After two weeks of being absent from Higher Achievement, we returned Tuesday and were welcomed with open arms. The kids seemed very excited to see us again, which was an awesome way to start off rehearsal. We were missing a few students, but we knew that would be a common occurrence when working with Higher Achievement. We started off the evening by playing a theater game that was similar to the one we played in class that one time! Melissa, Kit, and I came up with different scenarios in which the children would act out in front of their classrooms. Some examples of these scenarios were getting a new puppy, being told to do homework by your mom, or learning that it was a snow day. The boys were much more willing to participate than the girls and they got very very into it. The girls started participating as we got more into the game and they seemed to enjoy it as well. This game was really fun for them and they got a chance to practice their acting skills by being dramatic and emotional, which they usually aren’t allowed to behave like during school or mentoring sessions. I was actually very surprised at a lot of the children’s reactions to some of the scenarios. For example, some of the first things that the children would guess would be someone being robbed, mugged, murdered, or shot. None of our scenarios entitled these situations, so I found it interesting that these were the first things that came to their minds.

After the theater game, we split the children into three groups where each group was managed by Kit, Melissa, or myself. We had them highlight each of their characters’ lines and as well as rehearse some of their lines. In my group, we went in a circle where each student would practice saying some of their lines. The students were also really excited when looking through the script and finding their specific lines. When we were rehearsing the lines, I was extremely impressed with how well they were able to read them. In particular, one of the leading men in my group did an amazing job at acting as well as handling different pronunciations. When I asked if they understood what they just read, they would always say no. I would try my best to explain to them what their character is saying and how it relates to the rest of the play. I enjoyed this part a lot because it showed me how the children are actually learning the old English and starting to understand more about what the play entails.

Monday, October 19th was an exciting day for Act 4 of the Jepson Shakespeare Project!

We showed up to John Marshall with enough numbers to have a successful first rehearsal. Upon our arrival, we did a quick name refresher in case they forgot ours (and we most definitely forgot some of their names). We jumped right into some acting games to warm up and get comfortable with one another. First, we played zip zap zop which actually got pretty competitive. Then, we played the Honey, will you marry me? game, which Allison had to explain to everyone. To play, you ask the person next to you “honey, will you marry me?” in a way that will make that person laugh and they are trying not to laugh or else they are out of the game. It was pretty funny since there was only one guy and six girls. Surprisingly, they all got really into the game and tried so hard to make each other laugh, us included. What I love about this group is that they are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and are really good at participating!

After a good warm up, we had everyone get out their scripts and proceeded to do a read through of the first half of scene 1, act 4. We read from Titania’s “Come, sit thee down…” line up until the part where Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus enter the scene. While reading through that section, we stopped a few times to explain what was going on, and offer possible staging ideas. I wrote down their ideas in the margins of my script. We asked the students which roles they potentially wanted to play, which turned into actually casting the roles to those students. Because of our low numbers, and having all of the characters in act 4, some students had to double up. Molly, Allison and I will most likely be playing the fairies (YAY).

After we assigned roles, our group went into the hallway and ran through the first three pages of our script twice. We tried out some of the staging ideas we brainstormed earlier in the class room.

It’s awesome how enthusiastic these students are to be a part of the Jepson Shakespeare Project! When we left the rehearsal, Allison and I couldn’t get over how well they participated in the acting games and reading through the script. We look forward to meeting with them this coming Monday.

Also, the students finally decided they want to have a donkey head instead of a unicorn head for Bottom. We’re making moves…

Unfortunately, we were unable to meet with the John Marshall students last Monday since we were on fall break until Wednesday. We notified Laura that we would be returning the following Monday, Oct 19th for our next rehearsal.

In the mean time, we are trying to finalize our prop list for the first part of act 4. Last time we met with the students, we told them that it is really up to them how they want to stage the movements based on the text. During our last work day, Molly, Allison and I brainstormed some stage directions for each character to give the students an idea of what may work for certain scenes. On Thursday, I went through our script and wrote down any notes or ideas that came to mind.

The last few visits to John Marshall were unsuccessful in terms of being able to start working with the students on the script and begin casting, so we are hoping that this coming Monday there will be enough students to get started!