Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hard News: On the Lecture Circuit

Here's a hackneyed phrase I never need to hear again:

"They'll be fine. Kids are resilient....They'll survive...."

Maybe they will; maybe they won't.
Maybe they do; maybe they don't.

Here's another popular quip that makes me cringe:

"I have no regrets."

Really? None? If that's true it means you have never made a mistake, hurt someone or transgressed. And if that is so, you may not be human.

Of course, stuff happens, actions are taken and there is fallout; but too often these weak comforts serve as panaceas and the consequences can be long-lasting, as the following study attests:

Childhood stress can trigger adult depression (LA Times)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Mailbag

Occasionally I receive questions and do my best to give helpful answers. I will share those I think may be of interest to you, the reader.

Should you wish to send me your own query, click "Contact Me" on the sidebar.

Here is a question and my answer:


First I would like to thank you on behalf of all the students you have helped in these past years. I am starting an afterschool Shakespeare Club here at my school, where I was recently hired to work with a Pull out Program of GT students. Since I do not want leave any of the students feeling left out I want to start an Afterschool Shakespeare Club where all the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students will have an opportunity to participate. Where do I start? To be honest I do not know, I am doing all this on my own with no help. I know I can get it accomplished not for my talent but for the love, passion, and energy that I am willing to give these students. I was an ELL myself when I came to the States and I know what most of these students are going through.

I would appreciate any suggestions, tips, comments that you can suggest to get this Club up and running as soon as possible.

I'm excited that you want to do this. I'm not sure what "GT students" are but here's a little advice.

Pick up, in a library or bookstore or on Amazon, copies of "A Child's Portrait of Shakespeare" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Lois Burdett. Lois was a second-grade teacher (now retired) who started doing Shakespeare with her students.

The first book is a way kids can read aloud about who Shakespeare was. Also, find library books for kids about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan period and have them write in journals and draw pictures of things they learn with you.

Lois has adapted many of Shakespeare's plays for children. My first year I took Lois' version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and added some more of the original text. I created a narrator, using her writing, and The Shakesepare Club was able to stage a 45-minute performance. The kids don't have to memorize lines but get them to read really well and spend time helping them learn new words from the text.

You might want to begin your club with no more than 15 kids. It's a lot to take on. It's a good idea to start with a little deep breathing to get them settled. A few physical warm-ups because actors have to be in good shape. Some humming to warm up their voices.

Together you can all figure out the plot of the play. Take a few meetings to read it through and discuss what is going on.

Good luck!

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Elizabethan Christmas

At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows;
But like of each thing that in season grows.

—William Shakespeare

Heap on the wood!
The wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.

—Sir Walter Scott

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish,
And loves we used to know.

—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.

—Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

24 Little Hours

May, 2009

Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?
Twelfth Night Act II, Scene III

For two straight days, beginning with our technical day and continuing through a long day of performances, there was much for me to do — with the overriding obligation of food, food and more food. Actors, like athletes, work harder, faster and stay alert if they know a buffet awaits them.

For my part, I knew somewhere in Los Angeles a frosty margarita had my name on it, once all was said and done in iambic verse.

After a full day of lighting and sound design and after showing the kids the movie "Drumline," I got into my car with Belinda for her long drive home. On arrival, I spoke with Belinda's grandmother.

"Tomorrow's the big day," I chirped.

"What do you mean?" Granny asked.

"The performances. The Shakespeare Club. 'Twelfth Night'?"

Granny gave Belinda a puzzled look. I followed her gaze and gave Belinda my own question mark.

"Belinda, did you give your Mom and your Granny the program with the performance schedule?"

Belinda shrugged and said nothing.

"Okay, then," I fixed on Granny. "Tomorrow Belinda will be performing 'Twelfth Night' at ten-thirty, one o'clock, three o'clock and a final show at six o'clock."

"Then Shakespeare Club is over?" Granny asked.

"Yes, there will be a final party, but basically the year will be done."

"Oh, thank God," Granny sighed and then looked up, startled. "I know...."

And I did know. The Shakespeare Club, for all its good intentions, had proven itself a burden to this family.

"Will you be able to make the six o'clock performance?" I asked.

"We'll be there," Granny answered.

"Good," it was my turn to sigh. "It's just that Belinda could use a ride home tomorrow night."

I hate to admit this, I really do, but I was already thinking of leaving the school the next night with my husband for my rendezvous with that margarita. A two-hour drive to get Belinda home would have been problematic.

I said good-bye to Belinda and Granny and headed off to Costco to pick up trays of turkey wraps, cases of water and platters of fruit. Then to the pizza parlor to arrange for the next day's pie delivery.

Performance day had me up at 6:30 a.m. and on the road by 7:30. I had to gather children, hand out blue Shakespeare Club T-shirts, warm up bodies and voices and...oh they come...our first wildly excited student audience.

The actors sat onstage wide-eyed and in shock as the auditorium filled with their classmates. Up to this very moment, they were fuzzy on why they'd been rehearsing for months. Oh, the jolt of knowledge.

As teachers settled their students, I walked to each child onstage and gave a private encouraging whisper in each tiny ear.

I'm not entirely sure it had an effect on any of them, but I know it helped me to have something concrete to do before stepping away and leaving them to do their jobs.

I learned how to a better actor and person. I also learned how to remember my lines. I felt awesome on stage. I will always remember the fun of rehearsing and memorizing my lines. I will also remember my friends in the Shakespeare Club and the acting.

Shakespeare Club Rules!!!!!!!

My dream is to be a famous cartoonist. I think that job would be fun!!!!!
Theresa, 5th grade

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Night Before...

May, 2009

Rachel and I were able to corral enough of the cast's energy to get the cues set. She needed to leave, which was perfectly fine. No doubt she could use a break and a tumbler full of Scotch after her harrowing trips to the top of the ladder and her adventures with the lighting equipment.

Because this was a Wednesday, our usual meeting day, the children were not only out of their classrooms during school for rehearsals, but also after school. I needed to get out of the auditorium because others were promised access, so I lined them up and we went to the library.

"Tomorrow's the big day," I started, as they found seats.

"How will we know where to go and stuff?" Henry asked.

"Lyndon, your stage manager, will come to each of your classrooms to get you and bring you to the auditorium. I'll be waiting with your 'Twelfth Night' T-shirts."

This got a big reaction from the girls. Clothes. Need I say more?

"What will we eat?" asked Nathan, with a worried look.

"Well, luckily for us, Nathan, your mom has volunteered to bring the recess snack. Then you'll have your regular lunch break. And after the three o'clock performance, we'll have our company picnic."

Big reaction from the boys. Food. What more can I say?

"What are we doing now?" Geneva asked.

"Good question. And I have an answer. I'm going to show you guys a movie. It's not a movie of a Shakespeare play...but it has Shakespearean elements. Like a kind of war. Like characters cheating. Like characters who want power, love and revenge."

"What movie?" yelled Luis.

"It's a movie about teamwork, and why do you think I might want to show you a movie about teamwork?"

"Because there's no 'I' in team?" offered Geoffrey.

"Correct. Tomorrow you will survive on stage because of each other. Here it is: a movie called 'Drumline'."

I pressed a button on the remote, and on it came in all of its drumming glory. They watched the small television screen, rapt. In the dim light I watched their faces. I was equally entranced. In less than 24 hours they would leave my fingertips because they were ready. For the light, the adventure, and an audience.

I learned how to be an actor and hoe to connect to my character. I also learned how to memerized my lines.

It felt good when they laughed. I knew I wasn't loud enough. I will always remember the fun I had in the Shakespeare club.

Playing the part was cool because I learned not to dress up as a boy.
Polly, 5th grade

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Set-Up

May, 2009

Tech Day had me up at the crack of dawn — hardly a leap, since I'd tossed all night making "Remember this!" lists in my head. I needed to be at the school by 8 a.m. I had to get the tallest ladder we could find and send Clint Eastwood, a.k.a. Rachel, up to the top to adjust the lamps.

This job should have gone to a father in the booster club, but all the men of the booster club went missing on this day. Don't get me started. I was able to recruit my husband to set up the sound equipment, but he and I are both of short stature and even on a ladder would not have been able to reach those lamps.

I gritted my teeth and looked at the bright side. I had Rachel, well-versed, as it turns out, in theatrical lighting and staggeringly, beautifully tall.

I held the ladder as Rachel scaled to the top and, with the agility of Spider-Woman, grabbed on to a lamp. Using a wrench, balancing on one foot with the other placed on a ledge, Rachel gave a tug to loosen the bracket...loosen the bracket...loosen the &%#(*^@%! bracket....

That I was holding the ladder was preposterous to begin with. It wasn't like I could save her if she tumbled. Rachel huffed and puffed, grunted and cussed, precariously way up above me. My stomach was in knots. One false heave, move, step....

But she did it. Rachel forced those brackets to yield, she adjusted their aim, she taped in colored gels and created luminary magic for our show. Honestly, we would have been sunk without her.

Halfway through the morning, Anthony and Pablo, our tech crew, arrived for a coaching session on how to operate their equipment. Because they are both fifth-graders, I gave them a reminder on the rigorous professionalism expected of them. In other words, there was no time for horsing around. Lyndon joined us and we grouped together with our scripts open.

"Lyndon, look at the top of your first page. I've written: Stand by light cue one. See that?"


"And underneath: Go light cue one?"


We were off. Lyndon learned how to cue his crew and they learned how to respond. We had lights and sound. Bring in the actors. Chaos would reign. Kids, in the theatre for the first time, as the shocking truth descended: Tomorrow we really do this.


I was scared when I knew I had to perform in front of a bunch of people. I fergot my lines but, my friend helped me remember them.
Beth, 4th grade

Spider-Woman artwork by Paul Sizer

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

About This Blog

If you are new to Teaching Will, here's a quick word about how it works:

I started this blog on July 6, 2009, as a way to get the stories of public-school children, and their adventures with me in an after-school Shakespeare program, into the world.

In the last six months, I've chronicled Year Four, which started in January of 2009 and ended in June of 2009 with a production of "Twelfth Night."

If you've recently happened upon Teaching Will, you might consider drifting over to the "Blog Archive" section in the sidebar, starting with July and rolling forward.

In January of 2010, the stories of Year Five will begin with the auditions for a whole new club with a brand new cast of characters.

In 2010, The Shakespeare Club will tackle "Macbeth." May the Force be with us....God knows we'll need it as we forge into this dark tale of skewed ambition and murderous acts. Will the curse of the play land on our humble doorstep? Will we be felled by the Swine Flu? Will the group stay together with more s and fewer xs? I'm already freaked out and it's only December. Stay tuned.

I achieved being in Shakespeare Club.
I achieved, I'm not sure anymore.
The audience was horrifying, because My parents and friends were there.
Is what I felt like with the audience.
Iris, 3rd grade

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hard News: Interview, Part III

I was recently interviewed by Vibrant Nation about The Shakespeare Club. These were the last two questions:

3. What do you find most difficult about your work, and how do you overcome it?

The most difficult aspect of my work is always managing classroom chaos. It's a power struggle that teachers are familiar with and I've had to learn as I go. It's my job to control the room and it's the kid's job to wrestle that control away from me. I learn and listen to the professionals, the teachers, and bit by bit get better at it...on some days.

The teachers have taught me some great tricks. Last year I learned the counting trick. Just start counting backwards: 10, 9, 8... If you run out of time, start at 5. I don't know why, but it works - the kids settle down. I also learned that auditions are important. To be committed, the kids need to feel that they earned their place in the club. And I need to set boundaries and enforce them. I've had to fire some students from Shakespeare Club. It's better for the group and for the child - everyone learns something from it.

One student that I kicked out of Shakespeare Club came back later - not to act, because he had given up that privilege - but to handle the lighting board. He turned his behavior around 180 degrees. At the end of the year, he wrote in his journal, "Thank you for giving me another chance." This year, his little brother wants to run lights. It's becoming a family tradition!

4. What can others do to support your cause?

I started my blog Teaching Will as a way to get the stories of these kids out into the world. They're learning to scan iambic verse. They're performing. They're studying character, and writing in their journals. And you can see the results in their regular school work.

I would love to see Shakespeare clubs pop up all over the country but, in lieu of that dream, I hope people read these stories and get inspired to do something in a public school. One-on-one reading with some little kid is hugely gratifying and can make a gigantic difference in a child's future.

Support my cause by starting your own.

I liked it because of the characters and I had fun doing the play. It was a little funny because the actors where funny and had a lot of ideas. I really liked it because I was narrator 2, and I wanted to be that. I want to join next year but I am going to be in middle school. I hope I was good in the play of Hamlet.
—Corrina, 5th grade (Year Two)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hard News: Interview, Part II

I was recently interviewed by Vibrant Nation about The Shakespeare Club. This was the second question:

2. What do you love most about the cause you support?

I love seeing kids discover their capabilities as they stretch to the highest bars of language and bravely perform in front of audiences. Most of these children have never seen a play, let alone acted in one and certainly not Shakespeare. And yet Shakespeare's plays are a great fit for them. Look at Shakespeare's themes: power, revenge, love. On every playground in every elementary school, children are fighting for the same things.

I remember one boy in the very first year of Shakespeare Club. He was struggling to learn English and feeling a lot of pressure from his parents, who not only forced him to join the club but also made him attend cultural dance classes. He was a nightmare. When he played Hamlet the following year, I told him, "You know, the cool thing about acting is, you get to do things on stage that you can't do in real life." Watching him as Hamlet talk back to his "mom" onstage was fantastic, a real breakthrough. This boy expressed all the rage and frustration he really felt - and instead of being punished, he was embraced and empowered and applauded. That's one of the most valuable things about the craft of acting. There's something rebellious about it but it also legitimizes your feelings. It's just what children need: to have their feelings taken seriously.

We had another boy who joined the club as a third grader. He wrote in his club journal, "I want to learn to read." Well, this boy became a writer and showed himself to be a comic genius. On stage, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was coming up with his own bits. By the time he played Benvolio in
Romeo and Juliet, he was saying, "Ms. Ryane, what play are we doing next year? Is it a comedy? Because I think I'm much better at comedies." A week after the play ended, he was still thinking of bits. "I should have done this at the curtain call - I don't know why I didn't think of it!" Just like a real actor.

I am so glad I am Hamlet the main character. I am the leader of the play!
—Miles, 5th grade (Year Two)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Garcia Brothers Lighting Company

Anthony became the club's first lighting operator via a circuitous route. He was cast as the Prince in "Romeo and Juliet" in Year Three. However, instead of achieving accolades for his performance, young Anthony received the three dread xs and was asked to leave the club.

We met in my office for a private discussion.

Mel's office

"Anthony, I'm sorry to tell you this but you have succeeded at getting three xs. You know what that means, right?"

Three fat tears welled up and dripped down his cheeks.

I should have been home, where I belonged, reading a novel and eating those yummy chocolate square things.

"I get kicked out?" he asked in a scratchy voice.

"Kind of a rough way to put have to leave the club."

More tears joined their precursors on top of Anthony's folded hands.

"But I wanna stay...."

"Yeah, I know. I believe you do, but you knew the rule, right?"

"Yeah...but...I'm sorry, Ms. Ryane...but please...."

They have a buttercrunch center and the chocolate is the rich dark stuff.

"Anthony, would you like us to talk this over with your teacher?"

He nodded and swiped his hand across his eyes. We walked over to his classroom to meet up with Sydney, his fourth-grade teacher. The three of us sat in a triangle, facing each other.

"Anthony," I started, "do you know how you got those three xs?"


"Let's tell your teacher what happened."

"Well, I guess I was fooling around and stuff...."

"More than that, I think," I pressed.

"Anthony, why do you think Ms. Ryane has decided you have to leave the club? Think for a minute and tell me why," Sydney said.

"Well, I guess maybe I was sorta being a kinda bully maybe...."

"Anthony, I'm going to help you out: Yes, you bullied Jack. Plus you made rude gagging sounds over the snacks that a mother went to a lot of trouble to make for us and you wouldn't participate in the warm-ups."

"But, Ms.'s hard...."

"You didn't do any of these things just once, but repeatedly. Am I wrong about this?"

"No," he whispered.

"Anthony," I leaned in close, "neither your teacher nor I think you are a bad boy. We really don't, but you are acting like a bad boy and if we ignore that, we aren't doing our work and we're not helping you. When I look at you, Anthony, I see a really good boy inside."

Anthony was not allowed back into the club as an actor, but I offered him the position of our lighting operator. He did that beautifully for two years, and Sydney reported that his classroom behavior improved overnight.

His little brother Calvin will run our lights for Year Five. Sydney says we're building a dynasty: The Garcia Brothers Lighting Company.

We're building something, all right.

They're covered in roasted pistachios.

This year my 1 year of Shakespear was fun. I leard old words from the past. When I prefromed it was fun, When I got scared it seemed like I was going to die. I help by doing lights.
Thank you Ms. Ryan for givng me another chans.

SHAKESPEARE Ms. Ryan Rocks Rocks!
—Anthony, 4th grade (Year Three)

lighting board from Flickr user Original Meighan

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hard News: Interview, Part I

I was recently interviewed by Vibrant Nation about The Shakespeare Club. This was the first question:

1. When and how did you begin to devote yourself more to giving back?

I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be an actor, dancer, or a writer - a teller of stories in some kind of limelight. I started acting at age 3 and had my Actors' Equity card by 18. I enjoyed an exciting acting career that spanned over 20 years on stage, on TV, and in film. In 1996, I finally left acting, but I continued in show business as a writer and acting coach.

At the same time, I've always done volunteer work of some kind. Acting can be a very self-centered profession, so even as a teen actor, I tried to balance that by working at the women's shelter, feeding the homeless, volunteering at church, or teaching English to new language learners.

The Shakespeare Club came to be when I found myself in a creatively fallow period at the same time that a local elementary school was reaching out to the community for help. I'd been reading about and was disturbed by the high percentage rates of young teens dropping out of school - especially minority children. By ninth grade many can't read well and they lag in math. They feel so incapable that they drop out. They become ripe for gang recruitment because they need to feel part of a family and feel cool.

I volunteered at __________ Elementary here in Los Angeles as a reading mentor because I wouldn't have been any good as a math mentor! Later, because of my acting background, I came up with the idea of kids discovering empowerment through the plays of William Shakespeare. The kids I work with are in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, and I thought if the right seeds could be planted early, maybe some of those dropout numbers could be turned around.

The Shakespeare Club after-school program at __________ Elementary is now going into its fifth year. We have twenty actors, a stage manager, and two students who handle lights and sound, as well as fifteen students who work on props during their lunch break. We work very intensely for five months during the year, both in groups and in one-on-one coaching sessions. At the end of the year, the kids do four performances in front of the entire school. It's amazing to see the kids onstage and watch them instantly become stars. I remember, after a performance of Twelfth Night, how the awed younger students came up to touch the actors' hands. It was fantastic. Shakespeare Club is now the cool club in school.

I did achieve want I wanted to achieve. I learned that its very fun. I remember some of the others lines. Watching everybody say everything that’s my favorite part. If we could choose to stay longer I would. I love acting. I can be very funny. But I was imbarrest. I think next year you see how funny I can be. This is my first year. I hope I get in Shakespeare club. I love Shakespeare.
Celia, 3rd grade

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hard News: Never Too Young

I was disappointed a few years ago when I read in our local paper of a parents' group voting yoga classes out of their school's physical education program on the grounds that the practice espoused a "religious point of view."

This should be a post about stupidity but I'm going to take the high road and simply say, "I beg to differ."

Yoga helps even little ones channel energy, emotion (

Monday, December 7, 2009

Out of the Rehearsal Hall

May, 2009

Over weeks or months of rehearsal, a cast can get very homey and comfortable in their rehearsal room. Almost as if upcoming performances had become fantasy and would remain so. It can be a jarring thing to move onto the stage.

"Hey, so do you know what today is?"

I get startled looks, as if they should know, but no guesses.

"Today is our last day in Room 39."

"Where are we going?"

"What d'ya mean, Ms. Ryane?"

"Hey, did we get kicked out?"

I fold my hands in my lap and give them a calm stare.

"No, we didn't get thrown outta the joint....We're ready to move into the auditorium for our performances next week."

"Wait a second," Luis raises his voice. "Next week? Are you kidding me?"

"No, I am not. Today we'll do a final run-through and then that's that."

It got their attention, that's for sure. The run-through was pretty good, too. Polly's Viola was heralded by the entire group as "great." Henry remembered almost all of his lines, which are particularly tricky in Malvolio's conversation with Olivia about yellow stockings, smiling and bizarre behavior.

Ethan, who had mysteriously lost his voice for the last four weeks, finally spoke above a whisper. No one was sure where his voice had gone. Could be allergies, but my guess was pure fear.

Celia, who could be counted on to whisper, did a bang-up job of creating "Thank You!" murals for the Props Crew and for the students of Room 39. We left packets of chocolate chip cookies under the signs for those kids to discover.

"This is it, my friends. Next Tuesday we'll do our technical rehearsal in the auditorium. Now, you must remember this: Anthony and Pablo will be running lights and sound and having their first rehearsal. It's called a cue-to-cue rehearsal so that they can practice when to hit the right buttons and so on. This means no fooling around from the actors. Give these fellas your respect."

Pablo and Anthony had their initial crack at running lights and sound in the previous year, for "Romeo and Juliet." They are both ten-year-olds.

I didn't know I would have a children's tech crew. Last year, when I asked for help at a booster club meeting, one dad said, "I can give you a morning to set it up; just have your tech crew ready and it should take no time."

Tech crew? I had two nine-year-olds.

Never underestimate. That dad gave us a morning and those boys rose to the occasion. Next year I can only hope to find a couple more whiz kids.

Rachel and I handed out snacks to the group and watched them munch.

"Good job on the run-through, you guys. It's going to be really, really great."

"Ahhh, I'm so scared!" Beth called out.

"Who else is nervous about doing the play?" I asked.

The arms flew up.

"Good. Very, very good. You should be nervous. I would be nervous if you weren't. It means you care. It's a sign that you want to be great. You're ready. All you have to do is look at each other and talk to each other like real people. You will be fine. will have best time in your whole life. That's a promise. See you next week."

"Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Nathan?"

"Do you mean that we get to be outta school for that tech thing...that rehearsal thing?"

"Yes, I will come and get you all out of class for our technical rehearsal."

Screams. Raise-the-roof screams. They're so easy.

Rachel and I did our final clean-up, gathered our belongings and I switched off the lights in Room 39.

It can be a jarring thing for everyone, I thought. Here we go.

As Viola I live with my brother. I also have my dad and mom who both work as captins. The name of the ship my mom worked on is The Carrier because it delivered stuff from overseas. The name of my dads ship is Sea Dragon because it was a submerene. That what made me and my brother more involed in over-sea stuff.
Polly, 5th grade

Friday, December 4, 2009

Recess: Stuff Happens

Ask any theatre actor about mishaps and you might as well curl up with a drink because you'll be entertained for hours listening to the anecdotes.

When an actor forgets a line on stage we call it drying or going up. I have an actor friend who, when he dries doing a Shakespeare play, can make up a whole new speech, on the spot, in iambic verse. I've been onstage with him and have seen it happen first-hand. He speaks utter nonsense but it's mesmerizing to watch.

I was in a production of the Arthur Miller classic "The Crucible" when an actor "went up." In an important courtroom scene, prosecutors accuse young women of being witches and list witchy behavior like flying, dancing, fainting, and such.

What can happen to any actor is that the words inexplicably disappear into the rafters. Such was the case when in this play, which takes place in the 17th century, an actor suddenly began to accuse the witches of skiing, ice skating and singing (he seemed locked into S words). Those of us gathered in the courtroom bit our tongues to contain giggles. Were those witches weightlifting as well? Perhaps barbecuing hot dogs or playing croquet?

The audience didn't pick up on these crazy improvisations because, above all, the actor was completely confident in his delivery.

In other words: Say anything, but mean it and you'll be fine.