Friday, July 16, 2010

Filling the Big Shoes



For two years of Shakespeare Club performances, Anthony was our lighting operator. After fifth grade he had to move on to middle school and his younger brother, Calvin, asked if he could now be our lighting operator.

"Sure, Calvin, that'd be great. Here's how it'll go: Later in the year...like when the cast is ready to do run-throughs, I'll have you come to rehearsals along with our sound operator. You will have your own script and become familiar with the story."

"Okay, Ms. Ryane."

Then for months, every time I stepped into Calvin's fourth grade classroom or saw him on the field, he'd run up.

"Um, Ms. Ryane, um...now should I come to Shakespeare Club?"

"Not quite yet, Calvin, but soon."

A couple more weeks would go by and I'd be wondering myself if the cast would ever be capable of a run-through, let alone a performance.

"Hey, Ms. Ryane."

"Hey, Calvin."

"Today should I come to Shakespeare Club?"

Calvin wears his hair in a buzz cut and he's a skinny, smallish nine-year-old. He squinted his eyes up at me, all serious, with these queries.

"Pretty soon. I won't forget, Calvin, I promise."


One day at lunch break I caught up with him on the field.

"Hey, Calvin!"

He zoomed over.

"Today's the day. Instead of going to regular afterschool you'll come to Shakespeare Club and see a run-through. Good?"

"Okay!"

I'd typed out lighting and sound cues, cut them up and pasted them into the appropriate scripts. I set chairs up front for Calvin and for a third-grader, Mariah, who would run our sound cues. The twosome sat between Rachel and Celia, our stage manager.

"Okay, cast, today you have your first audience. Let's welcome our sound and lighting departments to rehearsal."

The kids clapped and the run-through started.

At the end, I gave notes, Celia gave notes and Rachel gave notes.

We formed our good-bye circle.

"Arms high." They raised their arms. "That was a pretty good run. Let's seal in our good work and see you next week." We gave one solid group clap and they flew off to the rest of their lives.

A few stragglers helped clean up the room and I noticed Calvin standing alone.

"Calvin, what did you think?"

He was still and quite pale.

"Are you okay, Calvin?"

"Ms. Ryane...I don't think I could do it. Anthony could do it but I don't know...."

I kneeled down to look into Calvin's worried face.

"The reason Anthony could do it, Calvin, is because he was trained to do the lights. We had an adult teach him how to do it and that's what will happen for you too. You don't have to know this already. Ms. Rachel will be there to help and you will have proper training, I promise. You don't have to worry about this, Calvin. You're going to be fine."

"Yeah...."

Calvin had big shoes to fill and we all had to help him grow his feet over the next few weeks.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
My big brother Anthony punched my back for no reason. So I wanted revenge. My dad disided to go to his friends house. When we got there my big brother Anthony was going to swing but I told him my dad has a suprise for him. When he left I losined the swing. When he came back he said I was lying. So when he was going on the swing he sat on it and broke. He fell on his butt. I was proud because I got my revenge.
—Calvin, 4th grade


"Broken Swing" by MarsW

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