Children are natural born actors. Think about it. Aren’t children always looking for an audience? A two-year-old follows you around to give her rendition of “tantrum” or a nine-year-old offers his soliloquy on “the importance of being a whiney-pants.” Children practice acting daily so that when they finally reach elementary school, they are more or less professionals. Professionals get paid, Victoria Marie, you might say. But yes. These elementary school actors are paid. Think barter system here.
The melodramatics of Collin; he is forever falling on the floor. No one is around him. Nothing is on the floor; no bookbags, pencils, papers, or workbooks. If I miss my cue—the overly loud thump is my cue, but he usually waits for me to be looking at him—he switches pantomime. Now he holds his head all the time, when he’s not thumping it on the desk to get my attention, of course. As for payment for these particular performances, he simply wishes to miss math to be able to sit in the nurse’s office with ice on his…whatever he decides hurts by the time he walks [perfectly well, I might add] down the hallway to the nurse’s office.
Yes, the thespians are usually boys in elementary school. While the boys prefer stunt work without dialogue, you’ll find the girls in award-winning supporting roles—with plenty of dialogue. Girls have an uncanny knack for playing the assistant—especially when you don’t need an assistant. Angelina is cute as a kitten, but she was always around my hips today. Every time I glanced at her chair, it was vacant.
What dialogue do female assistants use? Why a running commentary of what everyone else is doing in the classroom. And I mean everyone!
“Johnny ripped a little piece off Susie’s worksheet and crumpled it and then when he walked by Tommy, he shoved it down Tommy’s shirt,” the actress chatters on. “And then Kyle started picking at his big dragon eraser and he’s making a mess all over the floor and …”
Female thespians look for verbal appreciation for payment. A “thank you” can go a long way in helping a young actress feel appreciated, although it does absolutely nothing to help her stay in her seat and complete the class work.
Now don’t forget. Actors desire more than one person in their audience, if they can help it. A classroom full of giggles helps build confidence—but does nothing for furthering the lesson plan the poor substitute is trying desperately to decipher.
For me, well I perform before a captive audience. Not only do I need to read the audience instantly, I also need to adlib intelligence in all subjects. I guess there’s a bit of thespian in us all.