplest of commands to his fellow students is a challenge (I mean, it's hard for me and I'm an adult), but he did okay and we got them up and walking in circles to the music. Kind of a "walking around" dance.

Faith, another right hand, dutifully adopted the task of placing scripts and props at each chair. As an actor, she had only tiny parts, that of "guard" and "sailor," but she remembered her cues, learned her two lines and never complained.

Iris had one line as another "sailor" and she was entirely accountable.

Lyndon sat next to me in rehearsals. He recorded blocking and took performance notes:

    Geoffrey and Luis—NEED TO WORK HARDER!!!
    Polly—GOOD on long speech!!!
    Susan—remember RUG PROP!!!

His notes were adamant and I always asked him to address the cast with his thoughts at the end of each rehearsal.

Quietly, patiently, they stand on the sidelines, not knowing if they'll ever be chosen.

Dear Anne,

I am living a life of misery here in London. Bad things are happening here, first of all, I did not manage to get a good job. I got a job as a water boy in a theater and I am not getting payed very much. (at least a penny a day) I miss you very much. I also miss Suzzana, Hamnet and Judith.

—Darby, 4th grade


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