Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Teaching requires that I be both actor and comedian; it brings out the vanity in me, that slow creeping self-importance that I grow secretly in some quiet corner of my mind. But who am I kidding? It's barely beneath the skin and needs little encouragement to burst from my chest like some alien parasite.

I like to lecture, to stand at the front of the room and lean out, eyeing my audience, the world my stage; to teach, to move about the room with a certain sense of power, to see those poor, hapless babes trembling at my every last inflection. They prove to be a fantastic (if captive) audience, eager to listen, ready to forgive my sometimes tripping tongue, to laugh when I pretend to be mortally wounded by their morning silence and fall to the floor, clutching my side, aghast that I should be so cruelly struck down in the prime of my youth. I suppose it helps that our interests converge on several levels--superheroes and K-pop and Chuck Norris, even the odd video game.

For my sixth grade class I find myself donning a variety of hats and accents in an effort to bring to life the fictional characters on the page. As we worked our way through The Cay by Theodore Taylor, a book about a white boy and an old, black man who overcome their differences to survive on a deserted cay in the Caribbean, I was in the ridiculous position of having to speak in a velvety, musical calypso. "Dat be true, young bahss. Dat be true." 

The whole idea is laughable. What do I know of the Caribbean anyway, let alone its voice? I'm Swedish, I grew up in Singapore, I attended an international school with nary a Central American islander in sight. Despite these odds, I was not deterred. Heartily dared, half won, I always say. And so I thought of Sebastian the Crab and pushed on. 

Again, my time has come to shine. As we only have a month left of class, I am reading through C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, and so far I have done the voices for Digory Kirke, Polly Plummer, Uncle Andrew, and Aunt Letty. Queen Jadis comes most naturally to me, of course, as it is closest to my own speech: "Now; slave, how long am I to wait for my chariot?"
I shake my fist in the air and challenge little Lucas Agnir in the front row with a stare. He looks away.

The only real challenge lies in the the collection of voices of the irate Londoner who have stopped to view the curious scene of Queen Jadis and the crashed carriage; but as a highly talented actor I find only grim satisfaction in conquering Lewis's fine work:

     "That's the woman, that's the woman," cried the fat man, pointing at Jadis. "Do your duty, Constable. Hundreds and thousands of pounds' worth she's taken out of my shop. Look at that rope of pearls round her neck. That's mine. And she's given me a black eye too, what's more."

     "That she 'as, guv'nor," said one of the crowd. "And as lovely a black eye as I'd wish to see. Beautiful bit of work that must 'ave been. Gor! ain't she strong then!"

     "You ought to put a nice raw beefsteak on it, Mister, that's what it wants," said a butcher's boy.

You can just imagine the beauty of it all--me manhandling my way through the best English accent this side of Cheapside. I knew watching all those episodes of Inspector George Gently would pay off eventually. Hats off to you, John Bacchus.

Yes, Guv?

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