- Paperback: 230 pages
- Publisher: Familius; First edition (August 26, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1939629233
- ISBN-13: 978-1939629234
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,408,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me that Hollywood Couldn't Paperback – August 26, 2014
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"Ryane brings a wry tone to this highly enjoyable memoir....It's inspiring how Ryane helped these kids step up to Shakespeare, and their journal excerpts are often hilarious....Overall, a bravura performance. A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans." -Kirkus Reviews (featured review)
"I found myself moved to tears by one sentence and laughing out loud at the next....Here's my recommendation: Read Teaching Will. I promise you'll have a good time -- and you might even be inspired by an urge to try something you've never attempted." --The Huffington Post
"A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans. Overall, a bravura performance."
"In her lively memoir reaching back to moments in her own acting career, Ryane manages both to be funny and not take herself too seriously, though the respect she instilled in the children is remarkable: respect for her direction, for each other, and for the genius of Shakespeare."
"Sings with honesty, adventure, humility, and humor. The book is a joy."
—HELEN HUNT, Oscar Winner
"What a terrific story, funny and brave! Bravissima!"
—LEN CARIOU, Tony Award Winner
"Truly magical. I laughed out loud. Then I cried."
—CHRISTINE ESTABROOK, Drama Desk Award Winner
"Hilarious, tender, and instructive. She deserves our standing ovation."
—TOM HAYDEN, Author and Teacher
Top customer reviews
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Alice Orr – Author of the memoir Lifted to the Light: A Story of Struggle and Kindness – www.amazon.com/author/aliceorr
The story is compelling. Ms. Ryane (the author, and what she is called by her students) yanks us into her experience of forming an after-school program of bringing classic theatre to a group of grammar school aged children in an inner city area of Los Angeles. The challenges of this monumental undertaking are interwoven with the author's own childhood conflicts and struggle with pursuing her acting career.
The story is beautifully written and emotionally captivating. I laughed at the antics of this young group of would-be thespians VS the neophyte 'teacher'. I was heartbroken when I learned of each child's difficult home life that created self defeating behavior that 'Ms. Ryane' was so determined to overcome. I cried with the many small victories and final triumphs of both student and teacher.
While reading this memoir, I reflected on my own life. Although the author's (and children's) experiences are quite different from my own, there is a universality that connects us all. In TEACHING WILL, the teacher teaches the student, the student teaches the teacher, and they both teach the reader.
Mel Ryane, a classically trained actress with no formal teacher training, decides to volunteer at her local public school by forming a "Shakespeare Club" to teach third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders the works of the Bard. The task seems gargantuan: many of the kids come from non-English-speaking homes, quite a few are there simply to avoid after-school activities or care-givers they dislike even more, and discipline appears to be a non-existent concept. As Ryane becomes increasingly frustrated by their chaotic attempts at rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream and her inexperience as a teacher, she questions her motivations and level of delusion. Intertwined throughout is the heartbreaking story of the rise and fall of her own acting career. The two threads are skillfully woven, showing us the depth of her commitment to the theatre and how acting transformed her as a child and young adult; a transformation she would love to pass on to her unruly charges, if only she could get them to listen to her for longer than three seconds.
The story builds beautifully as she chronicles the weekly challenges: from musical-chairs casting to playground bullying to her ongoing search for new ways to cajole, bribe, and ultimately inspire the kids into compliance. But as these budding thespians grow to accept and respect her guidance (and each other), the magic Ryane had hoped to impart to her Shakespeare Club members comes back to her a hundred-fold.
Ryane's voice throughout Teaching Will is smart, honest, and laugh-out-loud funny. Her willingness to reveal her own shortcomings and naiveté in taking on such an ambitious project provides many of the funniest moments in the book, as do the Club members' curiosity about Elizabethan times and Ryane's connection to them:
Ryane: "Shakespeare lived over four hundred and forty years ago."
Club member: "Did you know him?"
Unlike the kids, my attention was unwavering from the very first meeting of the Shakespeare Club—so much so that I read the entire book in one sitting, a rare occurrence for me (and tears were shed, I admit it). What Ms. Ryane and her band of merry players manage to achieve by the end of the story is extraordinary; what Ryane achieves in the telling is no less so: a richly-textured, compelling memoir brimming with humor and humanity.
Mr. Shakespeare no doubt is delighted with this book and Ms. Ryane's use of the magic his words have wrought on these young minds!
Most recent customer reviews
I tried to pick up this book 4 different times in the last few months,...Read more