Friday, May 28, 2010

The Holdout: Chloe



Chloe was the last member of the club chosen this year. I was on the fence about her. I'd been told she was extremely shy. When she auditioned, it was near impossible for her to look directly at me. She let the words of her audition piece drip out of her mouth and we both looked to the floor as if they might be laying there in a jumbled heap.

In the end, I accepted Chloe because her mom told me her daughter was eager to be in the Shakespeare Club and, though I wouldn't use the word "eager" to describe what I witnessed, she seemed worth the chance.

Chloe is a tiny girl, but feisty. Through the year I watched her on the playground running, laughing and chatting to friends. But when I said hello she looked away and let her friends respond with "Hi, Ms. Ryane."

When we warm up outside with yoga, Chloe stands still, unmoving, as the others strike Warrior One. When we meditate, Chloe slouches and keeps her eyes wide open as others close theirs and sit up straight. My final clue this wasn't actually a shyness problem was the day the group discussed how to play a king.

"When an actor is cast as the King or Queen, they often wonder 'How do I do that?' I mean, an actor is an actor, not a king in real life...so how do we do that?"

"You could yell!"

"You could be bossy!"

"You could cut off someone's head!"

"Well, I guess we could do those things, but here's the truth: It's the easiest part to play, for a couple of reasons. One, it says right in the program that Henry is King Duncan. Two, he's wearing a crown. Three, when people speak to him, they kneel. See? Easy. Henry, sit on the throne and we'll practice."

One by one each actor came to Henry to beg for something like more money, more food or more jewels, and one by one they knelt in front of Henry. All...except you know who.

Chloe simply would not kneel and I saw that Chloe's deal had little to do with shyness and much more to do with her vantage point on authority. Chloe is a holdout. Chloe ain't looking, ain't stretching, ain't closing her eyes, ain't using a big voice and certainly ain't kneeling in front of nobody. And I got it. Chloe is a rebel, and with a similar vein running through me, I could identify.

Problem: one of her roles in the play is [servant].

"Chloe, do you want to make Honor Roll in the Shakespeare Club? I mean, is that even important to you?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, I'm going to give you some big clues how to get there. If it's really important to you, that is."

"Okay." Still won't look at me.

"If you find some courage and share from your journal — because you really are a good writer — and if you kneel and speak to King Macbeth in your biggest voice, you'll probably get those two extra s you need to make Honor Roll."

Chloe looked across the field at kids kicking balls and chasing each other. I could see her ruminating on my proposition.

"If I share from my journal and if I have a big voice, I'll get on Honor Roll?"

"And if you kneel to the King."

She gave a quick nod and returned to a game of tetherball.

Seed planted. Rebel with a cause. We'll see.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
My Future

Will I be rich?
Will I have a very fast car?
Would I have lots of clothes and shoes?
Will I have lots of pets?
Would be flying buildings and cars?
What would I look like when I....

Potion

Everything from a barbie, barbie clothes, tons of pink clothes and shoes, hair to and a pretty face to, skinny jeans to.

Potion: making a girl
—Chloe, 4th grade

1 comment:

  1. You know, Mel, you do a pretty spectacular and life-altering job for someone who isn't a "real" teacher. I honor you.
    Love, Linda

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