Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tandi: Bolts in Place

Apprenticeship in the theatre sometimes meant being surrounded by actors who seemed to think being a great performer required being a great drug addict or a great connoisseur of alcohol. There are far too many examples of bad behavior leading to stratospheric success.

Fortunately, a few good acting teachers taught us one doesn't have to be a drug addict to play one. That good health is necessary to play Hamlet nine times a week.

This brings me to one little girl: Tandi.

Tandi was a member of the Plot People this year. She's nine years old and will enter fourth grade in September. Tandi has her head screwed on right but is neither dull nor humorless nor lacking in creativity.

Tandi is the kind of person who takes it all in. She observes. She comments when she has something to say. She is not shy but neither does she grapple for attention.

It was Tandi who used her Goldfish crackers to spell out the travails of the lovers in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It was Tandi who shared the terrible loss of her hamster when he died. And it was Tandi who purposefully read the male roles when we studied the play.

Sometimes I would worry Tandi might be bored, restless or confused by our work. When she twisted this way or that in her seat. When she rested her face in the palm of her hand.

"You okay, Tandi?" I'd ask.

Yup, she'd nod and I believed her. She was taking it in.

"Like another orange, Tandi?"

Yes, please.

This is Tandi. Ask her a direct question and she'll give you a direct answer.

Does one have to be dramatic to hold a career that demands drama? I think not.

Is it a requirement to hog attention in order to have attention? I doubt it.

Tandi's the kind of girl who will make someone a very good best friend. Tandi will be the kind of woman others look to for answers. Tandi is accountable...and I think that's a rare gem.

How I would take care of myself in the forest is that I would pack up some snacks and some supplies I need to live in the forest. I would bring some covers to sleep on the floor. I would bring alot of water. I would bring everything I have.
—Calvin, 5th grade

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