As predicted, this week was chaos. Oliver and I went in with the simple goal to read over the script and cast roles. We figured this was doable within an hour’s time, but in the end we only got through 3/4 of the script. Rehearsal went really badly. The kids were acting up, and it was clear Oliver and I had very little authority and respect. Our group also reacted very poorly to reading Shakespearian English. Some of the boys were angry they couldn’t understand it, and they refused to participate. I stressed that the reading was hard and it was normal to struggle, and I advised that they shouldn’t get hung up on individual words, but rather, try to understand each block of text as a whole (after each conversation in the script we tried to summarize what was going on for them). Most of the kids did struggle, but there were a few who did a really great job working through the reading. This said, it would have been a lot easier for the girls and boys that volunteered to read out loud if their peers weren’t talking over them, being distracting and jeering at them. It was so out of control that a physical fight almost broke out between two boys. Oliver managed to cool them down, though. Enough negative comments, here are some positives for the day: it was amusing when the kids pronounced “Titania” as “Tina,” and also, when it came time for the fairy song, the girl reading jumped on her chair and sang/ belted out the entire thing very dramatically in opera style, and it was fantastic. I think there’s a lot of potential in the room, and if everyone behaved we’d be able to do a great job and cast solid roles. It also became clear that we will need to cut the script a lot more if we want to keep the performance around 15 min. This week Oliver and I are going to have to strategize a way to gain our group’s respect. I think our leadership style in any other situation would be reasonable, smart and effective, but it simply is not working with the Youth Life group. We’ll have to get creative this week. Fingers crossed we have a breakthrough.

Today we met with our group of students for the first time. St. Joseph’s has several different schools on their campus, and the students in our group were pulled from each school. This has made the group a bit challenging to work with because each student has a unique, and sometimes difficult background story. We are going to be working with approximately nine students. Some seem eager to begin and are very attentive, while others can barely sit still and show little interest in the production. We gave a brief background of the play and Shakespeare, and then explained each role. We began to cast roles but it was somewhat preliminary and will probably change going forward.

I look forward to going back next week. Hopefully we can make some better progress.