Fielding Project 1.0: Toddlers n’ Teens

Sunday, February 3

Minutes of Social Media: 4.5 hrs (v. bad!!! Had to log into my iPhone for email on Friday. Been binging ever since. Need to sell this thing!) Social Contact: Toddlers + Cast + Roommate + kids + Dad = a lot of people (v. good. Too good. Need to incubate in silence now). Pages Read: 0. Minutes Writing: 2 hours or more. Lost count (v. v. v. good).

On Saturday, I was hired to do some child-minding for a couple of artists working on Making of Treaty 4 at the Globe Theatre. They had a workshop over the weekend. So I was there and taking care of two of the CUTEST toddlers, L (2 or 3 yrs old) and H (1 or something). We played Smash-Toys-in-a-Car-Crash, Smash-Toys-in-a-Battle, Smash-Toys-Under-The-Foot-of-Massive-Spiderman, Smash-Toys-Under-Toddler’s-Foot, Flick-Coins-And-Smash-Them, Guess-This-Sound, Hide n’ Seek (with farm animal sounds), Horsie (I was the horse who did laps crawling on the floor while one of the toddlers yelled ‘FASTER!’ I did not move faster), PBS-Video-Games-Where-We-Coralled-Puppies-onto-Big-Buttons-That-Unlocked-A-Different-Room-Where-We-Coralled-Them-Again, Run-Around-The-Office, Pretend-To-Be-a-Box-Office-Person-and-Get-Mad-at-The-Babysitter-When-She-Won’t-Let-You-Play-With-the-Headset-that-Costs-Hundreds-Of-Dollars, Hide-in-Somebodies-Dog-Kennel, Run-Around-The-Conference-Room, Spin-in-Spinny-Chairs, Build-a-Tunnel-Fort-Out-of-Styrofoam-Mats, Throw-Tennis-Balls, Build-a-Baby-Booby-Trap, Pretend-To-Be-Old-People-Who-Use-Giant-Green-Crayons-as-Canes, Get-Mad-At-Babysitter-When-She-Won’t-Let-You-Push-Baby-In-Prop-Wheelchair-Without-A-Speedlimit-or-Seatbelt, Blow-Fuzz-Balls-on-the-Floor, Tag (I don’t like this game because the toddler doing it decided to play it the moment I needed to find the toque of the other toddler which was in the green room), Limbo-With-the-Hugest-Prop-Bamboo-Stick-I’ve-Ever-Seen-Which-The-Toddler-and-I-Swiped-From-The-Rehearsal-Hall and Run-On-The-Conference-Room-Tables (which I did not approve of but he was too fast for me to catch and too stubborn to come down. So I stood there saying, ‘Not funny.’ x 50).

The last time I played like this in the Globe Theatre’s studios was when I was in their Actor Conservatory. The first module was Physical Theatre. We were each given a Shakespearean sonnet which are my favourite. Always have. Always will. I was given Sonnet 89, “Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault…”

We would spend hours doing movement and voice to wake up our bodies. The goal was to get Shakespeare’s words moving from our heads to our hearts so that every fibre of our being could say his words with sincerity. It takes a considerable amount of work. We were learning how to release tension, become aware of our habits onstage (we all do funny things when in front of an audience. Actors have to learn how to not do those things and it’s not as easy as it sounds to quit walking a certain way or talking a certain way when you’ve done it for so long) and change them.

Our voice instructor had us do exercises to get the words “in” by saying each line of the sonnet walking in a straight line with intention. Once we hit the end of the line or  punctuation, we’re supposed to change directions. We saw it as Shakespeare’s way of beginning a new thought. The speaker is saying something new. Discovering something new. Realizing something new. Every punctuation reveals something new and there needs to be something different about it than the thought previous.

Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, (SWITCH DIRECTIONS. LIFT YOUR INFLECTION AT THE END OF EACH LINE. DON’T DROP THE ENERGY) And I will comment upon that offense; (SWITCH. UPWARD INFLECTION. DRIVE TO THE END OF THE LINE. BREATHE) Speak of my lameness, (SWITCH. FIND THE IAMBIC PENTAMETRE. BREATHE) and I straight will halt, (SWITCH. NEW THOUGHT. BREATHE) against thy reasons making no defense. (SWITCH. BREATHE. NEW THOUGHT. UPWARD INFLECTION) Thou canst not, (SWITCH) love, (SWITCH) disgrace me half so ill…

Little H was only there for a couple hours while her dad went for errands. She adored L and whatever he did she wanted to do, too. Horsie? Me too. Throw balls? Me too. Run around like dinosaurs? Me too. L struggled with sharing and sometimes pulled toys away from H. But H never cried. Never pouted or got mad. Was just happy for the company. I’ve never met a more agreeable human — baby or adult– in my life. When it was time for her to go, her dad told her to wave goodbye. Instead, she gave me this smile of contentment and it was all the reward I could ask for.

Though L was rarely motivated to do anything I suggested or play any game I liked, he was extremely compassionate and helpful. If he knew I needed help, he’d leave his toys and see what I needed. He also apologizes so wonderfully after whacking me on the head with the extremely large bamboo stick, and patted my head till it felt better. On our first day, I told him I had to go to the bathroom after a big coffee. He said okay. Took me to the ladies room, waited for me by the sink on a stool, turned on the tap, pumped out some soap and rubbed my hands together to ensure I did it proper (I couldn’t even hide my smile at his determination for my cleanliness).

“There,” he says. “Better.”

Sometimes I think he was actually there to take care of me and keep me entertained so I didn’t think of men or unrequited love. By the end of the day, L had had enough of my lame amusement, walked straight into the rehearsal hall, and sat in his Dad’s lap during their Talking Circle. He paid me no mind. L was not about to move.

“You good?” I whisper to the dad.

“Are we good?” he asked the director. The director nods.

“Thanks,” he said.

“You’re welcome,” I say. L snuggled into his dad while one of the cast members lit a match over a bowl and held it to a bundle of sage or maybe sweetgrass. I grabbed my jacket and left with a smile that I couldn’t wipe off.

Monday, February 4

Minutes of Social Media on iPhone: 0 (excluding s.m. on laptop. Doesn’t count). Social Contact: Roommate, kids and caaaaats (perfect) Pages Read: 50? (extremely proud). Minutes Writing: 1 hr. (not bad).

I took the day off from subbing to recuperate from Toddler Duty. Nilee bought my iPhone for her eldest, M, who’s in grade 8. He recently started “dating” a girl at school (but refers to her as his ‘not-girlfriend’). Since his phone broke months ago, he’s been using Nilee’s which leaves her without her lifeline for hours at a time. Every hour or so, Nilee insists M give her her phone back.

“A couple more minutes, Mom.”

“NO. NOW.”

Needless to say, she’s been looking for a phone for him so that she could have hers back. And I was more than happy to oblige.

Apparently, on M’s first “date”, he and his friends took their “not-girlfriends” to the Rainbow Cinemas (“We have to pay. It’s important. We just need something we can afford.”). They took the cutest photo together. She hugged him and leaned her head against his chest. I swooned when Nilee showed me the photo. I guess he gave her his sweater to wear when she was cold. When he got home to debrief with his mom, he kept smelling it and said, “Mom, smell my sweater… It smells like her!”

Both Nilee and I want boyfriends like M. She’s so proud and my hope in the male species has been restored.

Tuesday, February 5

Minutes of Social Media: 1hr?? (v. good)  Social Contact: Cats, roomies and students/staff. Pages Read: 0 (lame). Minutes Writing: 10 min. (so-so).

G, Nilee’s youngest (11 yrs), tattled on M this morning. I guess now that he has his own iPhone, he and his “not-girlfriend” fell asleep on FaceTime together.

“All night?!?!” exclaimed Nilee.

“No!” said M.

“Yeah!” says G, “They were sleeping on Facetime!”

I know that I shouldn’t encourage this but that has got to be the cutest thing I have ever heard! I am so proud that my former cell phone has a part to play in this lovers’ tale.

As I left for my subbing job, I caught Nilee’s eye and we both tried to hide our smiles of delight. She covered it with her blanket on the couch and I bit my lips while the corners of my mouth gave me away.

“Have a good day, guys!” I say.

“You, too!”