Am-Dram: Junior Edition — Ad-libbing Addiction
The second production of The Borrowers is over and the kids did very well tonight. The crowd wasn’t as large and there were the rude ones who wanted to talk all through the performance, but the actors and crew did a great job of keeping everything going as smoothly as they could.
Youngest Son, however, did get a talking-to on the way home. He did a really good job and is one of the few actors who doesn’t have a microphone but you can hear him throughout the theatre. Sadly, he’s got too much of Husband and me in him. We both get bored easily when things are too easy and we both have a very dark and dry sense of humor. That being said, Youngest Son almost doesn’t stand a chance. He has friends at school and hangs out with some as much as possible. Most of them are in band and/or theatre as well. But he is known for being annoying. I even saw a post on his Facebook page that said she thought he was nice but that he’s too annoying and too much of a smart aleck in band class. And some teachers report that he can be irritating in class when he gets bored. I tell them to keep him busy and they won’t have a problem with it but they never listen to me.
One bad habit he’s picked up is ad-libbing when something isn’t working right. He doesn’t go way off on a tangent that isn’t related to what’s going on, but he’s quick with a response or, especially onstage, ready to grab the spotlight until whatever is causing the problem can be remedied. For example, in class one day his teacher was upset at the amount of noise the students were making. She asked, “Why do I hear talking?” and Youngest Son, without missing a beat, said, “Because you have ears!” (For the record, he didn’t get in trouble for that — just told to “shut up.”) During the performance tonight, I could see the wheels of his mind turning when one character skipped a section in which Youngest Son was supposed to exit the stage. He stayed out there trying to look like he belonged in the scene until he finally heard a pause long enough for him to yell, “Yes! I’ll be running away, and with this wooden spoon I don’t know where it came from!” as he grabbed a prop another actor had dropped and made his way off the stage.
During a scene change, he and another actor were bringing out one of those wooden cable spools that they decorated to look like a spool of thread. The other boy started arguing over which side went up when, a little to loudly, Youngest Son said, “It really doesn’t matter what side goes up! No one can tell. Now make yourself useful,” as he handed the boy a basket to put onstage. I was embarrassed. Husband was laughing himself silly. The audience thought it was funny, too. Great. That’s all he needs — positive reinforcement from total strangers.
At least last night and tonight another actor made his entrance on-time. Youngest Son told me that if he’d have had to wait a while he was trying to think of something to do to fill the quiet space and all he could think of was reciting Eddie Izzard’s “Bees and Wasps” bit from his stand-up act. I told husband this and he, of course, laughed hysterically as he imagined our 13-year-old onstage reciting a monologue asking questions like, “Do earwigs make chutney? Do spiders make gravy?” And, yes, in a way I’m glad he was thinking of something to do — but this is a kid who once he gets started has a hard time stopping. He loves the limelight and isn’t afraid of too much when trying to get it.
So, I can’t say that all of this comes as a surprise, but after the ad-lib last night and the continuation tonight, I’m almost afraid of what will happen tomorrow night on their last performance.
Almost….but I’m still going to watch.