Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rebel Geoff

This week marked Geoff's first days with Rebel Shakespeare. On Tuesday and Wednesday Geoff pulled his usual weirdness around strange, new people. I think I've said it here before, but he reminds me of "Round Here" by Counting Crows where Adam sings (of a girl, not of Geoff) "She knows she's more than just a little misunderstood. She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous."

It was a bumpy start. But even in his weirdness, Keri told me that he read parts and lines really well and impressed her. His counselor Matt said that whenever he asked for a volunteer Geoff's hand was up first and he was willing, no matter what, to do. Which is good.

He got into some trouble yesterday, not for hitting or doing anything physical but for making noise, speaking out of turn, repeatedly suggesting they use real swords and knives, and being distracting when the time wasn't right to do so.

Geoff reported in detail all the funny games and exercises they had done, and just seemed incredibly full of joy and exuberance, even though he was not always on task. He recalled all sorts of details, except names, and told me about all the funny things that happened. He also told me all about Henry V, how it is a real story of a real king and a real battle with the French. He'd watched the Brannagh version of the movie on Monday and retained a lot. But really sitting and talking about the man Prince Hal has transformed into was totally sticking to his little recollection cells in his brain, and he was into it.

So I know he was getting something out of this... we need to get him on track with the program. As usual, when it is something he is interested in, and he's on task, he is a rockstar. Open-ended stuff that is loosey goosey with not a lot for him to chew on, he loses interest quickly.

When some ADHD kids get distracted they just stare into space and dream... zone out. Geoff starts farting with his mouth, giggling madly to himself because he is thinking of this video, and he just basically loses a grip on what he should be doing. Becoming disruptive and silly is his favorite thing to do, and then when he is confronted, he gets pissed and argues with whomever it is that is confronting him -- other kids, teachers, or the play director. This puts distance between him and others; this makes him feel like an outcast and a "failure," and he often has a really difficult time getting back in the swing of things.

He and I had a huge long heart-to-heart last night, where he explained so much of what he was experiencing and told me that he would be better at it today.

Keri, as director and a mom, knows kids like Geoff. Really well. She wasn't there yesterday afternoon when he got into it deep with his behavior, so this morning we talked with her about how sometimes when he is bored or feels something doesn't apply to him, he gets restless and noisy. She had talked about the same thing with her staff, and we were all on the same page and agreed that someone would just take him out of the mix for a walk. She does the same with her own daughter -- someone goes with her, sometimes they do something totally different than the rest of the group. Geoff agreed that he would reach out to a staff member and say "I need a break, can we go for a walk?" And Keri and another counselor stated that they'd watch for Geoff to get to that breaking point, and then politely suggest they go for a walk...

I had big fears when I left that I'd be called at lunchtime to go pick him up.

When Geoff says he's going to do his best, sometimes he tries -- and it doesn't work out. I was sick to my stomach all day. Not because I want him to be a star on stage, but because I want him to experience something that I honestly believe he'll be good at and enjoy. And as far as other camps go, Keri has had a million kids like Geoff come through the rank and file, and they've been madly successful at what they are doing so I feel that this is a good thing. A very good thing. And my hopes were high, maybe too high, and maybe this isn't the place for him.

But reports this afternoon were glowing.

Matt told me that was spot on and they did a full read through of the play, and that Geoff had great emotion and passion. I asked Matt if he wasn't lying to me just to make me feel better after the last two days, and he laughed -- and I hugged him.

It almost made me cry. I was so relieved.

Initially, Geoff wanted to be Montjoy, the French messenger, because he really wanted to pretend to ride a horse while bringing messages to King Henry. He also liked the way Montjoy spoke to Henry before Agincourt. Which impressed me because that means he really paid the movie a great deal of attention.

But he was cast as Bardolph, one of Henry's men and an old friend from back in the day. These three friends; Nim, Pistol and Bardolph, carry over from the Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 plays. Nim and Pistol have some bad blood between them, because Nim once loved Nell and she married Pistol.

Geoff explains to me that Bardolph hates that his friends aren't getting along and tries to get them back together and happy again because they have to leave together to go fight in the war. The three of them try to run away before a big battle and are busted for it. They talk a good game of being brave soldiers for the king but really are a bunch of knuckleheads.

In the end, Bardolph is hanged for robbing churches. Henry cannot allow this kind of behavior, and even though they are old friends from his days as Prince Hal at the side of wine swilling John Falstaff, he has to execute his old drinking buddy friend for his crimes.

So Geoff gets to die a horrible death!

He wanted to know how they were going to stage this and I said he'd probably be brought off stage and out of sight and get to scream and then gag and be "dead" so Henry can deliver his speech about making sure that no dishonorable deeds are done, and nothing taken that isn't bought and paid for, as they march through France.

Geoff and I had a HUGE discussion on the way home tonight about forgiveness, and how perhaps Henry should have just forgiven his old friend or put him in jail or something... but that as a monarch trying to set a big example to all his men, he had to do what he did. And most likely didn't take joy in doing it at all.

So he's incredibly excited. And now that he knows who he is playing, and knows the story, and knows what is going on, I do hope he'll really get into the game. Please send him daily mojo.

I'm excited for Jess to come home (Tuesday! Yay Yay Yay!) because I'm hoping she will be willing to work with him on memorizing his lines... and will be happy for him in taking on this task.

She had said to me that she "didn't want him and his stupidness" coming to Rebel and "messing it all up" for her and for everyone. The fact that her first year was such a screaming success, with the two great roles in last summer's productions and the trip to London, she sees this as "hers."

Geoff has his football, she has her Shakespeare.

Well, I don't really see it that way and Shakespeare can teach Geoff a lot too, and Keri and her program are good for Geoff in ways that other summer camps are not. I'm hoping she will see that.

And on that note, I hope tomorrow is like today.

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