Monday, December 27, 2010

All Aboard: Performance Number Four

Over my years as an actor, writer and director, I've had to learn there is a point where the work is done. The point of standing back, letting go and imagining a future project.

I'm married to a film editor and am reminded of a common phrase from his angle: Films are never finished, just abandoned.

By the time six o'clock rolled around on May 27, 2010, I was toast and ready to just stand back and watch. No more notes.

"But why, Ms. Ryane? You mean really, no notes?"

"That's a good thing, Ellie. It's all yours now; this is your final performance. Go for it."

"But where are you going?"

"I'll be at the back watching and glowing. Believe me, there'll be lots of glowing because I'm so proud of you all."

I attempted to erase the mood of abandonment creeping around the stage, where the kids battled jittery nerves for the final big show. I recognized the feeling. It also happens with adult actors when the director steps away and releases the kite string.

Mariah (sound operator) and Celia (stage manager).

I pulled a chair up to the table at the rear of the auditorium, where our stage manager ruled over her light and sound operators. I relaxed, waited and beamed as cues were called and a powerful blast of music gripped the audience's attention.

My dream of the actors being heard happened because of the microphones placed in three spots on the stage floor. After four unheard years of hard work, I was thrilled as the kids' words ricocheted and filled the space in this, our fifth year.

The actors swelled in confident performances. All of the lines were remembered and when they spoke they meant what they said or demanded or railed on.

I think of Performance Day as a celebration of The Shakespeare Club. In other words, it's not for the shows that we work hard, it's for the exploration of Shakespeare's world, work and genius. It's the journey of young people finding power in their voices and imaginations.

The day they tell the story publicly is the triumph of all they have discovered over our five months together in a classroom every Wednesday afternoon.

Well done, I thought as I watched them. Well, well done.

This is my first year in Shakespear club. My favorite part of Shakespear club was at our 3:00 show is when my mom and dad bring a friend and her son, who is two and in the bigging when there was music, he was not paying attention then people came on stage and started talking, Then my moms friends son went to play with my brother then came and listened to the play. Then my least favorite part was at 4:30 on Wensday when we have to leave.

I will miss Mrs. Rachel, Mrs. Ryan, the fifth graders, some of the people moving away, studying lines 24/7, being in room 42 on Wensdays. I will miss acting, I will also miss being on stage on May 27, and I will miss our family.
—Ellie, 4th grade

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