Friday, March 12, 2010

Those Pesky Rules


Way back in Year Two of The Shakespeare Club we had a fifth-grade member named Emily. She played Polonius in our "Hamlet." Emily was an eager participant. She asked intelligent questions about Hamlet's motives. She was curious to know what an "arras" was since she would be stabbed to death by Hamlet on the other side of such a thing.

Emily was a lively, funny and super-bright kid. She only had one year with the club but left an imprint that stays with us year after year.

At our first meeting, I introduce the kids to the club rules and mottos.


They understand listening to the director. Some wrestle to find courage. So far, I haven't detected whining. The most difficult rule to abide is: "Never tells another actor what to do."

These are little kids, so I get that struggle. However, I've never been in a single rehearsal hall or on a single film set where the concept is entirely disregarded by adult professionals. Quite often in the guise of "Oh, that's how you're going to do that?" or "Just my two cents but I was wondering if she could..." or "I can't do this if he does that...."

In our club, the kids catch each other breaking that rule and then tell each other so. It's a never-ending circle but at least they understand that there is a rule.


Then we learn the mottos and this is where Emily's legacy takes hold.

The children start with: "We are The Shakespeare Club!" then voice the list of mottos, ending with:

"If I can do Shakespeare, I can do anything!"


When Emily first shouted it out, she crooked her elbow and gave a "gosh, darn" gesture along with stomping her foot. It was corny and perfect. The kids and I thought it was a riot and it stuck. Every year a couple of seasoned members will pass along the routine and it has become a favorite moment.

Emily moved to another neighborhood and I never saw her again after the "Hamlet" season. I like to think she would be pleased to know that every time an actor swipes his arm across his chest and yells out that line, I think of her and her funny Polonius peeping out from behind the arras.

CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
I want to be in shakespeare club because I want to do plays. I want to be a real Actor, I know shakespeare club will be fun, I love part when it says If I can do shakespeare I can do anything!

Today in shakespeare I leard what a real Actor does. I leard what the shakespeare club mottos are. Also what leard in shakespeare is A real Actor never whines.
—Wendy, 3rd grade

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