Friday, January 13, 2012

An Interview: Carina

carina: Um, my name is Carina and I'm in third grade and I played Tom Snout and in the play within the play I played the Wall.

mel: Why did you audition for Shakespeare Club, Carina?

I auditioned because I like to act and perform in front of audiences.

What surprised you about Shakespeare Club?

You didn't think we would do that?

Yeah...'cause I knew that yoga would help sometimes when you perform onstage but I never thought that you would do it.

Do you think it's important....Do you think we should do it at all?

Um...yeah, I think we should do it because it helps you be calm before we act helps me learn my helps me think of them in my head when I do yoga.

What do you think about the meditation part we start with?

I like it because, um, it warms up my mouth and it helps me enunciate.

What do you think about our rules and mottos?

I like them...I think they're right because a lot of actors whine and they don't have the courage to be silly.

What did you learn about you this year?

I learned that I'm one of the kids who actually can do Shakespeare because some people think that kids can't do Shakespeare.

Did that surprise you about yourself?

Yes, very much.

What did you think about Performance Day?

Cool...and I thought it came out pretty well.

What was your favorite performance?

Um...probably the last one because that one you gave us all the notes and we remembered them and then we didn't need any other notes because it was the last one.

Were you nervous performing in front of the other kids in the school? Because I act a lot and I usually don't really get nervous.

What do you like about acting?

I like that I can be other characters...not just I can be Tom Snout.

What were you proud of with this play?

I'm proud that I actually learned about Shakespeare because I didn't know who Shakespeare was before I came here.

Do you have any tips to make Shakespeare Club better?

Well, sometimes some actors were saying other actors' lines and they shouldn't really do that.

You mean while they were onstage?


Do you know what that's a sign of? Because sometimes adult actors do that too.


It means they're not really listening to the other actor.


What do you think Tom Snout's goal was in the play? What did he want?

He wanted to, um...make the King and Queen happy when they saw the play.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An an an actress, yeah.

I think they're the same thing. If you wanted to be a doctor no one would say, "Oh, Carina wants to be a doctress."

[Carina laughs]

What kind of acting would you like to do?

I'd like doing things that show up on TV.

What do you think an actor's job is?

To stay focused and perform for the audience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Word from the Wise

I was in emotional turmoil leaving The Shakespeare Club. The jumble of rage and sadness made for sleepless nights and bewilderment...until I heard from a sage.

My friend and writing teacher, Eunice Scarfe, called me for a chit-chat and I poured out the details of my hurly-burly. How unjust the world could crummy...and sniff, sniff...just a sec...blow...and also this and that and...for God's sake!...and did you ever?...and can you imagine? And—

"Mel?" Eunice cut me off in a gentle voice.


"It was inevitable."

"What? What the...what?!"

"Look, you're neither a parent at the school nor a district-endorsed teacher. You never had to adhere to state testing. You didn't have to go in every single day to an overcrowded classroom. You were able to teach whatever you wanted, in whatever creative fashion you wished and, for whatever reason, you were able to afford to do it for free. And then it was a success. We are people. Just people with human feelings. The reaction you received from a small minority was inevitable."

Eunice's words were sound. They rained over me like balm on my burns. Most especially that word of wisdom: inevitable.

I wished I'd had the common sense to have figured that out earlier and held my stormy experience at bay, but I didn't. I was too caught up. I was self-righteous in my indignation and caused myself more angst than was necessary. But there you have it.

The truth is after six years it was time for me to change things up. I have travel and writing I want to do. I have been invited to teach a day of Shakespeare workshops at another school in February. And this week The Shakespeare Club will start a new season under the leadership of Rachel, and it will be a sensation.

I created and was given a peerless opportunity. I was able to encourage, inspire and love so many. It was my privilege and I am grateful. That is my takeaway.

My goal for Shakespear Club. My goal was to have the best time of my life. I accomplished my goal. I love being on stage. My fun jorny through education and acting has come to a stop (with Ms. Ryan). I will stay on the Shakespear but Ms. Ryan won't wich makes me sad but we still have Ms. Rachel. Farewell friends of 5th grade. Future 5th graders keep your memerys strong.
Bailey, 4th grade

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Volunteering Thing

It's well documented many prison inmates came from tragic, skewed and messed-up homes.

A wrecked childhood can certainly lead to a wrecked adulthood, where anger supersedes all else.

On the other hand, it's worth noting how many adults, every single day in every single city, make children's lives better despite their own shattered experiences.

I don't know how this happens. How can two people with similar circumstances arrive at opposing lifestyles?

A teacher, a coach, a parent...a citizen with little reason to see the upside ventures forth anyway to make some kid's life a better one.

It can take so little to offer hope. A smile, a word, an acknowledgment...things will get better because you have worth.

It is both bewildering and uplifting to read of these children passing it forward one sandwich at a time. Where did they get this goodness?

As we launch into a new year with so much to fear and enrage us...maybe there's time to deliver the gold.

Two fourth-graders find a way to share school's food (LA Times)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Interview: Bailey

bailey: Hi, I'm Bailey, I'm ten years old and I played the part of Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

mel: Why did you audition for Shakespeare Club?

Because I wanted to learn a lot about William Shakespeare and also I love acting so I thought it would be pretty cool to be in the school play.

So did anything surprise you about the work we did together?

Yes, it surprised me what part I got because I didn't was my first time in Shakespeare Club and I got a really big part and I thought I would get something like Robin Starveling or maybe Snout or Snug....I really didn't think I'd get that big of a part.

Now, what did you learn about yourself doing Shakespeare Club?

That if you really relate to the character you can maybe add a piece of the character to yourself and now I kind of feel like Hermia and I can think about what Hermia can think because I played that role.

What do you like about Hermia that you'd want to hold on to?

I liked how she was demanding, like if she wanted something and it affected her life...she wouldn't give up and she would keep on trying until she got what she wanted.

What was your favorite performance on Performance Day?

Yes, I think that the last one could have been my favorite because I tried my very best because that would be the last "Midsummer Night's Dream" I would do that year and um...and so I tried all my hardest and I think everyone did and so it really made me happy that we did such a good job.

Was there anything boring for you in Shakespeare Club?

I didn't think it was boring but I thought doing those warm-ups was harder than I thought it would be but it still helped me loosen up and it helped me with my acting.

Any tips to make Shakespeare Club better?

Um....well...not really. I think it's a really great club and I think it's good enough as it is today.

What advice would you give another kid about auditioning for Shakespeare Club.

Well, if you're scared about Shakespeare Club performance and you have stage fright just picture the audience in their underwear.

Is that your trick?

Yes, and it works.

What do you want to be when you grow up, Bailey?

I want to be an actress on Broadway.

Why Broadway specifically? Have you seen shows on Broadway?

Yes, "Chicago" and "Wicked" and those are my two favorite plays and now I think "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is my third favorite play.