Friday, June 10, 2011


"It's the part I wanted, Ms. Ryane....It's the part I hoped for!"

Directors rarely hear this from actors. Actors don't make the best judges of how they should be cast. It's notable when it works out and delight reigns.

"What is it you like about Puck, Sabrina?"

"I like that Puck is kind of a trickster and mischievous. I like that Puck can be magical and be invisible."

"What do you think Puck wants most in life?"

Sabrina tips her head to the side. Her long sandy hair drips over her skinny shoulders and she leaks a Puckish grin.

"Puck wants to be the best fairy for Oberon."

"I think you're right about that. Puck does like to play tricks, and so does Oberon, and Puck is what we call 'a pleaser.' "

As Shakespeare Club neared its production day, Sabrina was the only actor who approached me for some private rehearsal time.

"Sure, Sabrina, I'll talk to your teacher and you and I can have some time together."

Sabrina's fourth-grade teacher was happy to release her from an afternoon schedule. Her teacher admired Sabrina as a student and as a generous young girl.

Sabrina had already experienced Shakespeare, on a grand scale, when earlier in the year the Royal Shakespeare Company rolled through town with their production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." They needed child extras; Sabrina auditioned and was chosen. She offered some of her paycheck to help fund the fourth-grade class field trip to Sacramento this year.

"Sabrina, what did you learn from being in that show?"

"Well, I really noticed backstage, like in the dressing rooms, how quiet everyone was. And they did a warm-up and were serious and so when we do yoga in Shakespeare Club I know why."

"And what is it that has you concerned about playing Puck?"

"I just don't I'm strong enough in some of my lines."

"Okay, let's get to work."

I read Oberon across from Sabrina's Puck. I urged her to scoot downstage to match Oberon toe-to-toe, to avoid upstaging her fairy king. I found the places where she felt uncomfortable and helped her find the playful aspects of herself to bring to her Puck.

"You are Puckalicious," I told her. "You already have delight and fun in you....Not much acting required."

Sabrina chewed her lip and smiled.

"And you have one of the biggest moments in the play with your final speech to the audience....You close the show and you will be great. Believe me?"

"Okay," Sabrina answered.

Brave. Brave to ask for help. Brave to stand center stage and deliver.

I see friendship as caring for one another and when one hurts the other one helps. That is what I think friendship is like.

I am not my character because I am not a fairy. But I love helping people just like helping Oberon.
—Sabrina, 4th grade

"Merry Wives" photo by Gary Friedman/LA Times

1 comment:

  1. Where do you find the excellent pictures and clip art you sprinkle through these pages?


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