Friday, April 23, 2010

Going Private: Garth



March, 2010

In the early years of The Shakespeare Club, when I wanted to work privately with a young actor, I'd arrange an afterschool meeting in the library and sit and wait and wait and pace. Most times no one would show up.

Over the years, I've gained some credibility with the teachers and am now able to call a student out of class to work with me during the school day. I cherish these private sessions. They are opportunities to learn about the child, to plant seeds of courage. Together we study a character's motives, learn lines or sort out relationship conflicts in the club.


And because I will always wrestle with classroom chaos, it is a relief to work only one-on-one. Also, there are a few things a kid likes more than focused "just me" attention.

When I show up randomly at a classroom door, faces light up and they point to themselves, whispering, "Me? Me?"

On the day Garth and I jaunted over to the library, the boy fairly hopped and skipped beside me.

"I've been waiting and waiting for this!" he gushed.

"Really? You do seem pretty excited."

"I've been wondering and wondering what this would be like...you know...just you and me! I've been so wondering."

Garth's breaths came in short bursts and I was wondering myself how to fulfill his hopes. Our time in the library would hardly be a trip to Disneyland.

"Well, now you'll find out, Garth. Here we go," and I ushered him into the room.

Garth is playing Banquo. The character ends up dead at the hands of his best friend, Macbeth. I've heard that Garth gathers Mark (Malcolm) and Oliver (Macbeth) together on lunch breaks to pore over their scripts. In part because of Garth's urging, these boys are all off-book.

We sat across from each other, scripts open, and I asked if he had any thoughts or questions about the play.

"Well that Lady Macbeth, she's so evil. It's all her fault," Garth declared, shaking his head.

"Mmmm. Well, yes, she has a lot to do with it, but let's face it, Garth, Macbeth goes along with the plan. He does make that choice, right?"

"No, but she convinces him, she makes him kill King Duncan."

"Hmmm. So, Garth, I noticed down on Venice Boulevard there's a really cool game store. Like they have Wii games and all kinds of other stuff. They have so much in there. I was thinking, how about you and I go there and I'll talk to the guy and you just take a couple of those games? You could just stick them in your jacket and they wouldn't even miss them 'cause they have so many. Wanna?"

He pulled far away from me in his chair.

"Nooo, Ms. Ryane, no way...nooooo!"

"See, Macbeth could have said that but he didn't."

Garth pondered this.

"Yeah, but still she's nasty bad. I think she made him."

Mother issues?

"Well, Garth, I don't think anyone could make you do something you didn't think was right, and that's a good thing. Let's go over your scenes."

"Sure, Ms. Ryane. I like this."

Me too.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
Elizabethan Man I will live in a small house. And I will ware breaches. And a shirt. I will eat lots of sweat bread and fish. I will fill happy goying to school but it wouldn't be cool getting a wip at the bottom at school.
—Garth, 4th grade

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