I envisioned plenty of scenarioes for our first day at John Marshall High School.

1. The kids would hate us and/or the JSP.

2. The kids would like us (maybe) but not be so pumped for the project.

3. No one would show up.

4. The kids might seem interested, but stop paying attention the moment they got pages of old English by some guy named Shakespeare plopped in front of us.

The one thing I did not prepare myself for was enthusiasm- and guess what? The first thing I heard as I walked into Mrs. Laura’s classroom was, “Heyyyyyy look who’s here?! THEY’RE HERE!!!!” The seven teenage girls waiting for us were there to listen, there to learn, and there to be as sassy as possible as I decribed to them the plot of Midsummer Night’s Dream, i.e. “Ohhhhhh Helena…no way she should NOT have gone there! Get it together girl.”

Day 1 was so much fun. We met our girls, who shoned so brightly with personality and character, Allison, Taylor and I could already envision Judah’s bright blue braids twisted around a flowery crown as Titania, and Amilia’s big eyes and slight smirk emboding a quiet but fierce Hippolyta. The hard part was describing the plot form start to finish, but our students made it fun, bringing to life the dramatic twists with Ohhhs and Ahhhhs that made me feel more like I was recounting an episode of Gossip Girl than a 500 year old Shakespeare play. We took time to ask them what they thought of each character, and gauge reactions as they first looked at the script. I think that part was the most intimidating, but we reassured our girls that we barely understood it ourselves the first time we say it, and we would work through it all together. We also made it very clear that the creative process was open- we wanted their ideas, their costumes, their dance moves…it was their stage! The girls seemed excited, curious, and maybe a bit suspicious of the whole thing as well. I don’t blame them. But all in all, the three of us were welcomed far more than we could have imagined. As the ladies left the room, Mrs. Laura urged them to come back next week with their boyfriends (and ‘just’ friends who are boys) so we could mix up the roles this week. I can’t wait to see what they choose tomorrow…I envision some serious glitter in our class’s future.

On Monday, Allison Molly and I made our first visit to John Marshall High School. We introduced ourselves to Laura, the head of the program, and five of the students who could make it to the first meeting, telling them our year and major at Richmond.

As an introduction, we described what the Jepson Shakespeare Project is and how it pertains to a leadership studies course, and handed out our scripts. To the five students, Molly Allison and summarized Act 4, gave detailed character descriptions, and answered any questions they had about the play and JSP in general. We told the students that they would be deciding costumes, props, and any script changes or cuts that they would like to make. Three of the five students had to leave early for band practice, so before they left, we told all five to read through the act and highlight any characters they were interested in playing and write down any questions they had about the play in general.

Laura informed us that more students told her they wanted to be involved, however many of the students participate in other extra curricular activities at the high school. As of now, we do not have a set number of students, but Laura asked each of the five who attended the first meeting to bring a friend or two to the next meeting who would be interested in participating. She said that hopefully next week we will have a higher number of students. In the mean time, we left her the remaining script copies to hand out to interested students so they had time to look over the material before our meeting the following Monday.

Molly, Allison and I are thrilled because the students we met with seemed really excited to be a part of this production and showed a real interest in picking characters they identified with as well as brainstorming costume and prop ideas.