Monday, November 23, 2009

Theresa: Drawing Out the Talent

April, 2009

In fourth grade, Theresa played Juliet's nurse. This year she would be our Sea Captain, with her big scene with Viola at the start of the play, after they land on the shores of Illyria.

As the nurse in "Romeo and Juliet," Theresa fought hard to give us what we needed. I pushed and pushed for Theresa to give volume and to slooooowww down as she sped through her speeches. Upon finding Juliet passed out on the floor, she had to run in, crying:

Get up!
Why, lamb! Why, lady! Why, love! Why, bride!
Dressed in your clothes and now back in bed?
Help! Help! My lady's dead!

Oh boy. This was a reach for Theresa. I worked with her alone. I asked her to shout, but she creaked it up only an itsy-bitsy bit louder. Theresa wanted to do it so badly but she couldn't find her actor courage or her actor voice.

A super-bright girl, this year she whipped through the "Twilight" books like a speed-reader. I'd see her during lunch breaks reading novels or studying her lines. She was off-book before anyone else, but Theresa is quite simply off-the-charts shy.

She lives with her sisters, dad and stepmom. Sometimes she would miss school and our meetings.

"Hey, Theresa, are you okay? You didn't come to school or Shakespeare Club."

"Oh, sorry," she'd whisper. My't wake up to drive me."

One day, going through Theresa's journal, I saw drawings she'd done to accompany her writing. Stick figures with cartoon symbols indicating emotional reactions. There was one of Theresa fighting with her sisters. Sweat drops flew, eyes popped in fury and jagged bolts speared from heads. The sketches were advanced and remarkable.

I asked Theresa if she would consider contributing drawings to go along with some journal excerpts for display at our performance. She blushed and said, "Okay."

I set her up in the library with pens, pencils and colored markers. She drew Shakespeare as a "waterboy," balancing a tray with glasses of water and more tumblers perched on his head. She drew Queen Elizabeth powdering her face, with white fluffs floating around her worried look. She had Shakespeare under a family portrait, writing home as he wept over his letter.

I wish I could show you what Theresa came up with, but I returned the work to her after the performance. When I knew I would be writing a blog piece about her, I sent Theresa a letter with a pen, paper and a self-addressed stamped envelope asking her to copy some of her drawings to put on this site. I didn't hear back. A few weeks later I called her house and left a message. Nothing.

All I have are a few tidbits she drew for our program.

Before the performances of "Twelfth Night," I spoke to the audience and told of how exciting it was for me to see talents emerge in The Shakespeare Club. We see actors, writers, singers, musicians and, this year, a visual artist.

"My advice," I said, "would be to get this girl's autograph now....She's going to be famous. Theresa, please stand."

This impossibly shy talent bravely stood and accepted her due.

In The Shakespeare Club I hope to learn more about Shakespeare and learn to a better actor and be less shy so I can act better.
—Theresa, 5th grade

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