Thursday, November 19, 2009

Geoffrey & Kate: Not-Twins

It's not difficult to notice the twins phenomenon of this generation. In the four years of Shakespeare Club, there has only been one year without twins.

This year I had twins, Polly and Ethan, playing the twins in "Twelfth Night."

Now I have a story of not-twins acting like twins.

Geoffrey first came to my attention as a third-grader auditioning for the club. Geoffrey is a top-notch little actor who can also rip out the blues on his harmonica. I noticed his family when he played Horatio in "Hamlet." His mom, dad and a darling little girl dressed in a pink dress, with bows in her hair: This was Geoffrey's sister, Kate. The next year when Geoffrey played Romeo, the family again attended and Kate said, "Hello, Ms. Ryane," and asked if she could hand out programs.

"Of course," I responded. "Good idea and thank you so much."

I later found out those first two years of Geoffrey's success were due in no small part to Kate helping her brother with his lines...over and over and over.

When "Romeo and Juliet" ended and the club held their wrap party, I made sure Kate was included. I was already thinking ahead to the next year's casting and decided that Geoffrey would be perfect as Sir Toby Belch.

At the party, however, Kate told me the family was moving away.

I was heartsick at the idea of losing Geoffrey, but so it goes. I met privately with both children to say good-bye. I gave Geoffrey his journal and a copy of "Romeo and Juliet."

Then I sat in the sun with Kate.

"Kate, I'm curious. In the two years that you helped Geoffrey with his lines and helped The Shakespeare Club in other ways, why didn't you ever audition and join us?"

"Oh," she said shyly, "I just...well...I just didn't think I'd be good enough to get, I didn't and now...." She looked sad. "Now it's too late and we're moving and everything."

I had a special red velvet journal for Kate as a going-away gift and handed it to her.

"You know, Kate, I'm sorry too that you didn't audition, but you've learned something that many adults never, ever learn. You've learned to listen to your instincts and take a chance even if it's scary. Deep inside you is a place, Kate, where everything you need to know sits like your own private library. Listen to your heart and you'll always come out fine."

"Okay, Ms. Ryane," she whispered, and we hugged good-bye.

Geoffrey and Kate were in the same grade and helped and supported each other, but they weren't twins. I later found out their parents had held Kate back so that she would always be close to her brother. I'm uneasy at such an idea, but that's the most I'll comment on it.

November rolled around and it was time to set up auditions. I stepped onto the campus and heard two young voices shouting, "Ms. Ryane!"

They came running toward me, faces shining, out of breath and both ready to sign up. The house move didn't happen but another more profound move had.

"Ah, Kate...stepping up. Taking a chance?"


My life in Illyria is just bumbin' MAN! All I get to eat in board is (obiesly) fish! & MAN! Don’t you get tired , if all you have to do is catch some fish & eat some fish & be a sailor & eat some fish. Oh! Did I mention I was tempted to eat chinese, but well…I guess fish souffle was already, my house is a small boat (that had everything inside like a house!) I hate my job!
—Kate, 5th grade

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