Wow. Friday happened. And it was spectacular in so many ways.
I finished my 1:30 class in North Court and scurried over to Perkinson. Once there, the girls and I divvied up our scripts and our fairy roles. Allison was Cobweb, Taylor was Peaceblossom, and I was Mustardseed. Our face paint was top notch. We loaded our sound clips, Marvin Gaye, John Legend, and Trumpet Music, and enlisted Benjamin as our sound guy. We were ready to go. Literally, my only line in the play at that point was “Ready!”
As we set up and waiting for the students, I tried to regulate my emotions and not get too excited for the them to arrived, because we just could not be sure it was all going to work out as planned. I had gotten the news last week, after Monday’s rehearsal, that when asked about permission slips being ready (we organized and requested permission slips in October) Mrs. Ramsey just said, “Ask them about it.” gesturing towards the students. Yikes. What the heck does that mean? I’m all for treating high schoolers like adults, but the displacement of responsibility here didn’t seem super productive. It sounds downright ominous, to be honest. So I wanted to prepare for the fact that we could be dealing with a few absences today.
I went to my car to grab a hair curler, and I saw a huge Groome transportation truck pull up to the Web. Sure enough, it was our people! Mrs. Ramsey and five students made it to Perkinson Recital Hall. That is a success for sure, in my book. I was excited to see a couple new faces, and especially excited to see Dante. Dante and his girlfriend India are the power couple of our play. India is a powerhouse of personality and volunteered on Day 1 to be Bottom. We got her and our other ladies bearded up to play the mechanicals and the lovers. They really enjoyed it! And one girl let me glitter spray her, which was awesome.
One choice that I made and really enjoyed was sitting with the students during the production. We laughed together through Osher’s committed rehearsal, and talked about the student’s roles and what they wanted to accomplish.
It was really interesting to prepare with them and watch them begin to take their performance more and more seriously as the hours rolled by. We made sure they highlighted their roles, as things got tossed up a bit when Hippolyta/Titania girl did not make the performance. So we enlisted the help of an unlikely character- Mrs. Ramsey! In front of the students, I half jokingly asked if she would feel up to filling in. Dante loved this: “Mrs. Ramsey! You go Mrs. Ramsey!!” She agreed! She studied her lines while we prepped the students with costumes–because we had so many moving parts in our Act, and everyone played many roles, we needed to make sure we had our props straight. Because Dante was Oberon, it became a big joke that Mrs. Ramsey and Dante were lovers in the play. It great to have her on stage. Her performance and commitment motivated the students, and we really appreciated that.
About thirty minutes before show time, I went to retrieve a student’s two aunts from Modlin (totally understandable, Perkinson is hard to find). When I got back, Mr. Ramsey whispered to me some worrisome news. “We are losing another actor.” She told me. Uh oh. Sure enough, I turned around to see one of our girls crying into her cell phone. I asked Mrs. Ramsey if everything was okay, and it turned out that the girl was double committed. She had work, and did not realize she couldn’t make it there in time after the performance. Her dad was really mad and planned on coming to get her. I strategized with Taylor to find a simple location for him to pick her up so he wouldn’t be even more aggravated by how confusing campus is, aka so many Jepson’s, Weinstein’s, and Robins’s. Now, we needed a new Peter Quince.
How to solve the last minute snafu? I was sitting behind Dante and India, Act 1 was already performing, and I asked Dante if he wanted to be Peter Quince in Part 2. I knew he could carry the scene (Quince has the most lines in scene 2, and as of now, Dante only played Snug) and he would be great opposite India as Bottom. But would he want to step up and take on another extra roll? “Okay. Yeah I’m down!” Dante agreed, per India’s urging. So it was settled. And I would fill Snug’s shoes, while Taylor would play the left over Mechanical, and Allison would stage and help with costume changes. Oliver stepping up too! He agreed to play Egeus.
We figured it out, and I think things went very smoothly. I was nervous for the costume change after Act 3, since it was the only act that really needed to pull off a group costume change, and we needed to give them space to change back from their togas. However, the students remembered the costumes for each other multiple parts and we got everything picked up and organized. Dante’s cold read was fantastic, Mrs. Ramsey was a star, and the music was a hit. Marvin Gaye for the win!
I am happy with the performance, not just because we were proud of how things turned out, but because it seemed as though the students were. That is a huge pay off. After these many months, I could not ask for more.