Monday, September 01, 2008

Daisy just finished her first week of being a fourth grader. For those you keeping track, that officially makes me old. Sure, I was always old and crotchety on the inside, rotting malignantly from deep within, but now I'm old on the outside too. My hips hurt.

Anyway, the point is that her summer is now officially over as are her summer camps. Let's review them.

Daisy attended three different camps, two of which were performing arts themed. The first performing arts one was for musical theater. This three week camp culminated in a performance of an originally-written musical, where pretty much all the kids got to sing, dance, and act, regardless of actual ability. The end result was hilarious with generous helpings of cringing and occasional bouts of being impressed.

A couple of the kids stood out with their musical ability, but mostly it was what you'd expect from watching a group of kids in elementary school being asked to perform in a musical less than three weeks after first seeing the script or being shown the choreography.

Nearly all of the kids recited their lines while visibly focusing on the task of remembering which word comes next. The goal of each line seemed to be reach the end of that line and pass the hot-potato of speaking to the next kid. Bonus points if you managed to speak your own lines and not someone else's.

Daisy, however, rocked her part. She was in the tiny minority of children who actually ACTED her part. She was expressive, showed a range of emotion, and was completely charming. I was charmed. How often does that happen? Like maybe twice. The kid can act. That's awesome.

Next up was Shakespeare camp. This was a two week camp where the kids split into three age groups, and each of the groups put on an abbreviated Shakespeare play. Daisy's group did Twelfth Night.

Let me preface this section by telling you that I generally find Shakespeare performances to be impenetrable. My unfamiliarity with the language prevents me enjoying the word play or even following the basic outline of the plot. I catch little bits of plot and occasional clever turns of phrase, but mostly I'm just baffled and resentful.

So, take a typical Shakespeare performance, which will confound and anger me in the best of circumstances and now let's have small children, with their adorable lack of diction, perform it. For good measure, let's stage this performance in an outdoor amphitheater to drown out the wee kiddie voices with wind noise, airplanes, and that brat next to me who couldn't stop fidgeting.

I couldn't understand a damn thing. It was nearly two hours of ye olde unintelligible performances. I kept rereading the program trying to figure out what was going on.

"Is that one the bear or the king?" I'd whisper to Hank, but the airplane noise would inevitably drown out my pleas for help.

Hardly any of the kids knew the show well enough to act their lines. Additionally, during the oldest kids' performance, which at an hour long was about an hour too long, nearly all of the kids didn't finish learning their lines so they just carried their scripts around and read from them. So, the notion of actually PERFORMING was completely lost.

The lesson learned here is that if you want to put on a Shakespeare performance, populated entirely by small children, you'd best have them rehearse for more than a week and a half.

Daisy, of course, cannot wait to do it again next year. Oy.


Avery Gray said...

Shakespeare's stuff is incredibly raunchy. If parents really knew what their kids were saying, they wouldn't find it quite so endearing, I'm thinking. Don't feel bad--you weren't missing much.

Mike said...

I suspect they removed most of the raunch in the kiddie-edited versions of these plays, but hell if I know for sure. They all sounded like wind and airplane noise.

Sue said...

Imagine trying to watch one of those things while stifling a 2 or 3 year old child who just wants to run and scream.

That said, I was still impressed that my son came home talking about iambic pentameter and crazy stuff like that.

Mike said...

Sue, you'd be amazed what kids learn when you let them out of the house. ;)

Tasty said...

Just wait to see how old you feel when your daughter turns 39. (My poor Dadness.)

Mike said...

Tasty, I don't know what gives you the idea that I'll be alive in another 31 yers.

Monica said...

OK, our Shakes camp meant that we only had to watch about 30 minutes of unintelligible line reading. It was hilarious, though. I didn;t stay for the other performances. And I have the LOUDEST child on the stage, so at least I could understand all of his lines. And I actually LIKE Shakespeare!

Mike said...

Hey Monica! Well, liking Shakespeare gives you a big leg up on me. You probably even understand the stuff.