Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Brian's evening

It was a tough evening for Brian, mostly.

When I came home he was really upset. Really. It turns out that he has good reason to be. Now, I am honest about my kids' weaknesses. I'm not one of those moms who carries on about how wonderful my kid is in everything. However, you must believe me when I tell you that Brian can act. There is a traveling children's theatre and when they come to town, Brian has consistently been one of the kids who have snagged one of the big parts -- even when he was several years younger and had to wear a costume that was far too big for him. I can't stop myself from telling everyone how wonderful he was in Harvey last year. He played Elwood and stayed in character even while feeding other actors their lines. He was genuinely fantastic. At the beginning of the year the drama teacher invited him to switch from Drama 1 to Drama 2 because she did not have any students in the advanced class who could handle a certain part. He declined because he would have to drop either Spanish or Jazz Band, and he has friends in Drama 1.

Okay, so he is good. He can also carry a tune. He isn't a great singer, but he can hit the right notes which in our house is pretty impressive.

So now the class is doing the Lion King. The regular drama teacher isn't directing because it is a musical. The school's "Artistic Director" (AD) is doing it. All the kids who wanted major parts had to sing one line. Brian reports that he did that okay, which I believe. He wanted to play Scar. Brian likes playing bad guys.

The AD came to class yesterday and announced that she was assigning parts based upon what she had seen of their work, not the auditions. She offered the part of Scar to Gary who didn't audition and doesn't want to act and has ever acted before. This is important. If the AD couldn't be assigning parts based upon her views of their previous work because Gary does not have any previous work. Gary wants to do lights. Gary turned it down and then the AD offered it to a girl who Gary says can't sing at all. I remember her from the last play. She didn't remember her lines and kept giggling.

Gary backs Brian up on the story that the casting does not make sense. We are assured that the motive of "giving every one a turn" does not explain the casting decisions, nor does actual talent.

Brian has been offered the part of an background animal who has no lines.

I understand him being upset.

So I sat with him while he raged. I asked him how close he was to having the whole play memorized. He said pretty close. I suggested that he ask his drama teacher to tell the AD that he really can step into any part, any day. Every day someone is absent, he should volunteer to read for whoever it is and do that part well. He can be the unofficial understudy of the whole frickin play. I told him, "Maybe you won't actually get to take over a part, but that so-called artistic director will see what a huge mistake she made!" My being vindictive and petty on his part seemed to really cheer him up.

We also agreed that since one of the things he imagines doing when he grows up is being a drama teacher, that he will use this play as a "lab." I assured him that being such a great actor he was never going to get a chance to be involved in a play and not have a part ever again. This time he could watch to see how the director did things. He could even practice teaching drama by coaching other students.

Anyway, by the end of the conversation he was imagining going in there with quiet dignity and doing everything perfectly. It does help that he knows the real teacher understands that a mistake has been made.

So on to brighter things right? Not so much.

Brian had finally agreed to try out the class at the Y. Gary likes it there more and more. They have got more equipment. There are a couple of other young people there at about his skill level. So Brian went.

He came back anxious and said that he really didn't want to go. The kids in that class were the same sort of kids he had trouble with at his old school (they might have even been some of the same kids). He would like to go back to the private gym, but he knows it costs more and we have to drive farther so if we don't want to he doesn't have to take a class at all.

Roland was first happy to just let him not take any class at all, but I think I convinced him to let Brian go back. The big issue isn't the money, it's the driving. Two boys will have to be collected at about the same time from two different locations twice a week. I had to promise I would do my share of the driving even though I don't like driving at night and usually manage to do things like forget and get into the bathtub just before it is time to go.

We haven't told Brian that it is okay for him to go back to the other class.


And one more thing. For his speech class he has to do a presentation on his "family and friends." Now, on one hand I need to talk to the speech teacher and make sure that the assignment was given in such a way that allows kids to protect their privacy. On the other hand, Brian is pretty excited about his. Roland showed him how to use power point and he set something up where one slide is just him and Andrew and then each of his other brothers comes "flying in" one at a time. He's excited about it.

It was an emotional evening for him.


  1. One of the most improtant things my father teached me was to Say yes teacher, no teacher and only to think F*Ck you teacher. The fact that he agreed that sometimes they were worng worked wonders for my attitude. I think you handled this beautiful!

  2. Good going, Brian!

    I remember, in middle school, my G&T program did "Camelot" and the part of Guenevere went to another girl who eventually dropped. I got the part in the middle of rehearsals because I had a decent voice and had learned all the songs and most of the lines.

    Let Brian know, talent is a must, but roles consistently go to the dependable workhorses who are easy for directors to work with. Even if he didn't get the part this time, there are always more parts to be had and the good self-disciplinary and working hard habits are noticed and appreciated. Even if this director never admits that she made a mistake, others will notice his positive, professional attitude and seek out ways to work with him in the future based on that.

  3. My son is also an actor, with similar experiences to Brian. Losing that first audition sucks and is so hard for them. M son will be 13 in two weeks and have been in about 15 plays in the last 4 years. He has had a lead role in every one. The last audition he had he didn't get cast. He cried for two days. It was so hard.

    Isn't Brian your boy with anxiety issues? My son has them too, but I find it so interesting that he can do theater so well. He also has a photographic memory and remembers the lines easily.

    Sorry for hijacking your post.

  4. Stacy:
    1. that little comment doesn't come close to a hijack
    2. I don't mind when people "hijack" if they are interesting and non-insulting!
    3. Yes, Brian is my kid with anxiety issues. Switching schools helped, but doing well in the play last spring really seemed to make the difference. the next post!

  5. Wow..I think the suggestion of volunteering and doing the part well was genious...I think that AD is clueless!


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