There are so many exciting things going on with Helen right now, but since I have brain fog from the Musinex D I’ve been taking to deal with this cold, I’m going to keep this entry short and sweet.
One of the things I am most pleased with as far as the casting we did this week goes, is that we managed to find a group of kids that have fantastic acting and singing chops, but who haven’t lost that “real kid” earnestness that is so endearing, engaging and pivotal to the success of this show.
A large part of Helen deals with being a “tween.” Tweens, tweensters, tweendom; it’s all poignant to me, because even though the term hadn’t been invented when I was a tweenster, I would have happily stayed in tweendom forever, avoiding adolescence at all costs. And by working with lots of tweens I have managed to hold onto the earnestness that is so prevalent among them. I’ve read and relished all the Harry Potter books, I devoured the (somewhat horrible, but intensely pleasurable) Twilight Series, and I can sit with a group of my students and chat about Justin Beiber and the Miley Cyrus without feeling like the old lady in the bunch.
Tweendom is so precious. It’s a time when childhood innocence, ebullience and idealism are right on the cusp of being transformed into cynicism, surliness and eye-rolling. Some tweens look like they are eight years old, some twenty-five…and even more fascinating, the same child can look and act eight one day and then twenty-five the next. But perhaps the most inherently dramatic and bittersweet part of being a tween is: no matter what the facts are, they believe anything is possible; wishes can come true if you chant to Goddess Athena, and things just have to end happily ever after.
Maybe I am so drawn to tweens, tween literature and tweendom because I haven’t completely gotten over that belief. I don’t chant to Goddess Athena, but I do chant. I know, too well, that things don’t always end happily ever after, but still can’t help myself from believing that anything is possible.
I can’t wait to get in a room with my earnest script, my earnest composer, and my earnest group of 11 incredibly talented kids. Who knows? Maybe Goddess Athena will grant our wish.