Monday, May 23, 2011

Losing the Audience

Know your audience. I love that phrase.

If I pontificated to the children of Shakespeare Club on the gross national product of our country, I'd receive glassy stares and bodies would drip out of chairs like melting Popsicles.

In a previous post, I told the story of Peter and his natural flair for comedy. The boy's talent had him adored by many of the girls in the club...until the day Peter forgot his audience.

I had asked the kids to describe in their journals a life of peace or purpose or adventure.

Peter chose adventure, and once he'd penned his vision, he asked to read it aloud to the group.

Peter's version of an adventurous life seemed yanked from the journals of Ernest Hemingway or John Huston, combined with Davy Crockett and a splash of 007. In Peter's world, running the rapids, cutting through dense jungle with a machete and battling wild beasts would be de rigeur.

If I had a life of adventur I would jump from roof top to top and I would sky dive every day, wrestl aligators, make armor out of crocadiles skin, and make alot of coon skin hat's out of racoons and also make wepons out of bear claws, dear antlers, and rino horns. That is how I would live the life of adventur.

Peter, fine actor he is, threw himself into his reading with vigor and pride. When he finished, he dropped his journal to his side and waited, good actor he is, for approbation.

A solemn silence reigned. The girls in the club registered puzzlement, cocking their heads as if to say, Our Peter? Our funny, adorable Peter? Our Francis Flute?

The girls' confusion dissolved into quiet dismay, until brave Ellie voiced what they were all thinking.

You would kill animals?

Peter's glow transitioned to bewilderment. He cast a look over his audience. Yup, his audience had turned on him and the surefire response he'd counted on did not come. Peter had miscalculated. He'd forgotten that girls hold animals dear, that ninety-nine percent of girls wish to become veterinarians, and that they would throw themselves in front of oncoming arrows to save Bambi.

One day, far off in his future, when Peter gets a crush and asks a girl on a date, he'll remember this day. And on another day, when he's camping with his buddies and they gather under the stars ready to let loose their testosterone-fueled fantasies...he'll have found his audience.

If thee had thy life with adventure, thy would build anything thy like. Thy would invent for thee a flying car, thy everyone would love it. All of thy inventions would be popular, but not thy ahead of Shakespeare.
—Vincent, 5th grade

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