Of all of the things that surprised me about the kids involved with the production, the biggest thing that stood out to me was this:
I liked these kids.
These kids, who came from backgrounds vastly different from mine, who had been to hospitals or shrinks or had been suspended more than once, et cetera– they were genuinely kind and fun to be around.
Through the rounds of Zip Zap Zop, I immediately noticed one boy, covered in bandanas on his ankles and wrists and head, danced during every moment that did not require him to stand still. Even after I called him out on it and praised him for his smooth moves, he only shied away for a moment before he hopped from one foot to another.
Another girl, who was admittedly prone to interrupting, asked thoughtful questions about her scene as Miranda and was even able to calm one of the rowdier boys when he had a brief outburst.
As more and more students got ‘out’ from playing Zip Zap Zop, they watched the remaining players with intrigue and kept the noise to a murmur, often asking who was still in and who I personally thought was going to win.
I had been afraid of some of the young men making passes at Taylor and I, but we were met with respect all around, and Timon acted more like a watchful coach rather than a strict disciplinarian to the kids.
I quickly came to adore several kids who, though they seemed shy, immediately volunteered to read different ‘Head, Heart and Gut’ lines and understood my extremely vague synopses of their scenes. One boy, Chris, who had announced proudly at the beginning that he was now celebrating his tenth year cancer-free (and was met with whoops and applause all around) read for Caliban, and noted that his excerpt contained a swear word.
“Is it okay if I use that?” He asked.
“It’s what Shakespeare would have wanted. Let it ring out, dude!” I responded.
With a huge grin on his face, he read the lines with intense power, and practically screamed the word “ASS!” when it was time, which was, once again, met with encouraging whoops and applause from the audience.
As far as first impressions go, I am very excited to work with this group on Monday and to get them started on our next plan of action, which will likely involve more reading of lines from the show and a synopsis of the show, and Taylor and I will continue to analyze which people might fit certain roles.