Monday, May 3, 2010

The Good Witch: Eleanor



March, 2010

There are four women's roles in "Macbeth." Her ladyship and three witches. I have fourteen actresses in the club this year. What to do? Of course, girls will play boys' roles but when they're not, I've decided some will unite into what I'm calling the Witches' Chorus.


I bought three-foot pieces of doweling at the hardware store. The props crew is hard at work decorating these sticks, which the witches will use to bang out their predictions to Lord Macbeth and Banquo. The props crew is also making each witch a necklace of fabric remnants, tiny plastic cups and pieces of string. Along with these strands, the witches will wear "bling" in the form of Mardi Gras beads. They should make an interesting coven if they can learn their lines and work together as an actual chorus.

Rachel corralled our ten witches into another classroom to practice Double, double, toil and trouble while I rehearsed with a restless group of Scottish lords. When the girls returned, I was eager to see what they'd accomplished.

"Okay, ladies, let's hear it."

When should we all meet again?
In thunder, lightning or in rain?
When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.


They kept half an eye on their leader, Rachel, and another close on their cohort, Eleanor. A fourth-grader of unusual smarts and confidence, Eleanor is the younger sister of Alice, who played Olivia in our "Twelfth Night." Alice is now in middle school and because last year was her final chance to participate in Shakespeare Club, I allowed her the opportunity of not having her younger sister in the club as well. It's a tricky business, the sibling factor. I avoid it if I can simply because caretaking is often such a daily chore for an older child that I like to give them a break.

Eleanor patiently waited her turn and now she was leading the Witches' Chorus in perfect iambic rhythm. Eleanor stood tall, pounded her stick into the floor and by the second rehearsal knew all of her lines.

When I goofed up on a character's text, it was Eleanor's arm that shot up. "Ms. Ryane, if you turn the page, Lady Macbeth has more."

"Righty-right, Eleanor, good eye. Thank you so much, I forgot that part."

Eleanor is the personification of accountable. Rachel counts on her, I count on her, her fellow actors count on her and her teacher counts on her.

I worry sometimes that we burden her too much but I can also see that Eleanor takes pride in stepping up. She is quick with answers and ideas. She helps the other witches and asks for more duties from me.

"Ms. Ryane, can I help hand out snacks?"

"Ms. Ryane, do you need help cleaning up?"

Eleanor is a lesson in how to make the most of a moment and she's showing us all how to string those moments together into a life necklace of sparkling jewels. I can picture Eleanor growing into a graceful and accomplished young woman.

In the meantime, we're all leaning on her to prop this play up.

"Oh Eleanor, where were we? I've lost my marbles, to quote Lady Macbeth."


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
If I was a Elizabethan women I would get up take a bubble bath eat pancakes and drink sider. I would get dressed in a pritie short sleeved dress with a jacket. I would ride my peach horse star down to the Roses or Globe to see a play.
—Eleanor, 4th grade

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