Shem and TJ Chat About Theater

Shem: I can’t help it. I arrive at play practice early. I have my lines memorized. I—

TJ: Don’t have a life.

Shem: What d’ya mean?

TJ: You can’t live and eat theater.

Shem: Why not?

TJ: There’s got to be other things too.

Shem: Sure. I eat. Love pizza. (shrugs) Work in the apple orchard sometimes.

TJ: And for fun—?

Shem: Dragoon’s Palace is the place I want to be. Unless, of course, it’s the last two weeks before a show. Then I want to be at McBride Theater. Nowhere else.

TJ: Ah, Shembo.

Shem: Don’t start that Shembo stuff again.

TJ: I can’t believe you’re forgetting the important thing in our lives right now.

Shem: You’re not talking about girls, are you?

TJ: Nope.

Shem: (thinks) Christmas auditions?

TJ: NO! You know… (looks over his shoulder making sure no one is listening) Time Spinner.

Shem: Oh, that.

TJ: Oh, that. Oh, that!

(Shem laughs)

TJ: So…what are we going to do about it?

Shem: Nothing.

TJ: Nothing? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Shem: Why? Are you feeling like puking all over someone?

TJ: (grimaces) Not especially.

Shem: Well, then, it’s settled.

TJ: You’re no fun.

Shem: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire’s Story

Hi. I’m Claire. I’m supposed to tell you a story. But, instead of telling you one of my stories, perhaps I’ll share something about these actors I’ve gotten to know at Green Bluff Creative Academy.

Did you hear they were doing a great big production called Island of Shalamar? Well, I went to Opening Night and the other three shows, and let me tell you, it was one fantastical production. Shem did great. I mean, his voice sounded kingly and everything. And Debz— Wow! She looked fabulous. Like a real queen. She even walked regally.

They convinced me I was catching a glimpse of real life in the royal palace of Shalamar. Now, Shalamar is my kind of place, because I love writing medieval stories. But if I were writing this tale, I would have included a white horse. He’d swoop through the air and save the day. But that’s just me. I like fantasies. I enjoy writing about taming dragons and capturing bad guys, and beautiful white horses. You see, I’ve been writing a book about . . . well, I said I wasn’t going to tell you about that. Not today.

So, I had this dream. I know, a dream is just a dream, right? Have you ever had one of those dreams that seems totally real? Scary real? That was me. I dreamed, or I think I dreamed, about going back into the past on a time machine Professor Plunkmeyer built and left under the stage at Green Bluff Academy.

In the dream, I hid in the time cart under a big coat so the professor wouldn’t see me. I heard Shem and TJ went back in time—and were lost. And because I loooove history, I wanted to try it too. But do you know what I do when I spin around on a crazy death-defying spinning ride?


Now, in the dream, Shem and TJ were crazy surprised to see me in York, England. All I wanted to do was look at everything and draw as much as I could, so I’d never forget. But when I woke up back in my bed, I was so disappointed. Only a dream? Sigh.

When I got to school and talked to Shem and TJ … we all wondered … could it be real? Or was it a dream of all dreams like we’d never forget?

Shem’s Theater Tip #1

You’ve got to open your mouth when you speak. Yeah, I know, everybody opens their mouth when they talk, right? But haven’t you seen how some people mumble with their mouth barely open? Almost as if they have their hand over their lips.

If you’ve got something to say, open your mouth and speak up. Don’t cover the sound from escaping.

Instead, open your mouth and talk from your diaphragm. What’s a diaphragm? Well, here’s a good trick. Put your hand flat on your belly. Now, say “Ho-ho-ho” loudly. Your hand should rise and fall with the words.

Try it again, say the words softly, then strong, pulsing your words out. This is a good exercise to see if you’re talking with strength or not. Now, open your mouth and speak anything you want, using your diaphragm muscles. Or belt out “Ho-ho-ho” and see who’s listening. That’s always fun.

Remember, speak loud, strong, and confident!

Question for Cammie

Do you like being in production with your brother?

Cammie laughs loudly.

Would you want to be in a show with your show-off brother? I mean, he’s so competitive about getting the part he wants. He can barely eat or sleep days before auditions. Then after auditions? He clenches his jaw and gets a super-scary intense-looking face, and he just sits there brooding.

We live on an apple orchard, and we both have chores to do. But he wants to sit there and think about what he could have done better at auditions. Not me. I go to auditions, try out the best I can, then pretty much, I forget about it until Monday morning when Mrs. Dragoon posts the Cast List on the theater’s red door. 

But once practices start, I don’t mind having my brother in the show with me. We both love Youth Theater, and it’s fun to see him become another character. I had a blast playing the part of Jester in Island of Shalamar. 

I can’t wait until next spring when I’ll try out for the next GBCA production. I’ve heard it might even be a western play. In the meantime, I hear there’s a Christmas play going on for our youth group at church. Maybe, I’ll try out for that.

Debz and Claire Chat

Debz: How’s your story coming along?

Claire: Good. I decided to put you in my book.

Debz: What?

Claire: Since Shem, TJ, Mista, and I are in it, I thought you should be there too.

Debz: Thanks, but who’s Mista?

Claire: Oh, she’s, uh, well, you know. I named the book after her.

Debz: A fictional character, right?

Claire: You could say that. Kind of like . . . she’s out of this world.

Debz: Yeah, I like characters in books or plays like that. You know, the ones who really stick with you and make you think about their world.

Claire: Mista is just such a character. In fact, her name’s in the title: A Time for Mista.

Debz: I remember you telling us that. Is she a princess or something?

Claire: No, she’s an ordinary girl. Shem says she kind of looks like me.

Debz: How would he know?

Claire: Oh, well, I mean, in the story, you know. (laughs self-consciously)

Debz: And Shem is …

Claire: Shemtron. The hero. He’s a knight. Stands for honor and justice and all that good stuff.

Debz: Shemtron. (giggles) I can’t wait to read it.

Claire: Yeah, that’s what everybody says.

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