Monday, March 21, 2011

Laughing Matters


Slippage happens. It is a hazard of teaching. One glance away, one runny nose, one sneaky swipe of my lip gloss, and there's no predicting the fallout.

For our third meeting, the Shakespeare Club was moved to the school library because the charter school attached to our campus had taken over the auditorium.

When I arrived at our auditorium to set up, I was greeted by what appeared to be a rehearsal for a production of "Oklahoma." Bales of hay were scattered around the floor and onstage they surrounded a quaint rocking chair.

It was disturbing enough to be usurped in this fashion, but worse, I had to scuttle to the library, rearrange my curriculum and prepare a new game plan for this confined area. I whipped together ideas as I dragged tables and chairs into a unified layout.

Okay. We'll use our lack of space to start a read-through of the play. No dancing or yoga.

I set journals, pencils and scripts at specific spots on the tables. By our third meeting, I'd already figured out potential cliques or possible enemies, and wanted to make sure certain kids were separated.

I met the twenty-four outside the library and had them file inside to sit where they found their journals.

I stood on a chair in order to conduct the meeting with some authority.

Slippage happens.

As I introduced Shakespeare's characters, "Puck" came out of my mouth starting with an "F."

Mayhem.

This is what can happen when former sailors become teachers.

I tried to ignore my error, but it was impossible. The kids covered their faces and pressed their foreheads into the tabletops in fits of rolling, gut-splitting laughter.

My cheeks flushed. This was how quickly I lost them. Gone, gone and I had zero defense.

When Titania awakes and tells Oberon, "Methought I was enamored of an ass," I thought the roof would come right off the building.

A nine-year-old girl, Bailey, jumped up and down, calling to her fellow actors, "It means donkey."

They paid her as much heed as they did me and that word, ass, ricocheted off the library walls like bullets bouncing off tin.

Thank you, William Shakespeare. Thank you, charter school. And a final word of gratitude to my way-too-colorful years treading the boards, where the language was rarely highbrow Elizabethan English.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
I want to be in Shakespear club because I love acting and I want to be an actor when I grow up. I also want to be in Shakespear because it is very interesting and amazing thing to me.

Dear William,

I love you so mutch and I can not stop thinking about you. This morning I used my cherrios to spell I LOVE WILLIAM. I took it and counted all of the cherrios there 77 and I know that is your lucky number. Love you see tomorrow at noon.

Love, Anne
Ellie, 5th grade

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