Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Henry helps set up.

"Welcome, Shakespeare Club of 2011," I said, addressing the twenty-four children lined up before me in our auditorium.

Twenty-four. I reminisced that six years ago I was flummoxed by a mere thirteen in this same auditorium. Six years ago, those kids raced in and out of the bathrooms and hid under seats and behind the red stage curtains. They crawled, tripped and screamed as I stood in the cavernous middle, blinking like an alien dropped in from a planet known as YOU AND YOUR BIG IDEAS.

I was way out of my league and the principal at the time quickly diagnosed the problem as too much space for a fledgling teacher. We were sent to a small classroom and bit by bit I got my bearings.

Now, with twenty actors and four crew members, I needed the room of the auditorium as much as I was ready to handle it.


The Shakespeare Club has earned its legacy at this school, and that plays nicely into my hands as I set high bars for these children. The littlest students have seen the waters bubbling from the fountain of empowerment and they want to drink from it.

It is not me, it is not about me and it never has been. They see fellow children on fire onstage and they want that experience. My role has always been that of facilitator. I am the conduit to their empowerment.

It is that legacy, as much as my experience, that has twenty-four children lined up, focused and ready for The Shakespeare Club and this year's play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"The Shakespeare Club is not for everyone," I tell them on this first gathering. "Some of you might find that after one or two meetings it's not exactly what you had in mind. That's okay by me. All you have to do is say, 'Ms. Ryane, may we have a private talk?' and we'll sort it out because I have a long list of kids on a waiting list. Okay?"

I like that twenty-four sets of eyes follow me back and forth as I speak. It's a sign, an indication that they're ready and eager. One mom told me her daughter had been crossing the days off her calendar for weeks in anticipation of this day.

Me too. They look good. It all looks promising. Best year ever.

My goal this year is too do better in the timing the sound because last year a couple times I either pressed a button to early or to late. Today I learned that William Shakespeare was born April 23 1564.
Mariah, 4th grade

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