Friday, July 8, 2011


"I promise I will not let you go onstage unready or looking like an idiot."

I hold up my hand as if in a courtroom and face twenty sets of skeptical eyes.

"Do you believe me?"

Clearly not, since no one answers.

"Okay, you all give my promise some thought and we'll rehearse as if what I'm saying is true."

Ms. Ryane?

"Yes, Ellie?"

Ellie has had a growth spurt in the last year that makes me think of time-lapse photography. Her blonde hair tumbles over her shoulders, her legs are long and she's picked up a sassy teenage shoulder shrug from, I suppose, her older sister. Alice, who was in Shakespeare Club for three years, is now in middle school but appears ready for a life on the Riviera.

What happens if an actor doesn't show up on the day we do the play?

"You know, Ellie, that's never, ever happened and I don't think it will this year either."

Ms. Ryane?

"Yes, Ellie?"

What happens if an actor forgets their lines?

"Well, we have Bridget here as our narrator and prompter, so no worries there."

What if the audience doesn't laugh?

"They'll laugh, I'm certain of that. But if they don't, we just keep going because it's a good story, right?"


"Okay, let's take a look at Hermia and Lysander's first scene. Henry and Bailey, up on your feet."

And all of a sudden these kids, who think they're as sophisticated as college students, show their true colors. Henry and Bailey turn toward each other and play the scene with scripts held high, covering their faces. All we can see are skinny arms and legs springing out of lean torsos.

How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.

The course of true love never did run smooth.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
And she respects me as her only son.
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues,
There gentle Hermia, may I marry thee.
Steal forth tomorrow night and in the wood
Will I stay for thee.

My good Lysander!

Masked by their scripts, the scene was unintentionally funny and I had to bite my tongue both to hide my amusement and to keep from nagging these two to drop the scripts and play the scene to each other.

It was a question of trust. I was asking them to trust me and I had to trust the process. I had to believe at some point in our journey their actor selves would replace their shy, creeped-out boy/girl selves and do the right thing.

Because the course of elementary school never did run smooth.

The reason why I auditioned again this year is because I love acting. When I'm older I want to be a actor or director.

Dear Anne,

I think you are a beautiful young woman. You are prettyer than the moon, with eyes that shin like stars.

William Shakespeare
—Dominick, 5th grade

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