Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Making a Malvolio

March, 2009

"Okie-dokie, Henry, what do you think about your character, Malvolio?"

Henry and I are in the school library having a private rehearsal.

"Well, Ms. Ryane, I think Malvolio is funny."

When he says the word funny, Henry flattens his hands and spreads his arms wide as if to show me...hands-down funny.

Henry and I study a few of the words he's unsure of:

    Sheriff's post
    (he will always pronounce this "unceevil" and it's just too sweet to mess with)

"Henry, who runs Lady Olivia's house? Like who makes sure of the rules and stuff like that, do you think?"

"Me?" he answers with his impish Henry-grin,

"You bet. And here we go with those rule-breakers...who are they?"

"Well, Sir Toby and Andrew, and also Maria...oh, and also Feste."

"That's right. They are just impossible. They stay up all night singing and dancing and making a racket and waking everybody up —"

"And don't forget, Ms. Ryane! Drinking! They are getting drunk all the time."

"Oh I know, it's terrible and it's your job to keep peace in the house and they make so much trouble for you. That's what you mean when you say, 'Sir Toby, I must be round with you'; you give them warnings and they pay you no mind at all. Then they play a nasty trick on you with the fake letter. Very irritating, huh?"

"Yes. It makes me sooo angry." He thinks about this for a minute.

"Ms. Ryane, what about would this be if I did this when Maria says 'Go shake your ears!' "

And he acts like Maria's blasted him through a loudspeaker. Henry tips over, balances on one foot, shakes his head with his hand covering his ears and staggers offstage.

I'm dumbfounded.

"Hey Ms. Ryane, what about when I find Viola and have to give her the ring, if I do this?"

And he runs up, stops,doubles over as if he has a crick in his side after a ten-mile sprint and gasps for air.

Were you not even now with the Countess Olivia?


I read Viola's part.

Even now, sir.

She returns this ring to you. Receive it so.

From his pocket Henry pulls out a small toy rabbit to use as the ring.

She took no bunny of me. I'll none of it.

Henry falls on the floor and kills himself laughing because I said "bunny" instead of "ring."

He rolls around saying, " said bunny!" and I'm nearly weeping because Henry's joy is contagious and life can't get better than this.

"Henry, the out of breath idea's brilliant. Where did you come up with it?"

Henry twinkles conspiratorially. "I saw it in the movie!" and he jumps in the air. "In the movie, Malvolio was on a bike....I don't have a bike but I could be like running or something.

"Hey, Ms. Ryane, what d'you think of this: When I say to Olivia, 'T'was well-writ,' if I do this?"

And he holds a pinkie up to his cheek and wriggles it up and down. "T'was written well" in a sing-song voice.

He never gets the line exactly right and it doesn't matter because the kid's a comic genius.

"Henry, I looked everywhere for yellow stockings and finally had to order a pair online. They're not exactly correct because the black stripes aren't cross-gartered but you see what you think of these."

He flips out.

"For me? I get to wear yellow-stockings!"

"Yup. I figure you'll have them on the whole time and then before you come out for the yellow-stockings scene...just roll your jeans up to your knees. Good?"

"Awesome. AWESOME, Ms. Ryane...I love them."

Not as much as I love you, my friend.


My life in Illyria is a suvent. The food I eat is awesome. Do you know who I am?

You don't. I am Malvoleo! It is fun being a survent. But Sir Toby and Sir Anderw and Festa are so anowing!
—Henry, 3rd grade


  1. If I stoop and make myself smaller, can I be in the club? You sound awesome to work with!

  2. You can crawl, you can beg but I'll see right through your trickery.

  3. The little ocean-maker is quite the talker... "I'll tell Ms. Ryane," I threaten. Works.


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