Saturday, May 28, 2011

Much Ado about SOMETHING Amazing!

I tried to turn it down a couple times. My life always seems so full as it is. I shuttered at how much work it would involve volunteering with twelve kids attempting to perform Shakespeare (in the original language), especially twelve kids with English as a second language. And as far as I knew none had ever acted in any capacity before. It seemed quite challenging.  But I'm extremely glad God didn't allow me to miss this opportunity. About six weeks ago, because of the encouragement of a passionate parent/neighbor of mine (Emily Devitis),  I sat down with this local committed teacher, Sarah Coyle, who explained her big dream: to give her kids an opportunity to do something they'd never done before (and might not ever get a chance to do). Due to many school district cuts, public schools have no room for extras, let alone the arts. My heart melted and I agreed to direct this group of 4th and 5th grade students in scenes from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

I first only agreed to one hour a week. The realized it needed to be two, then three hours, and on some weeks four hours with the last week being as much time as I could! And with a lot of prayer we pulled off two performances on Friday and I must say, they nailed it! I was so proud of them. (We have one show left next week. WED JUNE 1, 6-6:30PM ROOSEVELT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL). Needless to say I grew in love with them (even when they forget their lines and add lib things about Chuck E.  Cheese and Red Lobster. Yes it happened, and it was one of the funniest moments in the performance).

My mother-in-law painted facial hair for the guys. It added so much and gave them a boost of character.

The backdrop/set was designed and constructed in a great community collaboration (I love this word).
It all started from Emily Devitis (my neighbor) who connected me to the school. Then  she and Jen Alexander (artist extraordinaire) designed/painted the set. It's beautiful.

5th grade Victoria, in blue below, plays Beatrice. She will also get a scholarship to attend Broadway By the Bay's Youth Theatre Conservatory! There was even an article written about her and our production on Read it here.

The kids had never experienced wearing a microphone before. Having amplification added so much to the performance.

 My long time friend, Erica Wyman (actor and director as well, below in the pink), with her Broadway by the Bay connections hooked me with the Boys and Girls' club two years ago. And now she agreed to help partner in this little production. She arranged a great sound system and invited Broadway by The Bay's Development Director Tyler Bennet and Executive Director Jim Gardia, to watch the show. They greeted the kids afterward and just gushed all over them which made the kids feel so amazing! We are so thankful to Broadway by the Bay for covering our costumes, as well! They were a perfect fit for the show!

Afterward I teared up talking w/ the Principal and the BBB staff. God is doing something amazing. I love how he intersects our gifts/passions with the kingdom. This was such a practical way for me to love on our city and bless the schools.

My favorite part was hearing the kids' reactions. They knew they had accomplished something beyond their abilities, they felt good about themselves, experienced teamwork, and they were already dreaming about a "Midsummer Night's Dream for next year"....We'll see about that..


Autumn said...

Way to go Tony and all the kids that you worked with. Sounds like an amazing performance! Standing Ovation!!! Excited to see what else God has in story for you through theater and acting.

Autumn said...

Speaking of am I going to see your short film since we won't get to hang in the summer? I've got to get my hands on it somehow!