Friday, March 25, 2011

Going Crazy



I am not a scientist. Really not. And never could have been because I have math skills that would make a five-year-old laugh.

But I can tell when something scientific is happening, and in my six years of running The Shakespeare Club, I'm witnessing a first.

A couple of fifth-grade boys and few fifth-grade girls are exhibiting the sort of crazy that looks positively hormonal.

"I feel weird!" claimed Oliver after reading a chunk of text opposite a girl.

As we were cleaning up, I grabbed Oliver's hand and led him to an area at the back of the auditorium.

"Oliver, what do you mean, weird?"

He shuffled and looked at the floor.

"It's private."

"Okay, that's fine, but just tell me this: weird bad or weird good?"

"Good."

"Get outta here."

I knew right then I was into new territory with Oliver and with Dominick.

How fitting that we're working on "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a play about overheated teenagers running around in a forest, never sure who they're in love with, but in love nonetheless.

Except these kids aren't teenagers. They're still supposed to be little kids shrouded in innocence.

I'm not a scientist and I don't know why this happening, but it surely is.

These kids are showing signs of aggression, getting crushes and acting absent-minded. They're saying "yes" but meaning "no," saying they've cleaned up a mess when they didn't, and saying that they did do their homework while having no idea what the homework is. They're as crazy as doped-up adolescents running wild on flower juice in an Athenian grove.

The boys will be bad and the girls will cry when the boys are bad. The boys will spout terms like "badass" and make fun of the girls and sculpt plasticine into boobs, and the girls will cry more and I will be the one to go crazy.

It's called midsummer madness and Shakespeare knew what the heck he was writing about. What to do? What to say? What will they hear or not?

The most compelling reason for my not being a scientist is that I don't wear that kind of logic; it is simply not in me.

The most compelling reason for my doing Shakespeare with kids is that I remember it. I vividly recall that craziness, and the medicine may well be giving them gigantic language on a big stage, to scare the willies right out of them.

At the very least they may be distracted by their actorly greatness, and leave the opposite sex alone.

I hope.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
If I was a groundling and I knew a play was coming I would root some apples. When the big day came I would throw apples at them for no reason. I would also throw stones at them.

If I was King, I would wear the most fairest clothes in al the land. I would hire the best tailor to tailor all my clothes for me. Also, I would have a Palace as far as the eyes can see. I would eat the freshest growen berrys, fruits in the land to make sure I don't end up as fat as Henry the VIII. I would no be all greedy. I would give some of my food to the poor people. I will rule the wourld with a Iron fist.
—Oliver, 5th grade

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