Friday, March 5, 2010

The Anti-Curse

February, 2010

The buzz started with emails and then phone calls: "Have you heard? Guess who's back...come on, guess!"

Last year one of our Shakespeare Club stars was a young boy who played Malvolio in "Twelfth Night." This boy was born to act and grabbed center stage with bravado and spirit. A few weeks before our performance, his mom was struck terribly ill. This boy and his little brother were relocated to live with grandparents in a far-off part of the county as mom healed. He and I said good-bye without ever expecting to see each other again.

This boy's name is Henry.

Ah world, thank you.

Missives arrived with the news that Henry was moving back to the neighborhood and back into our school. His arrival landed on the tail of Conrad's departure. Conrad had been cast as King Duncan. As I toyed with reshuffling my cast, the miracle of Henry solved my problem.

I slipped into Henry's fourth-grade classroom and caught his eye. He leapt up, beaming like the sun. I crooked my finger, at the same time asking his teacher if I could have a moment with him. Henry ran to the door. We met up outside.

"I can't believe it," I squealed. "You're back and in the nick of time...I need a King Duncan."

"Ms. Ryane! I's so, so perfect because here I am and I wanted to be in Shakespeare Club and now here I am!"

Of course, when I initially heard he was rejoining the school, I thought it far too late for Henry to be included as an actor. The play was cast and the club was full. I decided I would ask him to be our sound operator. Then Conrad got cold feet and...

"Henry, sometimes the universe just makes everything right...sometimes. How are you, anyway?"

"I'm great, Ms. Ryane! I'm so happy and also Oliver is playing Macbeth and that is so, so cool!"

This is typical of Henry. All the upheaval and scariness the child has been through has rolled off him. He's a cup-half-full kind of guy. Actually, he's a forget-the-cup-and-fill-a-barrel kind of guy.

"So, you know Oliver?"

"Yes! I met Oliver in second, who are you? I like you! And Oliver and I are best friends! He's Macbeth!"

"Yes, and you will be King Duncan. That means you and Oliver will be best friends offstage — but enemies onstage, because he kills you."

"Whoa! That's so neat!"

Oliver and Henry

Almost everything that comes out of Henry's mouth is accessorized with an exclamation mark. He doesn't even know the story of "Macbeth" but he's thrilled at the casting of his friend.

"Henry, I'm so glad to see you. I'm so grateful this has worked out. Like I say, sometimes the world is amazing."

"Yes, Ms. Ryane, the world is amazing!"

"See you on Wednesday, Henry."


I want to be in Shakespeare clube because, I wanted to see what it is like. I want to be on the good lisse. I hated to learn about Shakespeares' life. I like Shakespeare clube.

What I learnd about is that in the old days you had to throw poo out your windows. I learnd that willaen shakespeares dad made gloves. When someone got sick, the police mens had to pin the doors donw.
—Natalie, 4th grade

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