Last week, we had our second to last session at Higher Achievement to work on Act 1. We started off the session with informational stuff, talking about giving permission slips to the parents and trying to get a head count for who would be able to go. The program director helped us with this task, but we are not certain how many children will definitely be able to go. After that, we got right into rehearsal and working on our lines. We made sure to stress to the kids how few practices we had left and how exciting the performance was going to be. They are very eager to come to campus and hopefully this enthusiasm will continue for the next few weeks and into our final performance. Instead of breaking up into groups, we had the students practice walking on stage and saying their names to the audience to work on speaking clearly and loudly. After that, we went through the list/grouping of characters and walked through all of Act 1 on stage. Because a few kids were missing, Devani, Mel and I would step in for the missing characters. We even timed parts of the play to see if we need to cut any lines or add more. I think after next week and we have a finalized number of who will definitely be able to come, we can add final adjustments to the script.
As the kids read their lines, we would correct any words they mispronounced and helped them with different cues for character switches, but overall they did a pretty good job. Their reading skills are definitely there, but they are more focused on reading than acting. We tried to help them work on their theatrical skills by playing a game at the end where we gave them a set of lines and they had to read them as loudly and enthusiastically/dramatically as they could. Some of the kids were better at this game than others, but they all put in some effort. I think our main focuses for next week should be to help the kids focus more on acting out their lines and staying focused while other kids read their lines so they know when to jump in. Overall though I am really excited to see them in the final performance!
Finally I left St. Josephs feeling as though we truly accomplished something towards the play! Not having Haley was initially a worry as we were not sure who would get the kids and the space. In reality she was not able to distract the kids, thereby allowing for us to control the attention throughout our time there. This was the first time the students were able to act out the parts and amazingly so we were able to get through the vast majority of the play. The biggest downside was the amount of time that it took to read through what was already a cut down version for the second time. We will more than likely have to cut down again and paraphrase due to the language being truly difficult for many of the students. If our last meeting with them can go as well as this one, I believe that we will be able to put on a rather successful act. Of course this hinges on the ability of our students to show up. One student said he probably would not be able to come. Hopefully this will not be the case by next week. Yet with the Villa, who can tell.
With only a few more rehearsals left, we have been much more focused with the students at Higher Achievement. This past week we were missing quite a few students but were able to continue working on more of a group presentation verses our usual break out groups. We had the students practice walking on stage and introducing themselves and their characters. Although this seems like it would be more simple it was a good thing we practiced it because the kids would have been all over the place as to how they introduced themselves.
Next we had the students go through each act and read through the lines from each section of the act in front of the whole group. Reading through definitely showed us where we need to work on for the final performance. The students are always improving on being able to read the lines but they don’t do much acting but more of stand and read straight from the paper. This is understandable but gives us something to work on. We need to get them to be more theatrical. In order to help out this we had them do a competition. For those who were willing and wanted too we had them try to be as theatrical as possible while reading through about two lines. We have a few that when they put the effort in they can be quite good, but others could use more practice.
For the final few practice sessions we hope to be putting the play together more fully and have them try more acting along with reading through the lines.
This week week I was unable to attend our rehearsal due to a swim meet, and they decided to cancel due to low attendance. We have a pretty solid hold on our scene so a week off will not set us back. I plan on getting the script for act 4 out to the group relatively soon, if we are still needed to fill in. The OSHER participants expressed an interest in being able to look at the scene prior to the production if they were to perform it, so I will do my best to get that to them in the next week. We are getting more excited as the date of the production gets closer and look forward to seeing all the work the other groups have put into their scenes! We continue to leave the very end of the play up in the air until the day of the performance, but beyond that all of the staging etc. is set in stone. I have been very appreciative of the enthusiasm the OSHER players have exhibited thus far in the process and hope the high energy level will continue till the day of the performance! We will not meet next week as it is Thanksgiving break and the leaders will all be home for the holiday. Our next meeting will be December 2nd just two days before the production. We feel confident as a group that our scene will go smoothly and plan on working out any last minute details on the 2nd.