Monday, June 28, 2010

Character Study

"These are some of the first questions an actor asks: 'Who am I?' 'What do I want?' and 'What am I willing to do to get what I want?' "

"Oh, Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Garth?"

"I was thinking if Macbeth was a comedy play wouldn't it be funny if when I was being Banquo's, wouldn't it be really funny if I was like eating an apple?"

"Yeah, that would be hilarious."

Garth opens his script, chuckling to himself. He shoots a look to his best friend Oliver, searching for confirmation that this would be a knee-slapping bit, if only....

"One of the ways an actor can help himself with his character is to write a biography. In your journals I want you to write about your character. Where you live, what you eat, who your friends are, who your enemies are and who you are loyal to....Get the picture? You can make stuff up because William Shakespeare doesn't give you all the answers to these questions."

"But, Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Darby?"

"I'm Narrator Two."

"Right. Okay, the narrators can pick a character they would play if they weren't narrators. And witches who have other parts can write about your witch character or your other part."

I notice Celia sitting to my right, in her stage manager chair, trying to get my attention.

"Yes, Celia?"

"The movies," she whispers in her little voice.

"Oh, righty-right. Okay, who borrowed movies last week and returned them for others?"

Mary races for her backpack and hands me my DVD copy of "Hamlet."

"What did you think of 'Hamlet,' Mary?"

"I liked it. I liked the fights."

"Yup, pretty good fights in this one. Who remembers where Hamlet lives?"

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

"Where does Hamlet live?" I repeat the question.

"Oh! Oh, I know." Mark has his arm pointing straight to the ceiling, meaning he really, really knows where Hamlet lives.

"Yes, Mark?"

"In my backpack?"

"Um, no. You're confusing Hamlet with your script. Your script lives in your backpack."

"I know!" Oliver shouts.

"Okay, Oliver."

"Well, someplace cold 'cause you said the soldiers on the castle roof were cold."

"Denmark. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark and that's a cold place in winter."

"I liked the ghost," Mary offers.

"Okay, journals out and pencils ready."

"Ms. Ryane? Can I share?"

"Geez, Dominick, you have to write first and then I'll put your name up. Everyone ready? Go!"

When we started the year I could easily remember the one or two who wanted to share their writing. Now I had to keep a list on the board of those who wanted to read and add a stand-by list if we had extra time.

"Is there anyone other than Dominick who wants to share today?"

And there it was: the long lost arm of our Holdout.

"Chloe, bravo. Your name goes up first. Good girl."

CHILDREN'S WRITES: Journal Entries
I live in a small palace.
I'm friends with Malcom.
I eat meat and a few vedgetables.
I believe Macbeth killed King Duncan.
I want revenge because Macbeth killed my famaliy.
I'll kill Macbeth for killing my famaliy.
I'm afraid that when King Malcom will make me an outcast.
I'm afraid of Macbeth.
I'm loyal to Scotland.
I'm loyal to Malcom.
I am lord Macduff and I like to have breakfast with my famaliy. I have a new born daughter named Elizabith. My favorite mead is Firebreath and my friends are Malcom, Donalbain, and King Duncan. My wife Lady Macduff had a new baby. I don't like to fight in wars and its anoying that my parnter Lenox is allways taking braks.
—Dominick, 4th grade

Hi, my name is Lady Macbeth. I want to tell you about my life. I eat cooked sheep and goat. Where I live in Scotland in a castle because I am the queen of Scotland. My frineds are Lady Mucduff and the three wiches.
Amaya, 5th grade

I am Lady Macduff. I live in a big, golden palace, in Scotland. I don't have any friends. I belive my husband won't come back. I'm afraid I'm going to die. I'm afraid of Macbeth.
Millie, 3rd grade

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