Monday, April 26, 2010

All Girls: Mary and Page

March, 2010

"Well, Ms. Ryane, maybe what happened was that the people who went to William Shakespeare's know, like those people...maybe they didn't want to see so many boys dressed up like girls and so maybe that's why he didn't make so many girls' parts," Page offers.

"Hmmm, you may be right," I answer.

"And that's why Page and me have to be Lords, like Ross and Lennox, because Shakespeare Club has so many girls, right?" Mary adds.

"That's correct, and that's irony."

These two third-graders are sitting with me on a bench in the schoolyard. Quite often as I cross the campus on my way to prepare Room 42, I hear, "Ms. Ryane, Ms. Ryane!" and quite often it's an opportunity for a gab session about Shakespeare and the play and "what will we eat on the day of the play?"

"Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Page?"

"Will we have to wear wigs?" Page pats her long golden locks as she asks this.

"Mmmm, no wigs. Actually, back then men had long hair just like yours. You could pull it into a ponytail if you like, but you won't need a wig."

In her early journal entries, Page wrote of wanting to get over her shyness. A lot of girls write about the plague of shyness but Page has blossomed like an English rose under the watchful eye of the Bard. She plays a witch in the Witches' Chorus, and Lord Lennox. She was one of the first to be off-book and she uses a great big voice.

Mary does not suffer from shyness. Mary has confidence and bravado by the bucketful. She reminds me of Luis in our "Twelfth Night" last year. After a particularly tricky rehearsal where the cast has to repeatedly hide and reveal Banquo’s ghost, I had a Luis-type chit-chat with Mary.

"Mary, are you aware of your special gift?"

"No. What does that mean, anyway?"

"You have a unique talent. You have a natural ability to bring people joy by...what, do you think?"

She kept her eyes glued to mine and shrugged.

"You know exactly what I'm talkin' about, sister. You have a funny bone. You can make people laugh."

Mary shot me a wide grin.

"Here’s the problem: 'Macbeth' is a...what?"


"Right. It's low on jokes. So, we have to make a deal. If you can hold it together this year in the drama and audition well next year for the’ll get a payoff. Think you can do it?"

"Sure!" she said and then did a little backwards moonwalk like she does every time in rehearsal when I say, "Okay, let’s go back to the top and try again."

"Well, I gotta go. See ya later, alligators!" I sang.

Mary and Page raced off to climb the outdoor apparatus. Upside down, hanging by their knees, they swung like the stars they are.

My best friend is Page. She helps me and I help her. When we get mad or hurt each other. My responsibility to be a best friend is when my best friend gets sad or hurt I help them.
—Mary, 3rd grade

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