The next day was the first day of acting lessons. The campers woke up at 6:00 a.m. that morning so they could get cleaned up, have their breakfast, and begin practicing monologues and such. Martha went around each person's cabin, waking them up with her bullhorn. "Wake up, America," she said into the bullhorn as each of the kids reluctantly and gradually awakened.
Allie also woke up, ready to take on a new responsibility in engaging young minds. She got up and went to wake the other kids up as well, and greeted Martha along the way. "Good morning, Martha," she said.
"Good morning, Allie," said Martha cheerily. "Did you have a good sleep last night?"
"Slept like an angel."
"Good to hear, darling. You'll need lots of energy to deal with these young ones." Martha gave her a wink, and Allie just groaned with dissatisfaction.
The dining room was rather noisy for the morning, and it's mostly because the kids were interacting loudly with each other. With the exception of the bickering twin boys and their little sister who mouthed off to everyone else, there was a pretty friendly atmosphere between all the campers. Allie was a keen observer. After breakfast, all the kids arrived in the auditorium for practice, as announced by Martha. And Allie was there to help, as usual.
Martha cleared her throat and began speaking, "Ladies and gentlemen, we are ready to enter the world of theater. You will be paired up to read aloud some scenes from the books I will give out, and Allie here will be the assistant who will guide you. And I know there are better things you would rather do with yourselves over the summer than coming here to boring old summer camp---I know, I know, the horror!---but just for your sake and mine, please try your best to get along with each other as well as possible, I'm suggesting. So now that we got that clear, are there any questions at all?"
There was a moment of dead silence. Everyone was forced to get along with each other, whether they liked it or not. Then Martha said, "Okay, I suppose I've cleared all that up. Now, for your groups........" She started handing out the books and began to pair each kid up. When she got to the twin boys, she decided to do the worst thing possible and pair them up. "Jeff, you'll be paired with........Jed."
"I don't wanna be paired with Jed," Jeff said contemptuously.
"Same with me," said Jed as Jeff stuck his tongue out at him.
"Well, guess what? I didn't want to become a 47-year-old divorcee living with three cats and four broke children, but sometimes we've gotta deal with what we've got." Martha had the tendency to be a little sarcastic sometimes, quite similar to the bratty young sister of the twin boys, whom she paired with another girl named Violet. "Georgia, you'll be paired with........Violet."
Violet, who was 100 times nicer than Georgia will ever be, made the effort to become her friend. "Hi, my name is Violet," she said, reaching her hand out to shake Georgia's hand.
Georgia was in no mood to make nice at all. "You utter a single word to me, you'll forever lose your chance to use your mouth for anything at all," said Georgia threateningly.
Violet immediately became intimidated as Allie went up to them, ready to give a hand at any given moment. After everyone else was paired up, Martha announced, "Now everyone, please open up to page 3.........."
Which they did. Allie then said to Violet in a whisper, "Is everything alright?"
Violet shook her head. "I wanna switch with you," she whispered.
"I'm sorry; I'm only here to help Martha," Allie said to her. "It's part of my job."
Violet seemed a little devastated by that. "I understand."
Georgia then shushed them both. "Shh, we're gonna read now."
Allie could see how rude and sassy Georgia was, therefore didn't bother to remark anything, or risk ruining her good name. As the days went by and became longer and hotter, Allie used her spare time away from the kids to write letters to everybody, such as her parents, Quincy, Betty Jane, Laura, Mary-Anne, Ms. Hazel, and even her friends back in Boston. She'd written to each person each day, telling them about her adventures in working at summer camp and all that, and they'd all replied back to her wishing her good luck and hoping that all was well. The rest of the camp days went by with Allie struggling to get all the kids to get along and listening to their personal issues, while also getting them to learn more about acting and such. At the end of the month, the kids were doing their own production of Romeo & Juliet, only with a more positive ending that seemed more appropriate. Allie learned that it was no easy task to counsel a summer camp, but at least it was something worth keeping her quite busy during the summer, aside from opening up her beach club like she planned.
Eventually, it was the week of the play, and rehearsals have been intense. But despite it all, Allie still had faith in the kids that they would be their very best. A few hours before the play, many parents started showing up to camp, eager to watch their children in the play. In the girls' dressing room, the girls were each getting into their costumes, and Dawn was playing the role of Lady Capulet, who was mother of Juliet, played by Georgia. Allie saw Dawn in her costume, and smiled and said, "You're looking great for Juliet's mother."
Dawn sighed and said, "Too bad I have to make complete eye contact with that little snot. I swear to God, if I have to put up with the likes of that demon spawn some more, I'm gonna........."
"Dawn, just be happy, okay? Today's the final day. It's the big day, you know. Once tomorrow morning comes, you'll all be off on your own little adventures. So just try to make the most of it while you can."
"She's impossible to work with, Allie," said Dawn. "I'm older than her, and I have more maturity sense than she does. In fact, I'm the oldest one here, so I have the most maturity level out of everyone here." She said that loudly enough to emphasize her point.
Another girl in the dressing room, who was playing the role of Juliet's Nurse, scoffed and said, "Yeah, sure you do."
"All right, that's enough." Allie was firm now. "I've gone through a lot of trouble for the past twenty-nine days to get every single one of you to get along with each other. This play will really blow if we don't get it together and put our differences aside. Nobody's better than anybody, and nobody's worse than anybody. You're all just amateurs---you're beginners, learners, and the best part is, you're all learning together. Isn't that the way the show business world works---learning to interact with your co-stars? We're all in this together, so please try to find it in your heart to become a little nicer to each other just for one more day, and then you can go about the rest of your summer not having to put up with our faces and such anymore."
The other girls thought about it for a moment. Allie was referring to all the kids in general, and she was a great motivational speaker. Dawn then said, "Allie's right. Yes, this is some of us at our first time here at summer camp, but let's just pretend to like each other so we can get this all done and over with. Besides, camp is only once a year. It's not like it's every day. So learn to suck it up, or lose it." Allie winked at her and gave her a high-five.
"Okay, you're right," said Georgia. The other girls muttered in agreement.
"I need to talk to you," Allie said, pointing to Georgia.
"Me?" Georgia asked.
"Come over here." Allie waved her little finger to her. Georgia came up to her.
"What is it, Allie?"
"Why are you being so disrespectful? All throughout camp, you've been nothing but a rude, nasty little gal who needs to learn some manners. Even your brothers can't stand you for one minute."
Georgia scoffed. "What would they know? They're so absorbed in each other's little nitpicks, they completely forget that I even exist in their lives!"
Allie suddenly realized that Georgia was a misunderstood young girl. "Are you having problems at home?" she asked.
"Are you sure you want me telling you this stuff?"
"I need to know, Georgia. The play starts in an hour, and I want your parents to be proud to see you, their little girl, up on stage, knocking them dead. You know, you're the star of the play; you're supposed to be more excited than that. Juliet has a sunny personality."
"That's 'cause she's only in love," said Georgia. Then she sighed and said, "I always have to put up with Jeff and Jed getting at each other's throats all the time. I can't even read my book or write in my diary in privacy due to their constant war of words. That's why I sneak out of the house sometimes---going to the library and such, the beach, whatever. Also, they're so absorbed in each other, they don't even stop to ask how I feel every once in a while. They also drag me into their stupid little boy problems. One time, Jeff even asked me to be the judge on whether or not Jed really picked his nose. I mean, really? How do they expect me to know that kind of stuff? I wasn't even around for that!"
Allie couldn't help but chuckle. It was a slightly amusing story, but nonetheless a serious problem. "My point is," continued Georgia, "even my mom always forces me to 'bond' with them. I can't even last a minute or two with them! And they can't even last a minute or two without insulting each other. They're even like this at school---yeah, I go to the same school as them. Now my mom and dad have forced me to come here to camp with those two, and I would have loved to come here, had it been just only me instead. But no, they had to force those two dumbheads to tag along as well. My life is now over, Allie!"
Allie felt sorry for her. "Wow, Georgia," she said. "I........I don't know what to say. I mean, I'm sorry for what you're going through."
"You wouldn't even understand what it feels like to be forced into doing something," said Georgia, "or getting the feeling that no one understands your problems."
"Georgia, I have to say, even though I'm an only child---thank God---I can't really put myself in your place," Allie said, "but I do understand how it makes you feel. That's still no excuse for you to go around treating others with disrespect, though. I'm pretty sure your brothers are adorable children at heart and they care about you as much as they care about each other, deep down. But your family is coming over to watch the play, and they expect to see that you and your brothers are gotten well along. Why not just sugar-coat it for them?"
Georgia smiled a little and said, "No use trying to sugarcoat it now, huh? They're probably so busy competing with each other for the spotlight, they won't even remember to congratulate me or even yet, tell me to break a leg."
"Well, even if they don't say it, you know they truly mean it, Georgia. And I'm gonna tell you to break a leg and have fun out there. And when the show's over, when you find Violet, you go up to her and apologize for the way you've been treating her. Is that a deal?" She affectionately ruffled Georgia's hair.
"Deal." Georgia said, then she gave Allie a hug. "Thanks for having faith in me, Allie."
Allie gave her a hug as well. "Don't mention it, sweetie. I have faith in every single one of you, especially the boys as well."
At an hour's time, the play had begun. All the family members gathered into the auditorium, eager to see their young children perform up on stage after being introduced to the world of show business. Martha arrived up on stage and spoke into the microphone to the audience. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Imagination Camp theater, where you will see the development of American youth as they progress forward in life through creative expression and activity........." As Martha went on with her introduction speech, Allie, who was up backstage and giving Martha hand with the production and everything, gathered all the children who were in the play together to say a quick little performance prayer. The rest of the other children would be back-up characters, or cameo characters, and would each have their own chances to shine as well as the children who were the stars of the performance.
After that little prayer, Allie whispered to everyone, "Break a leg, every single one of you." She gave Georgia a wink, to which Georgia replied by giving her a little thumbs-up as sign of her confidence and determination.
Martha concluded by saying, "And now, let's give it up for our own version of the production of..........Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet! Let the show begin!"
The audience gave an applause for the eagerness of the play, and at that very moment, the lights in the auditorium dimmed, and the curtains slowly opened, and the show was just beginning. The children kept their parents and family members, relatives, and friends of friends captivated with their performance for two and a half hours. And it was all thanks to Allie, who had dedicated herself to spending time with each of the children and getting them to learn their lines, some acting methods, and everything she'd known from experience when she was a member of the Drama Club with Quincy back in middle school. She had also done a very great time getting all the kids to get along very well with each other, especially Georgia with her brothers. After the show was over, Martha congratulated all the children, even those who weren't actually in the show, and Georgia and her brothers congratulated each other. Georgia also went up to Violet and apologized to her for her cruel behavior, just as suggested by Allie. Violet then did the humane thing by forgiving her. Martha congratulated Allie for her hard work, and Allie couldn't have been more proud of herself.
"Congratulations, Alessandra," Martha said to Allie as all the children were with their families, being congratulated for their remarkable performances. "I didn't really think you had this amount of patience to deal with these kids and get them to get along with each other, but you did it anyway."
"Well, Martha, if there's one thing I just learned, it's that in order to make a star out of a child, you've got to learn to really understand who they are and where they came from," Allie said.
"I'm not sure I know what you mean by that." Martha grinned.
"Let's just say, I taught Georgia that even though she's misunderstood, she is still capable of making friends and loving her brothers, no matter what," Allie said with a smile.
"Nice motto, Allie. I never would have thought of that," Martha said as she and Allie shared a minute's hug. "Wow, this is something I ought to teach my kids. And my pets," she added. "Huh. You're like a wizard, Allie."
"Except I don't have magical powers," Allie said lightheartedly, and they both laughed.
"Well done, Alessandra," Martha said. "And I look forward to seeing you again next year June, right?"
"Precisely," Allie replied without thinking about it. She loved her job, and it was something she could never take back. It would keep her busy for the rest of the season, and she would soon have her chance to open up her beach club just like she wanted.