What happens when an idealist volunteers to introduce Shakespeare to a group of unruly kids? Bedlam. Tears. And hard lessons learned. Mel Ryane's Teaching Will is a riotous cautionary tale of high hopes and goodwill crashing into the realities of classroom chaos.
“Are you famous?”
“No . . . no, I’m definitely not famous. What’s your name?”
“Marin. What TV shows and movies are you in?” It’s impossible to miss the challenge in Marin’s voice.
At a parent-teacher meeting a few weeks ago, I handed out brochures advertising the Shakespeare Club, my after-school program. The pamphlet included a brief biography mentioning my career as an actor and my work as a dialogue and acting coach. There was no mention of time spent as a public school teacher because I am not, nor have I ever been, one.
“It’s true, Marin, I was an actor for a long time in the theatre and in a few movies and television shows, but I stopped doing that a while ago. Actually, before you were even born.” An annoying bead of sweat trickles down the inside of my arm. I clutch my elbow close, hoping the wetness doesn’t show.
Marin’s hair is pulled tight into braids. She tilts her head, chews the inside of her cheek, and keeps me in her eyeline.
“What TV shows were you in?”
“You wouldn’t know them—”
“Yeah, I would. What ones?”
God, give it up! I want to scream, but you shouldn’t scream at children. That’s never a good idea, and certainly not at the very first meeting. I release a long sigh.