Monday, February 15, 2010

The Match Is Lit

Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep!
Macbeth Act II, Scene II

January, 2010

"If she says no, I will beg and beg her!" Conrad said as we strode across the quad for a visit with his teacher, Mr. Chavez.

This was the day before our first day and already trouble brewed. It's clear in the applications for The Shakespeare Club that all participants must have a ride home. This disqualifies some kids if they are "bused students." I was just informed by Conrad that he's a "buser."

"Hello, Mr. C," I said, popping my head into the room and addressing him as his students do. "Is it true that Conrad takes the bus home and, if so, do you have any idea what his mom was planning since he's in the Shakespeare Club?"

Well, Mr. C didn't know what mom had in mind. Conrad popped up and down beside me, his face worried and scrunched up.

"Really, I could just beg some more." Conrad formed a plan like a good little actor.

"We'll figure this out, Conrad. Don't worry."

I said this with confidence but inside I was unsure how to solve the problem. I wanted Conrad in the club in part because I only have five boys, but really because he was so eager and I couldn't imagine telling him no. Good chance I'd be the one crying and begging.

Conrad, at eight years old, is the eldest child of four in a family held together by a single parent. Dad is not around. When I called his home, it was obvious Conrad's mom was caring but also overwhelmed. I offered to drive him home myself but she figured a neighbor, also with a child in the club, could maybe get Conrad home.

The next day, I stood outside Room 42 and waited for The Shakespeare Club of 2010 to show up. Lucinda, our stage manager, left class early to help me arrange the room into a horseshoe of chairs. She clutched a list of members and stood beside me. "Lucinda, that list is the order for the group when they stand outside and then sit down inside. It's your job to tell them where to be."

"Okay, Ms. Ryane."

I beamed as my comrade, Rachel, loped across the grounds. Yup, she's back. We gave each other hugs, I introduced Lucinda and in the background glimpsed excited kids running to us.

"Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Bettina."

"I can't do yoga."

"Why's that?"

"Because of my religion."

"Interesting. What is your religion, may I ask, Bettina?"

"Christianity."

"Okay, well I promise you we aren't doing anything religious in Shakespeare Club. Just think of it as stretching. Actors need strong, flexible bodies. Okay?"

"Okay."

Another first.


It's also clearly stated in the acceptance letters: Members must attend all meetings.

Day One and Mark is missing. I found out later that his mother, knowing how excited Mark was about the club, kept him away as punishment for classroom misbehavior.

Fires. I'm already putting out fires and we've only arrived at the forest.

"Hi, Conrad," I winked.

"Hi, Ms. Ryane," he answered with a sly smile.

"Later, how about writing a thank-you note to Wendy's mom for driving you home? She's making this happen and I know we're both grateful."

"Okay, Ms. Ryane."

"Welcome, Shakespeare Club and congratulations, you made the cut. Big breath, let's stretch up and say, 'Hello, sun!' Exhale and hands to your heart. Inhale, 'Hello, sun, nice to see you' and exhale as we fly like eagles off the cliff...."

If this is religion, I'm prayin'.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
I want to be in shakespeare club, because, I love acting and want to be an actor when I grow up. I also want to be in shakespeare because it is a very intresting and amazing thing to me. Every year at Walgrove is may when we see the play.

I learned william shakespear was a baby prodigy when he was born. I learned Williams dad was a glover and williams girlfriend name was anne halthaway.
—Ellie, 4th grade

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