Tag Archives: the tempest

Till Next Year, Actors

I promised that I would give just one more little look at The Tempest with better photos.  These are stolen from friends with better cameras who actually got to sit in the audience.

Fish or Fowl?  Smells like a fish!  You can see that every moment Mushroom was on stage, he was just brilliantly into it.

Work not so hard, sir.  I’ll bear your logs awhile!  BalletBoy and the girl playing Miranda had such a cute chemistry together.

A most high miracle!  BalletBoy really does look like he’s found his long lost father.  They had a pretty hilarious hug next.

The kids are keen to do something else next year, so I’m already bracing myself, though I suspect this might be an every other year undertaking for me, especially since we have a big trip in the planning stages for spring next year.  But the pull of the bard is strong!

Our Revels Now Are Ended…

It’s the day after our amazing, excellent performance of The Tempest.  My thoughts are too muddled for a serious post and I have few images worth sharing because I was way too busy to take pictures.  But deeper thoughts about children and Shakespeare, young performers, set designs and so forth, as well as much better images I’ll steal from people who had proper cameras and time to snap pictures, can come later.  Right now, I’m just filled with satisfaction and pride that my kids and their friends performed a real, actual Shakespeare play, even abridged.  And I’m filled with thankfulness for the parents who helped make it happen as well as for the many kind things they said about all of my efforts.

Mushroom and a friend goofing off on the set (they were making "shadow angels") on Friday as the stage manager mom and I get things in place along with the director of the theater.
At home before we left for the theater once I had everyone's face painted (BalletBoy has a tiny mustache to play Ferdinand).
This blurry picture is BalletBoy as Ferdinand, wooing Miranda. He said, "Admired Miranda!" so earnestly that the audience chuckled.
After the show at the cast party at our house. Mushroom became suddenly sad when he realized it was all over. Poor kid!

‘Ban ‘Ban Caliban!

Sorry for the lack of postings this week.  I am swamped with a million things, included a visit from my father, a night at the Shakespeare Theater (Wilde’s An Ideal Husband – it was pretty good) a million other things to get ready for The Tempest which will have its opening night (and only night!) this weekend.

Anyway, I got it together for an almost Wordless Wednesday.  Here’s Mushroom getting his face painted for Caliban.  Erica, homeschool mom and face painter extraordinaire, did this and showed me how.  Now, if I can copy it and do even half as good a job as she did, then I’ll be pleased.

The Story I Always Remember

My whole head is full of the stuff dreams are made of…  that is to say, The Tempest.  The insanity of this project is only really now hitting me.  What was I thinking?

I have drama in my head for the first time in many years.  As a kid, I thought I wanted to be a actress when I grew up.  All through elementary and middle school, I strove to be in every school production and talent show.  I loved it.  Then I got to high school and found I didn’t really care anymore.  Now, I’m remembering all those drama teachers of my youth, especially Mrs. Fuller, my middle school drama teacher, who was a queen of proper pronunciation.

But there’s one early experience I had in elementary school that I will always remember, when I had my first big role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  I played Woodstock.  It was an honor to be a lowly third grader in with the teenagers in the play.  I thought it was so much fun to be with the big kids.  Every day in rehearsal, I would sit quietly and watch, but it was often a raucous time, which I think I enjoyed, honestly, even though I didn’t really participate.  The drama and music teacher grew more and more frustrated with the misbehavior.  Finally, the music teacher lost it one afternoon and yelled at everyone.

Once she had us properly sedate and attentive, she angrily pointed to a painting on the wall.  I’m pretty sure it was a student copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers.  “You see that painting up there?” she asked us.  “It’s pretty, right?  It’s a nice painting.  Well, let’s imagine that there’s a piece of sh** in the corner.  Just a tiny piece.”  You can imagine, the whole room went stiff at her swearing at us.  I’m sure some kids snickered.  “If there was?” she asked.  “Would you notice the nice picture?  Of course not.  You’re only notice the sh**!”  I can remember so clearly being shocked and wondering what in the world this was all about.  Then she said, really harshly, “Well that’s what it’s like if we put on a wonderful play while you guys are goofing off and making noise backstage.  No one will notice the play.  They’re only notice the bad part!”  Everyone shut up and the rest of the rehearsal went very well.

For me, that story is the best example of a truth I try to remember as a parent, which is that swearing very rarely to get across a serious point can often be very effective.  But also, I just remember it as the right sort of metaphor for a production or a project of any kind.  If you do a good job, but then goof off or otherwise embarrass yourself, then no one will even see the good job.  All they’ll see is the goofing off.

As you can imagine, every week at rehearsal, we have this problem with the kids in The Tempest.  After all, they’re kids!  They want to be rambunctious and goof off and be silly.  I’m just hoping that when it comes down to it, we’ll get serious enough to not embarrass ourselves.  The kids have worked so hard and it’ll be so wonderful to see the production really work.  At least, I hope so.

In Which I Undertake Something Dumb…

We are embarking on a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I’m directing it and am in the process of figuring out the casting as well as editing down the script we have so that no one has too many lines.  I am, no doubt, completely and utterly insane.

But, because it’s on my mind, for your use, a post on Shakespearean resources.  I’ve posted about Shakespeare a little before.  Now, a few more things you can use to learn about Shakespeare and specifically The Tempest.

First up, there’s the scripts.  Obviously, you can get the actual text of Shakespeare’s plays most anywhere.  There’s a good chance you already have them in your home.  I have the weighty tome that is The Riverside Shakespeare from my college days.  Of course, if you don’t, there’s always Shakespeare at Project Gutenberg.  Here’s a link where you can see Shakespeare’s works available there.

Shakespeare with Children: Six Scripts For Young PlayersIf you’re working with kids, you might not want the full original versions.  Simply Shakespeare by Jennifer Kroll is a book that includes simple story versions of the plays done as reader’s theater.  For the most part, the language is modernized.  The plays are meant to be done in about 20 minutes.  Stepping things up a little bit, Shakespeare with Children by Elizabeth Weinstein gives slightly longer versions of six of the plays.  These are shortened versions that incorporate mostly Shakespearean language.  This is the version of the plays we’re using, though I’m cutting it down somewhat.  Finally, when I was looking for our script to base our production, I considered both this site and this one.  I thought both looked promising.

Next, picture book versions of the Shakespearean stories are a must.  I think they’re a useful way to introduce the plays all the way up to high school.  For The Tempest, these are the resources we’ve been looking at:

The Tempest retold by Ann Keay Beneduce
The Tempest adapted by Mariana Mayer
Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams
The Tempest by Bruce Coville
Shakespeare for Kids: The Tempest by Lois Burdett
Stories from Shakespeare by E. Nesbit

The Bruce Coville Shakespeare series is especially wonderful.  I have mixed feelings about the children’s illustrations in the Lois Burdett Shakespeare versions.  Plus, the strange poetry she uses to retell the stories isn’t really my style.  However, I know others really like these versions.  Nesbit’s Shakespeare retellings are available at Project Gutenberg here and at Google Books here.

Finally, some resources on Shakespeare’s life are good to have.  We’ve only just begun to explore these, but here are some I’ve found useful.

The Usborne World of Shakespeare by Anna Claybourne
Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki
Bard of Avon: the Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley

Right now I’m feeling very foolhardy and optimistic about the ability of these kids to do this amazing production.  But ask me again in March if I still think this was a good idea!