Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn't
What happens when an idealist volunteers to introduce Shakespeare to a group of unruly kids? Bedlam. Tears. And hard lessons learned. Convinced that children can relate to Shakespeare's themes--power, revenge, love--Mel Ryane launches The Shakespeare Club at a public school. Teaching Will is a riotous cautionary tale of high hopes and goodwill crashing into the realities of classroom chaos.
Every week Mel encounters unexpected comedy and drama as she and the children struggle toward staging a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Woven through this fish-out-of-water tale is Mel's own story of her childhood aspirations, her acting identity, and the heartbreaking end of her onstage career.
In the schoolyard, Mel finds herself embroiled in jealousy and betrayal worthy of Shakespeare's plots. Fits of laughter alternate with wiping noses as she and the kids discover a surprising truth: they need each other if they want to face an audience and triumph. Teaching Will is an uplifting story of empowerment for dreamers and realists alike.
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About the Author
Following a distinguished career as a classically trained actor onstage and in film and television, Mel Ryane has found a new artistic home in the written word with her memoir, Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn't.
Mel became a professional actor during her teens in her native Canada, then followed her career to New York City and to theatres across North America. After applying her skills to coaching actors on major studio and network projects, Mel was accepted into the Directing Workshop for Women at the prestigious American Film Institute. She subsequently wrote a screenplay that advanced to the semifinal round in the Motion Picture Academy's Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.
Mel travels across the country teaching From Page to Podium: Reading Your Work Aloud, a workshop that helps writers find their public speaking voice. She also offers school workshops introducing Shakespeare to students. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their dog and cat.
"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."
-- Publishers Weekly
"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
"I found myself moved to tears by one sentence and laughing out loud at the next. I promise you'll have a good time--and you might even be inspired by an urge to try something you've never attempted."
-- Huffington Post (featured review)