Monday, April 12, 2010

Tick Tock



She should have died hereafter.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time—
Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act V, Scene V

March, 2010

Whisper this speech aloud and slowly. Again. And again. And once more.

"Do you hear it, Oliver? Do you hear the ticking of the clock? Tick tock, tick tock?"

"Yeah, I kinda hear it, Ms. Ryane."

"Macbeth has just been told that his wife is dead. He doesn't have his best friend Banquo anymore because..."

"Yeah, because I had him killed."

"Mmmm. It seems that what Macbeth hears is a ticking clock with lots of time to be all alone."

"Yeah." Oliver whispers and looks at the words on the page.

Oliver, at the end of this speech you say the tale is told by an idiot and that it signifies nothing. Who are you talking about? Who's the idiot?"

"Me."

"Yeah. It strikes me that you got everything you wanted and now have nothing. I wonder how Macbeth feels?"

"Bad. Pretty sad, I guess."

"Yeah, I would guess very depressed."

Oliver launches in for another go at it. I can hear the clock, a heavy clock endlessly beating...tick tock, tick tock.

Oliver will turn ten years old April 21. That's the day we will celebrate Shakespeare's birthday with a party. And we will celebrate Oliver, who marks a big beside his speeches with the word: LEARNED.

At the beginning of the year, when we explored the Elizabethan period and I showed the kids pictures of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and described where the rich folks sat and where the groundlings, or poor folks, stood, Oliver studied the photos. I showed them drawings of groundlings with fruit stuffed into their pockets, ready to toss at the actors if the story was boring or the acting was crummy.

"Oh, Ms. Ryane!" Oliver waved at me from his seat.

"Yes, Oliver?"

"Maybe those groundlings brought a banana and then an actor slipped on it and maybe that's when they invented comedy!"

Maybe that's exactly what happened.

Meanwhile I have a boy who can act one of Shakespeare's more famous speeches with the heaviness of a bewildered and sad man. How and where does a nine-year-old find this?

This is the mystery. It's signifying something, but its origins in Oliver are a mystery. This is the magic of theatre.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
If I got to find out about my future I would like to know if I did one thing bad.

List
If I made All-stars
If I do go in school
What kind of job would I have
When will I die
Would I have kids

Nails of a rat, toe of a goose, leather of a softball, and leaves of an oak tree.

Potion: to make the best softball ever made
—Faith, 5th grade

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