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

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