Can I just take two minutes of your time to tell you how proud I am of my oldest son?
Each year Mister Determined’s school holds a Shakespeare Festival, in which every class in the entire school performs (part of) a Shakespearean play. Yes, the entire school. Yes, that includes the Kindy class. And all the kids join in. Yes, all of them – big and small, tall and short. Including the special needs kids. No one is left out (unless a child really, really doesn’t want to) and a part if found for everyone. It doesn’t have to be a speaking part, or a long part (and some main roles are shared between two actors), but everyone gets a spot.
This year’s Kindy class, the one Mister Determined is in, performed “The Seven Ages of Man” (probably better known as “All The World’s A Stage” from the play “As You Like It”). It’s not a very long piece, but not exactly a walk in the park either for a bunch of five and six year old kids.
Now, as it happens, one of Mister Determined’s passions is “doing shows”. This involves him standing in front of an audience, jumping and dancing around with a microphone (either his toy one, or in an emergency an empty roll of toilet paper will do). Every since his Uncle Jonno took him to a Hi5 and High School Musical performance, the boy is obsessed with the world of performing. He just loves theatres and stages. When the local shopping centre puts on some fashion show, we spend a few hours sitting near the empty stage in between shows, with him and his brother jumping on and off the stage “doing shows”. A raised surface in our garden provides a stage, as does the odd stool in the kitchen.
But really, he loves the real stage, a wooden one on which his shoes make a “toc” sound when he walks. A stage with a black curtain to create a backstage behind which to get changed. A stage with steps to get on to. A stage with an auditorium in front of it, where the audience sit, in numbered chairs, tickets in hands, anticipating the show, clapping and cheering. He loves it all. How lucky is he, that his school does just that, each year. Yes, the Shakespeare Festival is held in a local theatre, a real one. Despite the costs (the ticket sales never quite cover it) the school insists that the children should have the experience of a real stage, as it gives weight to their performance, and the effort they have put into it.
So this week was Shakespeare Festival. Since last term the children have been learning their lines, practicing the movements, trying on their costumes. And now, finally, on Thursday morning, the big moment was here.
I am supposed to say “I am not sure who was more nervous, me or him” but that’s not true. I was definitely more nervous than him. He was certainly excited, but nervous was not the word. He had gone off to school the morning of his first performance happy as Larry. He was going to have his big moment on the stage. He seemed so happy – but my biggest fear was that it would all prove too exciting for him, and he would “loose” it at the very last minute, burst into tears, and not make it.
Later that morning, Boo Boo, Hubby and I sat in the red velvet chairs waiting for the first performance, my legs jiggling with nerves. The Principal came on to introduce the Kindy class, the room went pitch dark, the curtain went up, and out they came, skipping to their seats on the stage, twenty five year olds dressed all in black. They sat in two groups, with a small platform between them. They told the story as a group, and in between, in small groups of two or three kids, they acted out the seven stages of man. It was absolutely fantastic, absolutely amazing. No one forgot their lines. They sailed through the whole thing, and the acting out was hilarious. They had all the mime, the facial expressions, and funny little props to become their characters – plastic swords, beards and wigs, school bags, veils – it was so precious.
After the kids were done, we got to see the Year 1 and Year 2 kids - it was an absolute hoot! Year 1 did “The Tempest” with parts sung rather than acted, and Year 2 did “The Winter’s Tale” with dancing to Frank Sinatra songs. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much.
But I admit, the tears were not only from laughing. They were mixed with tears of pride. You see, Mister Determined was wonderful. He looked into the audience with a steady, unflinching gaze. He said his lines, all of them loud and clear. I could clearly distinguish his voice. He never faltered. In fact, there were a few times when he led his group, and the kid next to him looked at Mister D. a few times for reassurance. He acted out his part – that of a guard taking a prisoner to the Judge - with gusto. His solo line was “Banished, to Australia”.
This was the kid that did not speak until he was four. And here he was, confidently performing Shakespeare on stage with his classmates. I was just so proud!
Hubby and I sat there, beaming. And it didn’t stop after the show. So many parents came up to tell us how well he’d done, and how he’s found his vocation. Boo Boo loved it too; she sat through the whole play, enjoying it. She never cried, never complained, and only got vocal when she recognised her brother and our friend William.
It was just wonderful. And the next evening, on Friday, they got to do it all over again. This time we left Boo Boo at home with the babysitter and took Possum with us (who felt like a real big boy going out in the night). Oma Ineke came too, making the evening even more special. Again he was not nervous. Again he said his lines clearly and loudly. It was a very special night.
Yes, maybe he has found his vocation. Who knows? Time will tell. But at the moment, we’re just brimming with pride.