Monday, November 29, 2010

An Interview: Lizzie

mel: Well hello, why don't you tell us your name, your grade and what parts you played?

lizzie: My name is Lizzie and I'm in fourth grade and I played the doctor and the witches' chorus.

And how many years have you done Shakespeare Club?


What do you like about Shakespeare Club?

I like how we get to act and stuff. Really fun...and like knowing more about William Shakespeare.

What do you think you learned about yourself, Lizzie, in Shakespeare Club?

[Lizzie takes a long time to answer. She licks her lips. She thinks] I learned that I could act better than last year. And I learned that I could have courage.

And what do you think you want to be when you grow up?

An actor.

What do you like about being onstage? Isn't it scary?

No. What I like about being onstage is that I don't really get scared because sometimes what I think about is only one person being out there and watching and then I don't get scared.

How did you feel when it was all over?

Sad. I was sad when it was all over because I wanted to act in more shows.

How does it feel being famous?

Fun. It's fun getting all the attention.

What did you like best about it?

Rehearsal and doing the shows.

I think beening in Shakespeare changed me. Yes, I did make my goal. All the things at the beginning of the year I wrote came true. I found lots of courage. And yes I recommend Shakespeare for many other people after this year.

I will miss Mrs. Ryane and Mrs. Rachel. I will miss the insult game, the complement game and the movies. I'll also miss my new family. I am going to 6th grade and there is a really good chance there isn't going to be a Shakespeare Club. My life had changed from beening in Shakespeare for 2 yrs.

I will visit and come to the plays.
Faith, 5th grade

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Interview: Mark

mel: Why don't you tell us who you are, your grade and what part you played.

mark: I'm ten and my name is Mark and I'm in fourth grade and I played Malcolm in "Macbeth."

Mark, why did you want to be in Shakespeare Club?

Because the last two years I was in props and I could see that Shakespeare Club was a lot of fun and people had fun and they had fans and that's why I wanted to try out.

What did you think of performing?

I almost felt like a rock star. Like I got up in the auditorium and I thought the kids would say hi and that's what exactly what happened.

And how did that make you feel?

Good. It made me feel excited and made me want to do it next year.

Was there anything being in Shakespeare Club that surprised you or that you learned?

Um, mostly'm the only one who can control my body and nobody else can control me and I can't control other people.

You learned that in Shakespeare Club?


Tell me about Malcolm. What's his story?

Malcolm, he wants to be King. He wants to be King like his father told him to because he was born into it but his father died but Malcolm flees to England and Macduff accuses him and Donalbain of killing his father.

What did you like about Malcolm?

[wide grin] He gets to become King.

Was there anything about Malcolm that reminds you of you in real life?

Um...yeah. Because my dad is the man of the house and I'm behind him 'cause I'm the oldest.

Dominick, Henry and Mark.

What advice would give another kid who was thinking of auditioning for Shakespeare Club?

I would say go for it, give it a try....It might work out.

And what things bothered you about Shakespeare Club? Anything give you a problem?

Um...nothing really.

Anything you could suggest to make it better?

Um....just pay attention and focus on the acting and you'll be all right.

If I had adventure in my life I would go to the grand canyon. I would climb on the highest cliff. When I get on the top of rock and take pictures. When I am done I will jump off the cliff and hope that I land on a boat. If the water was infested with sharks I would have my knifes ready to kill the sharks. I would jump off the boat and stab the sharks. The boat was only two miles per our. Finally reached a little cage. I was useful when I wanted to turn skinny so I could get threw wholes.
—Mark, 4th grade

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



As the late sun sets and evening comes upon me
I imagine your faces and wonder at your hearts' desire.
Some of you will dine on roasted meats
Jest with kin and frolic under leaves,
While others will sup on memory
And weep for those absent in a home.
To all of you I say, remember that you were great.
You harbored power in puffed chests, strutted in cardboard crowns
And in bold timbres voiced rhyme and nuance
Far beyond your years but worthy enough
To melt in your small mouths like holiday sweets.
Don't forget I was there,
I saw and am
Forever grateful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Interview: Phoebe

mel: Let's start with you telling me your name, your age and what part you played.

phoebe: My name is Phoebe, I am ten, almost eleven....My birthday is in October and I played Lady Macbeth.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor, Phoebe? last year that came up to my mind.

What do you think you learned about yourself in Shakespeare Club?

That I don't have to be shy in front of an audience. And like, when you have lines, you don't only have to memorize them...well, you have to memorize them...but you don't just read[she bounces up and down in her seat]...well, you have to actually mean what you say.

What did you think about Lady Macbeth, as a character?

I think she's very mischievous, she gets into a lot of stuff that is, like, not so great. She doesn't have a lot of good advice.

What do you think the audience should think of "Macbeth"?

That he shouldn't be following what I'm saying.

What do you think the audience should learn about their own lives in seeing "Macbeth"?

[Phoebe crosses her arms and has a good long think] That you can't always do something bad to get what you want 'cause at the end it might end up being, like, terrible. Like me, I died just because of my hands. [holds her hands face-up and looks at them] To me it was a big thing but to others it might be like, whatever. Like she has blood on her hands, whatever.

What would you say to other kids who aren't sure about auditioning for Shakespeare Club? Kids who might say, "Oh Phoebe, I don't know..."?

Well, it's fun 'cause you, like, you do writing about, you can just free-write but she gives you something to write about. And I would say it's fun being onstage.

And how did you feel when it was over?

I feel great. Like, oh my God, I achieved my goal. [big smile]

What was your goal?

To be an actor and to do a play.

Tell me about yourself. You came to this country speaking only Creole and now you're speaking big, fat Shakespearean English.

Okay, well, like, I was born in Haiti. Natalie kinda lived with me but didn't exactly. There were two separate houses. I lived on the bottom part and she lived on the top. There were stairs to go up to her house. Her mom and dad died at some point. Then she came to live with us. And our aunt was going to take us to an orphanage. But when we got there, we didn't say anything, we just sat there. All the girls sleep in a room and all boys sleep in a room and a nanny sleeps in the room.

In 2005 my parents in Illinois wanted to see how I was and how I looked like. So they came and they brought me a doll. I loved that doll. But one day Natalie got jealous and threw the doll and I was crying to death. But Natalie was laughing. When they took me, they took me to a hotel. I was talking to them in Creole but they didn't know anything I was saying. After that I went swimming but I didn't know how to swim, really. I could doggie-paddle, that was all.

And then when I was six and a half they took me home but when I was at the airport I did not know anything that was going on. It was freaky when I landed in Illinois. I saw all these people and I thought, "Where am I?" And they brought me some clothes and stuff. Then I met my brothers and my sister and my aunts and uncles and I met my grandparents. My brother was, I think, seven and another one who was five and one who was two and my sister but she was only like half a year old.

And then like my mom opened my hair but she didn't know how to put it back, so I, like, braided it myself. [she illustrates by fingering her hair] I put it in a fancy style, I don't know how. It was in zigzag cornrows [giggles] but now I don't know how to do that. And then like I stayed in Illinois for two years but I was missing Natalie and I told my mom that.

Well she asked me what was wrong 'cause I was getting in a lot of trouble. She said I could visit her in the summer and I spoke a little Creole still but not that much. I came back and she asked me how it was and would I like to live there. And I said that it was difficult but then I said yes and I was almost nine.

What was that like leaving Illinois and coming to a new family in Los Angeles?

I brought Celia and Natalie and Mariah these puppy-shaped purses and I gave them and then we started playing with them but I don't know how we got used to each other but I was fine with it.

And all four of you were in Shakespeare Club this year.

[Phoebe laughs and nods her head] This was funny: I think it was on Sunday and I was having cereal and I asked Celia to pass me, well, the milk and I forgot and said, "Could you pass me that white stuff?" And our dad said, "You're in Shakespeare and you don't know what that white stuff is?"

I want to have a life of adventure. I would like to go on many different adventures. Some day I will want to go and sleep in a forest next to a tiger. I would want that because I fined tigers interesting. At night I would poke it with a stick. The tiger will make so much nosie a cheata will come and eat the tiger. I would be watching this whole scene. I want to go to Eypt and see a primad. I want to go in one. I would love to study about it. It have exactly 600 steps, and after we have 200 more steps to go on.
—Phoebe, 4th grade

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Interview: Mary

mel: And you are?

mary: My name is Mary, I'm in third grade and I played Lord Ross in "Macbeth."

Why did you want to be in Shakespeare Club?

Because I love to perform and I love to go in front of audiences.

How old were you when you discovered that about yourself?

Five or six.

How did you find out?

Well,, in kindergarten I did a play for the rest of the class and I had a lot of fun so I wanted to do it more.

What do you like about it?

It's's just fun to feel like you're a famous person and you go back to class and everyone's like, 'Oh, it's Mary!' "

Did anything surprise you about being in Shakespeare Club?

Yeah, I didn't know it was going to be this fun, it was really fun. I just love performing and I love Shakespeare....Shakespeare is awesome.

What was your favorite thing about Performance Day?

My favorite performance was dress rehearsal because I got to perform in front of my class.

Now, I understand you're moving away.

Well yeah, I'm not moving houses but moving schools to this school nearby....It's a Christian school.

And how do you feel about that?

I'm kinda excited but I kinda want to stay here because I love Shakespeare.

Well, you have to start one there.


I loved Shakespeare club because....

I go to be an actrice, I felt accepted by my class and the school, I got to see what it is like living a long, long time ago, and I got to perform.

I think the second graders should do Shakespeare because I did not think I would like it, but at the end of the year I liked it sooo much.

I will miss all my friends, I will miss performing, I will doing Macbeth and the cool light and sound. I will miss Ms. Ryane and Ms. Rachel. I will miss many many things, but most of all I will miss having fun in Shakespeare Club.
—Mary, 3rd grade

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping It Fresh

Professional actors argue the merits of stage work versus film work. For my money, the former is a greater thrill because the actor wields a power denied on a film set.

In the theatre, no one is going to call "Cut!" Once that curtain has gone up there's no stopping a theatre actor unless, of course, a gunshot rings out and the President is suddenly dead.

In film the real power is in the hands of the director, cinematographer and editor. These three can shape, shoot and cut a performance to their liking.

The actor's benefit in film work is the afforded intimacy. What a luxury to speak softly or simply think one's way through a performance.

An excellent example is in the Kenneth Branagh-directed film of "Much Ado About Nothing." Branagh played Benedict to Emma Thompson's Beatrice and the twosome was able to whisper their quibbles in a manner impossible in the theatre without body microphones.

However, the power of a stage actor carries a price. Working in front of a live audience requires a trained voice, a healthy body and the ability to keep a performance fresh over weeks, months and sometimes years, as in the case of a successful Broadway show.

Keeping it fresh is a hard discipline. The ability to hear words as if for the first time and to react as if for the first time is a tricky business.

I've coached child actors on film sets, and when there are multiple takes for a series of angles the boredom can set in darn fast.

"Why do we have to do that again?"

The mournful plea of a small actor meant I would have to find an answer that made sense while steering them away from the craft service table laden with sweets.

By the time the Shakespeare Club actors were at their third performance, I could see a few were not only tired, but already working by rote.

"So, here's the thing to keep in mind," I said to the gathered group. "An actor has to always, always remember that someone in every audience is seeing a play for the very first time, and if we don't give them our best they may never, never come back."

They listened and they did give it their all, but were stymied by another reality.

The three o'clock performance was attended by some family members and also by a large group of after-school children, who had already seen the show earlier in the day.


No other way to put it.

All reasonable audience conduct disappeared and the gang of mop-tops gave a pretty good example of Elizabethan groundling-type behavior. They seemed to think, away from their teachers and in the hands of after-school personnel, they were free to shout at the actors and chat to each other in loud voices.


I felt terrible for the kids onstage, but they didn't stop. Oh no, they carried on with their work and any boredom on their parts disappeared as they fought to keep the show intact.


No other way to put it.

I want revenge when I always get in trouble and it someone else fault. And also when I have to risist the names that they call me in class.
Amaya, 5th grade

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Interview: Oliver

mel: Okie dokie, why don't you give us your introduction?

oliver: My name is Oliver. I'm in fourth grade and I played the role of Macbeth in [pause] in a Shakespeare play.

Oliver, what do you think is important about acting?

Acting is important because it's kinda's kinda like traveling to a different dimension. Like you're in this place where you're not actually there but you feel and think and smell like you're actually there.

Like where in that dimension? Tell me about that dimension.

Like when I'm thinking about Macbeth I think about, me being in Scotland with kinda like just like buildings but not like modern buildings but like cottages, like, that's what I think in my mind.

And what do you think audiences should get from "Macbeth"?

I think what audiences should get about "Macbeth" is don't do bad things and kill people because it'll turn out that you'll be killed yourself or sent to jail.

And tell me about Macbeth's state of being at the end of the play.

Macbeth's state of being is kind of him being him like he regrets killing all those people like Banquo....Like, let's say Lady Macbeth died and Banquo was still alive and he didn't know about him killing King Duncan....Like, they would still be friends, but then Macbeth would still feel sorry for himself because basically the queen shouldn't have died if Macbeth didn't really kill the king because Lady Macbeth was thought to have died because of all the pressures she had because of killing the king and she had a whole lotta nightmares.

Tell me a bit about your life, the Oliver story.

I like a lot of things. My life is, like,, I started collecting these Nerf guns. I've been studying really hard, like learning the capitals 'cause my teacher says we can't pass fourth grade until we know the capitals, which is kinda hard for me 'cause I already know the southern and northern capitals...yeah....But life is pretty good...but [pause] my family is kinda like under tough struggles, like hard times.

How do you feel about that?

I kinda feel like sorry but at the same time I have to kinda adjust to it. Like let's say my family lost a car, I'm going to have to adjust to walking to the bus stop or to walking to wherever I need to go, like to the store, or like...yeah.

What do you think your role is in your family? What's Oliver's job?

Well, I think my job is just to stay in school and get, like, higher grades and move on and become, like, an adult and go to college. I think my role is pretty much like a role model cause there's like a lotta toddlers in my family right now cause my family is, like, really growing rapidly. 'Cause I think I'm supposed to be a role model 'cause I have a lotta cousins between the age of three and basically eight. Like, I kinda tutor my cousin and give him advice.

So, how does it feel being a superstar on campus?

Well, it's kinda like the little kids say, "What's up Macbeth?" or "Oh hi, Macbeth." It kinda feels good but also kind of annoying. Like let's say my sister (she's six) walks up and says to her friends, "My brother was Macbeth!" It kind of feels like she's spreading fame from me and trying to make herself feel popular.

What was your favorite thing about the whole performance day?

Well, I like the performance itself because I really like being in front of people but at the same time when I left I felt really bad about myself for some reason.

How so?

I was sad, like, when I went home with Garth and I hopped in his car and we were halfway to his house where we were having a sleepover and I was thinking about all the good moments we had in Shakespeare Club...[sighs and looks to his lap]...yeah....I kinda felt sorry for myself for some reason. [his nose gets stuffy] But like my mom said you can try out again next year and I kinda still felt bad because I didn't want Shakespeare Club to be over because inside...I just want to live to be an actor. I'm going to miss it a lot over the summer.

What I will miss about Shakespeare Club is the performance, friends, and the love of the play. I will miss the good times of Shakespeare Club. I will miss Ms. Ryane and Ms. Rachel. I will miss everybody who is leaving espeacaly Garth. I might move to Atlanta, Gorgia. William Shakespeare your cool. And you write some rocking plays.
—Oliver, 4th grade

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Interview: Dominick

mel: Can you tell us your grade and what part you played, please?

dominick: I'm in fourth grade. I played Lord Macduff in "Macbeth" and in the end I had to, uh...slay the king and crown the prince.

And tell me why thought you wanted to audition for Shakespeare Club?

Um...the reason that I wanted to audition for Shakespeare Club is because, uh...I want to be an actor when I grow up so I thought to myself if I got into Shakespeare Club it could be the first step to becoming an actor.

How old do you think you were when you realized you wanted to be an actor?

Uh, I realized I wanted to be an actor when I was three years old.

How did you know that when you were so little?

I don't know because, um...I was so playful back then....I did some acting stuff, like I fell and I stubbed my toe and I just said I was playing around and my mom said I should be an actor and that's when I got the idea.

What do you think you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that I'm a good actor and I also learned that I should try out for Shakespeare Club again next year and that's it's really cool being an actor and performing.

Did anything surprise you about yourself this year?

I didn't realize before that I had a good loud voice and that I was a good actor. And I didn't realize that I was a good hero.

And is there any way you think you'll be different in your life after playing Lord Macduff?

Lord Macduff is sort of innocent...brave...uh...uh...heroic, and I think I could be that in real life.

And what was your favorite thing about the performance day?

My favorite things about Thursday were that I got to perform four times, I got to see some old friends and I had a fabulous dinner.

Remember at the beginning of Shakespeare Club how sometimes you would hide under your hoodie or just check out? I think you made some real leaps in the club because it seemed all of a sudden you were able to meditate, your yoga and vocal warm-ups got better....What do you think happened?

I think getting more sleep...rehearsing my lines more and thinking if I was in Shakespeare Club it would get my grades up.

How would it help your grades?

Um...teaching me discipline in class, and focus. And learning about Shakespeare. I didn't know little kids could learn Shakespeare's big words in one year.

What do you think about Shakespeare as man, and his life and his talent?

His talent was writing good plays. His life was...uh...tons of ups and one down.

What was the down?

His one down was when he lost his son in a river.

Anything you want to tell me about your life in general? You've had a Shakespeare kind of life, filled with drama...anything you want to tell me about that?

My life is uh...sort of complicated....I've been around the country. I was in tons of foster homes in other states. Um, I was in a foster home in Albany, New York, and another in Carson City, Nevada, and one in Sacramento and another one in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What do you remember about those experiences?

One is really in my mind in Washington...Olympia....uh...I was with these foster people for at least a year and I was only one years old when that happened. One time they went out for dinner...the mother and father...and the two twin sisters stayed home and took care of me. I remember my crib being this high. I remember climbing out and falling down the stairs on my butt and I remember my foster sister picking me up and taking me back to the crib. I remember when we went to the swimming pool because they lived in this apartment and I remember being in one of those floaties and just floating around the pool. And I remember first meeting my new parents.

And how do you feel about your life now?

I think my life now is a lot different than the life I had as a baby. I don't move around a lot. I only go on vacations to Paris, New York and uh...Arizona and Florida.

You've had huge life. You've come so far. I think you're amazing. You not only found out you could be an actor but you helped the other kids become more focused and disciplined...[at this point I went on a long ramble about how terrific Dominick was, how he'd grown and advanced and discovered his potential. He waited patiently for me to finish and then said:]

I also need to tell you that I found my script.

Dominick (Macduff) and Oliver (Macbeth).

Adventure mean that you are going somewhere far far away from here and you will not come for a day or 2 but you can always get a lot of food and water so you can servive and a tent to sleep in and you can take your family too you can take your family so you won’t be alon and if you see a bear just stand still
Wendy, 3rd grade

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dressing the Part: Charly

During Halloween our school holds a costume parade. The littlest five-year-olds march side by side with their older counterparts. Clowns and mad scientists. Gypsies and princesses. Hair colors in vibrant purples and greens promise a good parental scrub when the day ends.

It's a sweet, festive and candy-laden day. For many. But not for all.

There are aspects to the holiday I find sad.

The stoicism of an uncostumed girl when she attempts to throw herself into the "fun" along with her dressed-up classmates.

The solo kid that shows up at our door with a meek "trick or treat" as his parents wait on the sidewalk. Why isn't he racing up and down the sidewalk with a pack of buddies?

Or a mom, wine glass in hand, escorting her boy and berating him for "whining."

I started my volunteering experience six years ago as a reading mentor. This was before I had conjured up an idea called The Shakespeare Club. This was just me and a little-boy first grader meeting once a week in the school library.

Charly spoke both Spanish and English but struggled with reading. We started out with "Hop on Pop" and "Clifford the Big Red Dog." We had a routine where he would read for a bit and, when he tired, tapped my hand so I could take over and read to him.

I gave Charly journals to draw pictures of the stories we read and eventually, as he advanced in school, he wrote reviews of the books to go along with the drawings.

I spent five years with Charly and he never had a costume on Halloween. I guessed his parents may not have had the money to buy Charly an outfit. Turns out I was right and wrong.

There are children across this country living in neighborhoods deemed too dangerous for trick-or-treating. Communities where it's simply safer inside and the idea of knocking on strangers' doors willy-nilly would be unwise at best.

Charly was bused to our school. He lived with his family in an apartment where any celebrating would be kept inside. By fifth grade he did come to the Halloween costume parade with streaks of blue in his hair and I made a big fuss about how cool and appropriate it looked because Charly and his dad were Dodgers fans.

It's the acts of children as solo artists that I find moving. The kids on the edge who look in. The kids who walk alone.

When I wanted love was when I was eight. I loved frogs. I asked my mom to get me one and she did. I loved her at that moment.
Phoebe, 4th grade

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Interview: Millie

mel: Hi, who are ya?

millie: I'm Millie and I played Lady Macduff in "Macbeth" and I'm in third grade.

Why did you think you wanted to audition for Shakespeare Club?

Because I really like acting and I want to be an actor when I grow up.

What do you think an actor's job is?

An actor's job is to, um, act out and play and do what their supposed to do onstage.

How did you feel about being in Shakespeare Club this year? Tell me your impressions of it.

I feel really special because not a lot of people get to go in Shakespeare Club.

What do you think you learned about yourself being in Shakespeare Club?

I think I learned that like, like, any kid can be an actor.

Did anything about Shakespeare Club surprise you about you?

I think I surprised myself that I could be a real actor.

Were you scared ever?

I was scared a little when I was going to get onstage in front of my friends but then I just said, I'm going to calm down and pretend they're not even there.

Do you any tips on how to make Shakespeare Club better?

[looks off into the distance] I think, I don't think I have any.

So, what's the Millie story at school? How has this changed your profile at school, if it has at all? Like what do you find tough at school? What do you like or not like so much?

I don't like how everyone keeps saying, "Dominick's your husband" but I got over that pretty quick.

And why would they say that?

Just because I was onstage pretending to be his wife.

Has being in Shakespeare Club changed things for you at school at all?

It changed things at school 'cause like all the kids who are in kindergarten or something go, "Hey, look it's the girl who was in that play, she's really cool."

How does that make you feel?

It makes me feel really proud.

When I was 8 m y cousin called she told my sister about a knew singer Justin Bebier. So my sister got on the computer and reascearched Justin Bebier. He had his own website so she looked at the top for songs. There was pictures, interviews, albums, and songs. She clicked on songs and we spent an hour listening to one of his songs. One time I could not stop listening. For four days in a row I could not stop listening to his songs. I cut out pictures from magazines. I would get posters, of him. I would draw pictures, print sone lyrics. I loved it when I saw his pictures and I loved his albums. My world and my world 2.0 I love his songs Enie Menie, One time, and Baby.
Ellie, 4th grade

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Interview: Page

mel: Okay, why don't you give us your name and age.

page: My name is Page and I'm in third grade and I played a witch.

Page, why did you want to audition for Shakespeare Club?

Because I never did it and I wanted to see what it was like and it was fun.

What was fun about it?

I just like acting a lot and I like, I like...I like learning lines and stuff like that.

And what did you learn about you, Page, by being in the club?

Um, I learned that,'s like bad luck when you say good luck to another actor and I... [looks across schoolyard] um....I don't know.

Was there anything that surprised you that you didn't think you could do before or discovered about yourself?

I...I...thought I'd be really scared on the stage but I actually wasn't. I liked being onstage because it's fun when people watch you do stuff.

What would you say to another kid who's thinking about auditioning for Shakespeare Club?

I would say, "You should try out and if you don't get it, you should keep on trying."

And what about all the boring parts that you have to wait through until it's your turn to be onstage?

I just calmed down and took deep breaths...took deep breaths.

What was your favorite part of the performance day?

Being onstage.

I want to read about a book with a lot of adventures. One adventure I would want is that there is someone could make a time machine. A letter of mine:

Dear friend,

You wont believe it I went in the future. My mom looks gray like she is going to die. You are about 30 years old. You have a husband name Markis you have 3 kids. I got to meet my self in the future. I had 3 kids like you and I have a husband. I have a two story house. I met my sisters. Sad news is my dad died. My kids are very interesting. My sister Natalie had 6 kids. Phoebe had 2 kids. Mariah had to kids. And in the future everyone had pets with gooey bodies.
Celia, 4th grade

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Performance Number Two

Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success.
Oscar Wilde

After their lunch break, the actors raced back to the auditorium high on a power surge of mac and cheese and one performance of "Macbeth."

"Circle," I called out to the troops and they gathered into a ring below the stage.

"Sound and lighting operators too," and we made spaces to include the crew.

"Shhh, shhh, shhh, eyes closed. Hands on belly and big breath."

One might assume this would have been easier at this point in the day, but not so. These were children vibrating in a galaxy of stardom. They jiggled, buzzed and gasped shallow breaths, not the deep ones I tried to encourage.

What else should I have expected? These kids had been bombarded by fellow students in the last forty-five minutes. Classmates that had seen a performance filled with music, colored stage lights, golden crowns and flashing swords. Instant superstars were in our midst.

The one o'clock show has a tradition of a question-and-answer forum after the performance. As I readied the actors and crew, I knew their grand self-confidence would swell even more as they met fans head-on.

They took their places onstage and I opened the auditorium doors to teachers leading streams of children in to take their seats.

Oliver, as Macbeth, delivered a heartbreakingly clear portrayal. Adults reminded themselves this was a ten-year-old boy acting the role. I had show-business friends in attendance who claimed they finally understood the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..." speech.

Phoebe, as Lady Macbeth, followed Oliver's lead. I watched her as I might a small bird, perched on the edge of a nest, about to take flight. Phoebe embellished the character with saucy frustration, using her big voice.

Garth's Banquo was etched in dismay as he contemplated the inflated ego of his best friend, Macbeth, and the murderous acts taking place on Scottish soil. The witches were witchier, the murderers more murderous and the entire play took on the resonance of a living, breathing organism.

Garth (Banquo) and Oliver (Macbeth).

At the end of the show I addressed the audience and asked if they had questions for the actors. I walked around the auditorium with a microphone and the actors passed their own around onstage.

Young kids, empowered with a microphone and answering queries after rapturous applause, is a sight to behold. Chests puffed in authority and voices deepened into a kind of pretend adulthood. Sweet and so very right.

As it happened, many of the skinny arms flying up from the audience with questions were attached to younger siblings of the stars onstage.

"Yes, you have a question?" I asked a young girl leaning toward the microphone with eyes stuck on Oliver.

"I like Oliver!"

"Oh, I think we might have Oliver's little sister here, am I right?"

Nods, up and down and up and down. Her eyes never left the stage.

"I know King Duncan!" came from a small kindergarten fellow.

"Well, I think we might have Henry's brother here, is that right?"

Nods, up and down and up and down. His eyes never left the stage.

"Anyone else have a question?" I asked.

"Yes, why does Macbeth kill those people?"

"His wife Lady Macbeth, told him he could be king if he killed me, King Duncan. And so he did it!" Henry answered.

I stood back and marveled at the exchanges between actors and audience and siblings. This was success. Children onstage empowered and children offstage witnessing power from people not much taller than them.


Imaginary Love

Ever sience I was little I wanted to fly, and I thought if rain puddles looked like hearts it meant my wish came true. When my sister was born I told her, and she still belives it. But I think she is starting not to belive it.
Mary, 3rd grade