Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kickin' It

The Shakespeare Club performed "A Midsummer Night's Dream" four times on May 26, 2011.

Each performance ran about thirty minutes, including Bollywood-style dances. It was a challenging and exhausting experience, but no one would have traded a minute of it for a nap.

Dominick, a fifth-grader in his last year at our school, played Oberon, King of the Fairies. After a year of myriad classroom struggles, fear of failing as an actor and wrestling with an upcoming family move to another city, Dominick managed to pull a bunny out of a bonnet and rally with terrific performances...until three o'clock.

Throughout the day, the kids were permitted to help themselves to snacks I'd laid out on a table. Fruits, water and protein-type bars. I say type because who the hell knows what's really in those things. I can pretty much guarantee sugar is the glue.

Dominick cannot have sugar. He knows that. I know that. His classroom attendant knows that...and yet....

He stuffed his pockets with those bars and then wolfed them any chance he could get.

For our third performance, I sat out front with my notepad. I started to scribble notes, then my pen froze as I watched Dominick dive into freefall. He lost his lines. This had never happened in his two years of Shakespeare Club.

"Line!" Dominick called. "Line, line...LINE!"

Poor Bridget, our eight-year-old narrator who also (in rehearsals) acted as prompter, jumped up, ran her eyes up and down her script and searched for where Dominick's line was....

I sucked in air. My private rule had to stick: Never go up there. Never get them out of a pickle. This is learning in action.

Oh, but I wanted to help the kid...so much....

Bridget found the cue and called it out to Dominick. He spat those words out, flailed his arms, swung around and kicked the fairy fabric on the floor. Kicked at it, swore at it and then collapsed in his chair upstage.

He got it together for his next entrance and finished the show well.

Afterward I sent the other kids off to wash their hands for dinner and grabbed a moment with Dominick.

"So, here's the good news: You came back, you didn't give up. This happens to all actors and you learned a good lesson today. Do you know why that happened to you?"

"No, Ms. Ryane." He studied his shoes and shook his head.

"Sure you do. What's the one thing you absolutely cannot eat, especially before you go onstage? The one thing you want so much but cannot have?"

"Oh yeah."

"So, now you really know and you'll never forget. I'm proud of you, Dominick, but don't ever kick the props again 'cause it throws the other actors off and it lets the audience know you're in trouble. They didn't really know until that point."

" 'Kay."


" 'Kay."

"Now go join the others. You'll have a great last show if you eat the delicious food and the yummy fruit but not the poison....Never the poison, Dominick."

"Yeah. Thanks, Ms. Ryane."

My goal for shakespeer club was to meat new people. I leared that people are really nice once you get to meat them. I have to say I was a little embarrest of my part at first but I felt much more comfortible when I got to know people more. I am sad to see the 5th graders go. I am sad sad sad that I can't do shakespeer club next year! bye Ms. Ryane...!
—Dominick, 5th Grade

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