Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Morning with Shakepeare's Rude Mechanicals

Today is one of those days when I am so grateful we live in the small town that we do and for the people God has put in front of my family. This morning, 11 children who call themselves the Rude Mechanicals sat around a girlfriend's kitchen table, reading Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing." My friend Mary guided them through about two-thirds of the play, as the boys and girls read out loud.

This went on for three hours amid laughter, and teasing and general good fun. There was a break for apples and orange slices and a quick-moving game of charades in the family room. Our son L. was asked to be part of the fun. I was in the family room the whole time, sitting and knitting and drinking tea with another mom.

We've known Mary and her husband for years. They homeschool their two sons, now ages 12 and 9, and my husband has coached the older boy in basketball for the past four years. Mary's little acting troupe has been performing Shakespeare in backyards for about four years. They act out abridged but not adapted versions. The Rude Mechanicals began when Mary, formerly a professional actress, decided to have her toddler sons act out a children's story book with the two also home-schooled boys next door. (The origin of the name comes from characters  from"A Midsummer Night's Dream," who perform a play within a play.)

The group evolved as the children grew; some children ended up attending school so the readings now happen on Saturday mornings for the younger children and Saturday nights for the teens. Each year, the children make their way through some Shakespearean plays and then choose one they will perform in May. (These photos are from a production of Hamlet two summers ago)

I don't think I ever have seen Mary not smiling. I asked her when she finished her three hours with guiding her Rude Mechanicals if she was tired. She said she really wasn't because she loves what she is doing. 

"Poets, artists, thinkers, but also ordinary men and women, simply disposed to a certain inner light, have been able and still are able, in the times before Christ and in our own time and among us, to experience something of the joy of God."  Pope Paul VI

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