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.
Today was without question our best day yet. Coincidence that Haley wasn’t there? Probably not. We managed to walk through almost all of our act, and the kids were actually attentive and involved. I am hoping that we have finally solidified our group of students, but we unfortunately found out that one kid will not be able to come to the performance (the 3 of us will be doing a bit more acted than we originally anticipated). We were in a very small room today, which made it a bit difficult to walk through transitions of people being off and on state, but it managed to work out. We also handed out some props. In hindsight it may not have been the best idea because some students were just wildly swinging around swords, but things realistically could have been worse.
All in all the three of us were very happy with today’s work. Now that we are only a few weeks from the performance I hope that we continue to see productive meetings.
Well, this week our ring leader aka Sheryl was not in attendance today and practically no one was able to show today. Therefore, we thought it would be most beneficial to cancel practice today. We were planning on going over parts of Act 4 even though were act 5, just incase if our group needs to fill in for one of the other groups. Naturally, my group is very excited to do this and would be MORE than willing to read more lines and be on stage. If we have another meeting before the performance, that is what we will do. If not, we will speed read right before the performance! As for our actual act, we are feeling confident in our lines, costumes, and staging!
This past Tuesday was a big rehearsal night with Higher Achievement before the big performance! We started the night by having the kids line up and walk onto the “stage” (the front of the class), say their name to the “audience” (Kit, Melissa, and I), and what character they were playing. I think practicing this was beneficial to the kids because now they are more prepared and know what to expect for the beginning of the play since we are the first Act. The kids did a good job with this and I think it made them excited to start rehearsing.
After this we practiced Act I from the beginning. We got the characters from the first part of Act I together and had them walk on the “stage” in a line. They then started rehearsing their lines in front of the rest of the class. We then moved on to rehearse the second part of Act I with the Mechanical’s. They did pretty well with both parts of Act I but the kids were not really paying attention unless they were reading their lines. I think taking them outside to burn off some energy might be necessary for the actual performance because the kids don’t like to sit still and they are often very fidgety and like to annoy each other.
When there was about 15 minutes left in rehearsal we played a game which practiced dramatic expression on stage with the kids. Every student would come up in front of the class and say any line from the script in the most dramatic-emotional way that was applicable to the line. We told them the most dramatic/enthusiastic person would win. They got pretty into it and mostly everybody wanted to participate. Finally, we wrote the time they needed to be at Boushall in order to take the shuttle to UR on the day of the performance (just in case they forgot to tell their parents) and handed out the posters to each child. One of the adviser’s came in during our rehearsal to talk to the kids and try to get a final head count for the performance. A lot of the kids were unsure if they could come because they did not know if they would have a ride to/from their school because their parents work. It seemed as though there were about 6 kids who would definitely be there (mostly girls) and the adviser said she would call the kids’ parents’ who were unsure if they could go.
This past week was a little different than our past few weeks. It was a little more chaotic than the last few but we were still able to get the students to practice the play. They were definitely more energetic and distracted but that was good practice for when we have to deal with them on the day of the play.
This visit we split the students up by character. Those who interact together in the play were grouped together so we could practice reading through the play. I was given the girls who would be playing Helena and Hermia. We have multiple girls playing these parts so we reviewed how they would be paired up. I first had them read through the lines as pairs and practice pronouncing the words they typically struggle with. We had quite the laugh with the word bosom, but they eventually were able to read through with minimal hesitation.
After reading through their lines, I had them practice reading through the lines while standing up. I had them try moving around and adding their personal touch to their characters voice and presentation. They were not as comfortable with this but they slowly came out of their shells and started to add more theatrics to their parts.We ended our time with them by doing tongue twisters which they loved and got really involved in.
Hopefully this coming week we are able to put the play together more as a group rather than small groups.
It seems like every week of success is followed by a week of regression. I blame a lot of the difficulties to the change of setting. We were moved to a small, smelly, classroom that was clearly lacking on room for the kids to move around. From the get-go, they were distracted and it took them about 15 minutes to even start the Act. Every time one of the kids began their lines, they were immediately interrupted by other kids. Nia was particularly distracting this week…but she was certainly not the only one responsible for our trouble. I was attempting to help them with their acting but the constant disruptions were aggravating and I started to give up. We did all we could to finish the Act, let them run off, and left.
I’m begging next week will be back in a conducive room for our purposes but I doubt it. One can only hope that the kids are in a decent mood to actually work with us all. This week was very tiring…next week has got to be better as we are almost at showtime.
Last Tuesday we had another meeting with our kids from Higher Achievement after having not seen them in two weeks. Overall, the meeting was successful and ended in a fun tongue twister game that the kids enjoyed playing. We started the meeting by going through attendance and making sure everyone knew which character they were playing. We then divided into three different groups based on chronological events in the play. I led the third group, which consisted of the Mechanicals and the final scene of Act 1. Everyone read through their lines, but there was a clear distinction between the kids who were eager about the upcoming play and those that were not. Two boys in my group were being difficult and didn’t want to participate, which makes me nervous for when show time comes around. I tried giving them the least amount of lines so they didn’t feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, the other boy in the group, who plays Quince did a great job last week. He had always been a good reader when it came to his lines, but he really embraced the acting/public speaking tips I gave him and he was much more enthusiastic about his lines the rest of the time. I am excited for him to perform on stage. His newfound enthusiasm reading the lines also inspired the two other girls in my group to read more dramatically/energetically. They were splitting the lines of Bottom and both did very well. I am impressed with how the kids did reading their lines this week, but I am nervous because they were very easily distracted. I am hoping it may have just been a bad night because they aren’t typically like that. Hopefully tomorrow they will continue to keep up the good work and stay more focused !