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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Volunteering (BookPals/Euclid Academy)

I’ve just become a BookPal volunteer ( ). On Nov 3rd I was asked if I’d be interested in coaching 10-year old students on monologues they had written. I volunteered for Euclid Academy

At the front gate I was greeted with a smile, asked to sign in and escorted to the office. Shortly after that I met the drama teacher, outside acting coach and co-Book Pal actors.  As I understood it, the students had been working on this project for a couple of weeks and many had never performed on stage.

We moved over to the library. To start, we ALL had to say our name and in a word or two let the group know how we felt about what we were about to do.

As we broke into groups of ~5 in the library my mind was racing with how to use all this energy around me and keep them focused and committed to the task at hand. 

We created a “little” stage area with a starting position and the kids arranged their seats to face the actor. I told them that they’d be doing their monologues twice. First we’d hear it the way they wanted it to be heard. Then their co-actors and director would give them some feedback and they’d do it a second time with that in mind. We were off to a very good start!

Then the magic began.  Stories of being a rock star, inventing an iPhone8, killing alien creatures on Halloween, trying hard and getting good grades and being homeless and asking and getting a second chance in life. (If you’re still with me, re-read that last storyline and remember they are 10!)

The kids really supported each other. They gave each other lots of applause and some really helpful feedback. Just before wrapping up, I sat with my group and we reviewed what we had learned from this and some of the theatre terminology I had given them.  They had not missed a thing.

Okay, time to fast forward to performance day, Wednesday, Nov 16th.  I walked into the auditorium and saw a full stage with curtain drawn and an audience of their piers.  After a brief intro, the curtain rises and there were probably 45 children. Each student moved center stage, expressed how they felt about what they were about to do and then took a seat next to a classmate. Next, one-by-one, each of the ~45 took their starting position on stage and performed their “memorized” monologue.

The diverse themes, the acting, the laughter and the applause were very moving. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. And though I was really PROUD of my five actors I give a standing ovation to all (including the teachers, staff and Robin Roy of BookPals).