This week I’ll set sail to Treasure Island for the last time. Time is a funny thing. On one hand, it seems like forever since I was in Missoula ringing in the new year; yet, these past five months have flown by. As I reflect on this first tour, I am flooded with memories of heartwarming moments, and, of course, some hilarious gems. Please enjoy these anecdotes/quotes from children across America.
One week there was a little boy who, for some reason, was convinced he was being cut. He ran to his mom, so my tour partner, Jacob, had to convince him to come back to the circle and finish the audition. He was cast as a seagull (the youngest kids who are adorable and lead the way to Treasure Island), and after we dismissed from the audition, he came up to Jacob and said, “My whole life I have dreamed of being a seagull.” His WHOLE life. Of SEVEN YEARS! There you go, ladies and gentlemen, Jacob and I make life-long dreams come true.
The seagulls don’t have rehearsal until Wednesday, but he was around the theatre the next day because he had a sibling at rehearsal. Before rehearsal began, he walked up to the stage and said, “One more day,” as if he were preparing for battle.
Finally, Wednesday rolled around, and he was a shining star. I put him as the line leader, and before each seagull scene, I would remind him what to do. He would nod, and summon all of the focus a 7-year-old can muster, and prepare for the cue.
In between the two performances on Saturday, we were touching up makeup. During this time, we sometimes like to give the kids an opportunity to give compliments to their fellow cast. It was almost time for the show, so we needed to end compliment hour to give instructions for what to do after the show. All of a sudden, this boy had these giant crocodile tears. I took him out into the hall to figure out the issue, and he informed me, between sobs, that he didn’t get the chance to compliment the cast (even though he definitely had already said something). Being a softie, I told him after Jacob’s announcements, we might have time for one more compliment. It basically turned into an Oscar’s speech of him thanking everyone for making this the best week ever, and everyone was so amazing, and he loved everything, etc, etc, etc. Oh, that boy. I wish he had a social media I could follow so I can see him turn into a star.
Another week during compliment time, the kids once again turned it into their Oscar “thank you’s,” rather than saying, “Sally did a great job!” One girl raised her hand and said, “I’d just like to thank the audience. Without the audience, we would have no one to perform for. Really, they’re the reason we’re doing this. As long as we make people happy, we’ve done our jobs.” Or something like that. I think she went on several more sentences. We didn’t have outro music available.
In addition to teaching Treasure Island, we get to do workshops with kids who may or may not be in the cast. We do various exercises about different elements of acting. One of the exercises involves select students standing in front of the group, answering questions about their characters. The catch is that they don’t know who their characters are, but they figure it out based on the questions asked.
One student was Batman, and a student asked, “Why are you black?”
Another time a student was Olaf from Frozen. “How does it feel having two balls instead of three?” I tried to rephrase the question, saying something about proportions. Whatever I said, I didn’t make it much better. We tried to move the exercise along, but not before a kid managed to blurt out, “I thought he was talking about testicles!” Great… thanks for that.
A different exercise involves one of us being the ruler of a kingdom. The students are the subjects and must make bold choices to earn our favor. They are then either welcomed to stand next to the throne or dismissed. One time I was the ruler for a workshop with a high school theatre class. Someone came up and sang really high, and I dismissed them. Jacob informed the court that the Great Samantha prefers lower voices. A teenage boy walked up and said, “Oh, Great Samantha, I heard you like sultry voices.” He then got down on one knee and PROPOSED! He didn’t earn my favor because I didn’t want a lawsuit. However, I wish I could’ve rewarded him for his bold choice, which was the point of the exercise.
One dress rehearsal when Jacob was Long John Silver and I was the director, Jacob had his costume on and I was wearing my denim jumpsuit. The kids were excited to see Jacob’s costume, knowing they would soon be getting their costumes as well. They also liked my costume, but they couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be. A nurse? They simply couldn’t understand that it was a real-life outfit.
“Are you married?”
“Are you engaged?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“That’s really sad…..”
(These children should make friends with my grandma)
“Do you two have kids?”
“Haha, no. We wouldn’t be very good parents if we had children since we’re in a different town every week.”
“Just get a babysitter!”
“No, I don’t think that would work out very well.”
Cue a different child:
“So, what do you do with your kids?”
On a Thursday:
“What’s your name? I remember that it was really long on your name tag….”
“Okay, you two sit right there so I can take a picture of you. Okay, now we need to take a selfie.” – A 5-year-old with her iPhone
This story isn’t exactly funny, but it was one of those moments that didn’t feel like real life because everything was spiraling out of control. I was teaching the group of seagulls, and all of a sudden one of them had a nose bleed. I asked the assistant director to watch the kids while I ran to get our contact for the week. When I returned with the contact, it looked like a crime scene. The child had wiped the blood everywhere, and it had spread to the floor. The contact quickly rushed the child out, and I was trying to move the rest of the kids away from the blood. What’s that sound? Oh, a child just threw up at the sight of blood. Now, there was a blood pile, and a puke pile, and a group of frightened children. I moved them out into the hallway to try to salvage any chance of saving the rehearsal. Oh my word.
In order to teach a show in a week, Jacob and I teach separate groups and then piece the show together later. One day, we reconvened for announcements before dismissal. I asked Jacob’s group how their rehearsal went. “Great! Fun! I loved it!” etc. etc.
Jacob asked my group.
In case this blog post has you feeling like that poor group of over-worked children, I will wrap it up by saying that I will be boring kids for the next twelve months. That’s right, Treasure Island is coming to an end, but I will soon be traveling to infinity and beyond with Gulliver’s Travels… in Space! Forever grateful for the greatest job in the world.