This week was nearly perfection! We finally had a breakthrough with the kids because they came ready and excited to read through their roles. They also seemed very happy to see us, which was crucial for the relationship I have been trying to build with them. A lot of the success during read-throughs was as a result of us splitting the group in two, Athenians and Fairies. I worked with the fairies and was happy to see them succeed with reading and ask questions where they were needed. I was even able to describe what was going on in certain scenes without any disruption. We completed the read-through in under 30 minutes!
Lydia and I continued our reward leadership style from last week and let them all play outside for the next 30 minutes. I played football and frisbee with the boys and they loved running around with me. I keep coming back to the development of this relationship because I think that is the most significant part of this work. As significant as the actual play is, these kids want to be with someone who cares about them and has fun with them. This week was extremely encouraging for our long term success. I’m looking forward to the next meeting.
Oh my goodness this week was smoother. After last week I came to Youth Life dejected and apprehensive, but thankfully that was all quelled…for now. I think a large part of this was assigning roles to each of the kids. They seemed excited to be able to call a character their own and really start to embody their role. I am confident they will fall in love with their characters as time goes by. The process by which Lydia and I assigned roles was based on reading levels, but also working hard to keep the siblings out of the Athenian roles. All of the girls accepted their roles without any challenge, but it was rather hard to assign fairy roles to the boys. I had to speak with one boy, in particular, to encourage him that Oberon and Puck were strong men and not, as he called it, “Tinkerbells.” I even went so far as to show him a google image of Oberon from the movie we saw for class.
I think another one of our successes this week was bribing the kids with free time if they finish the reading early enough. In addition to running through the script quickly for the purpose of getting to free time quickly, the kids even quieted each other. After getting through the script, we took them into the playroom and I played basketball with the guys. This week was important for developing a relationship with the boys so they will trust me when I tell them to read the script in a certain, maybe embarrassing, manner.
This week was very rough for Lydia and I. It was the first time we attempted to have the kids read through the script and we figured it would take an hour or less to do so…we were wrong. The kids were in complete chaos with the addition of a couple more students. They were unable and unwilling to read the Shakespearean English, they showed us no respect, and there was even a fight that nearly broke out between two individuals. We did our best to show support when they struggled and gave up, but it was clear the boys, in particular, had no desire to read. On the other hand, the girls were able to read the language better than the boys.
As rough as this week was, there were a few positives. While I was outside the classroom cooling down a fight, I heard one of the girls yelling the Fairy song with a great deal of drama and excitement. I can certainly see the potential to be successful, especially with the girls, but it will depend on their focus. As a result, Lydia and I have decided to cut the script significantly. Hopefully in doing so the kids will maintain their focus long enough to get through the reading in a capable manner.
Lydia and I have decided to meet up and start brainstorming various styles of leadership that may be more successful in these circumstances. I hope next week we will have more control over the kids.
Last week we had our best attendance and were able to start reading our lines as our characters. On the second read through, we started figuring out how we were going to position the play within the play. The old folks were extremely helpful and all had their own ideas. They are all really excited about actually having roles in the play. The toughest part so far has been that we have small numbers so everyone has to play more than one character. We had to readjust the script a few times to make it easier for people to switch between their roles. A few have even begun to research their roles and had a few things to say about how they think their lines should be read. We also started talking about costume ideas and a few of them wanted to bring in their own items and told us they would bring them in for the next week. We will continue to work on the staging the next week and hope that our attendance is just as good.
On this day we were meeting with our group for the first time. It took a while to get started since the school is very spread out. The way that the school is set up is that there are many smaller “schools” on the campus known as St. Joseph’s Villa. The different “schools” include kids that are socially awkward in public school, kids that were unable to behave in any other schooling environment, kids with specials needs, etc. We had to stop at each stop at each school to pick up the kids that were interested in doing the play. Once we were able to get them all we had to bounce around a little until our contact was able to find a room we could use to conduct our introduction to the Shakespeare Project. The kids were very energetic. Three of the kids were excited to do the play while the rest did not really seem like they wanted to do the production so i was confused as to why they were there. They mainly talk to each other and were on their phones which distracted us from telling the group about the play and distracted the other students. We were able to cover the characters of our scene and the gist of what was happening in our scene as well as a summary of the play overall. As we left the site we were thinking of how to get a better handle on the behavior of the group as well as trying figure out how to go about starting the actually acting part of the Project with the group we had as far as casting.