Haven’t done one of these stories in a while.
Back in January, I told the story of working my kids (who are now 10, 8 and 6) through Julie Taymor’s Tempest on DVD. Basically we’d do 10 minutes at a time, with me muting and pausing as appropriate, to explain what’s going on.
Well, we lost the momentum and it’s been awhile since I’ve popped that one back in. Every now and then the kids would ask about it, but it’s one of those things you need to be in the mood for (which normally translates to “Just Daddy and the kids”, since my wife’s not a strong believer in using the minutes before bedtime as a teaching opportunity).
Well tonight the girls started cheerleading camp and it lasts an hour longer than the boy’s karate practice so we had some time to kill and in went The Tempest. We start with the “Thou liest!” scene, as Ariel breaks up the jolly band of “pirates” Stefano, Trinculo and Caliban.
“Is that the guy who never stops talking?” my geeklet asks, as Stefano enters the scene.
“I suppose so,” I say to the unusual question, “He does talk a lot.”
Enter Trinculo. “Is that the guy that doesn’t stop talking?” he asks again.
“Well, yeah, I suppose Trinculo talks more than Stefano…”
“But where is the white guy?”
“The white guy, the white guy who never stops talking.”
At this point Ariel’s spirit pops up behind Trinculo to yell, “Thou liest!” and I realize that in this interpretation, Ariel is entirely white.
“Oh, him?” I ask. “Is that the white guy you’re talking about?” I don’t really think of Ariel as never shutting up, but he’s clearly all white. My geeklet does not seem satisfied.
Cut, a few minutes later, to king Alonso and his followers wandering around the island (and about to stumble across a magical banquet). “There’s the white guy that never stops talking!” my son shouts, pointing at the screen.
At Gonzalo. With his white hair. The guy who never stops talking.
My 6 year old son, having not seen this Shakespeare movie in over 6 months, remembers Gonzalo – a character arguably so minor that I’ve seen a production of this play where he was completely excised (and I wasn’t happy about it, I like him).
Wait, it gets better.
Cut to Prospera handing over Miranda to Ferdinand (and, luckily, I do not have to explain “virgin knot” to anybody). My son asks, “Now, I know that she’s never seen another boy and that’s why she fell in love with him, but has the boy ever seen another girl? Then how come he fell in love with her?”
….ummm…..ahhh……is this really happening? Is my 6 yr old jumping back into a lesson on one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays right where we left off 6 months ago?
These were just two examples. I was also quizzed on the nature of Ariel’s invisibility and whether he was *always* invisible (except to Prospera), or merely chose to be invisible most of the time.
I am well and truly blown away, I have to admit. Is it possible that my kids are actually paying attention to this stuff?
I love nights like this.