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.
Hear Mel Ryane discuss her new book with Lisa Napoli of KCRW, Los Angeles:
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.” ~Publisher’s Weekly
Oh! For a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention! Mel Ryane is that fiery muse for a group of mischievous kids in a L.A. public school. What a terrific story, funny and brave! Shakespeare gives his actors a glimpse into their humanity, teaches them patience, and fosters their courage. Mel Ryane does the same for her wayward students, and they return the favor. Bravissima! How do we make Shakespeare Club mandatory for every school in North America? ~Len Cariou, Tony Award Winner, Member of the Theatre Hall of Fame