This past Tuesday was our first week back at Higher Achievement after Thanksgiving break. We had a pretty good number of students there and they seemed excited to see us. Kesha had called all of the students parents in order to get confirmation that they would be there on Friday and our head count right now is 11 students and we determined finalized characters. At rehearsal we did a full run through of our act. We had the students line up and walk “onto stage” (the front of the class) and say their name and what character they are playing. They then all exited the “stage” and the characters from the first part walked back onto the stage and recited their lines. It took about 30 minutes to get through the whole rehearsal so we cut down the script a lot, especially the very long parts.
While we have practiced a lot of acting skills at rehearsals and encouraged the kids to be entertaining, I’m not sure how good their acting skills are going to be. Most of them seem excited for the play but some of them might get nervous or get stage fright. Right now we are going through the props and are assigning the specific props to the characters. I am excited about this because I think the kids will get really into the play once they get dressed and get their props.
So today was our last day!! It was one of the few times that we had EVERYONE there!!! We figured out all the costumes, all the staging, and seating. A few characters are not 100% sure they will be there so we split their lines appropriately to other characters just in case. We also figured out when and where Thisbe should drop her mantel, run off the stage and come back on. We looked at the Royals and how they should be while the other characters are on stage. They now have glasses to clash together while in the audience (stage audience)
Tony also brought some music which was fun to have. I’m not exactly sure if we are intending on using it, but for the sake of the rehearsal, it was fun to have!
We finalized costumes and how to make Thisbe’s mantel stay on my head. We’re using a leaf crown to make it stay. Were also bringing a marker to put the lion’s blood on it. We also talked about directions for probably 15-20 minutes. They were very obsessed with the Richmond map and we were like “it’s not on the map!!”
Finally, we went through the whole thing, costumes and all and it was great! We did it twice upon Sheryl’s request. I will miss acting with them every week!
We accomplished a lot in our last meeting with our actors. We went over when to be at the recital hall and where to park. We also went through the act twice all the way through and it was our best run through yet! Everyone was present and we had a great time. We made sure we knew all of the props we are going to use were arranged and made final decisions on costumes. We still do not know if we will have one of our actors tomorrow as his son is probably going to pass away in the next two days if he has not already. I admire his strength and courage, he always has the most enthusiastic attitude about being there and he says he is doing this play “for himself.” I can’t wait to see all of our actors and actresses perform tomorrow and I hope that they will all be able to attend. Our group is prepared to help out the other acts if they have missing actors, by reading the parts. We have a work day in class today and will be sending in our final script of our act, our cast list as it stands currently (though it may be subject to change) and our final list of props. We wrote the 100 word summary of our act, that will appear in the program, last night and went over it with our OSHER participants. I can’t wait to play moonshine tomorrow night!!!
(Originally November 2)
After getting the emails of the students from last week, we sent them an email to remind them midday on Monday. We all forgot to do so, but we figured that students would be checking their phones periodically throughout the day and would see our email. This time, on our way to John Marshall we decided to call Laura to get an attendance estimate. She told us that no students had stayed after school so we should not come to John Marshall. Taylor mentioned that we would get the email out earlier. This time we forgot and fell behind on sending out a reminder.
We turned around and discussed how to proceed following the last two unsuccessful rehearsals. It seems that there just may not be an interest from the students in participating in an extra curricular that was almost like another class. We were going to send out an email even earlier to remind students and to catch them before the weekend.
(Originally, October 26)
After having such a highly successful rehearsal last week we expected to have a huge turn out this week! This however was not the case. Rather, only one student showed up — the student that has been most actively involved in blocking, staging, and participating. Laura mentioned that she had absolutely no way to contact us so she did not tell us to turn around. Earlier on Laura mentioned that many of the students have other commitments. Half of the students have commitments and half the students return home. The student that came told us about a fellow student that returned home because she did not feel like staying late. Laura told us that we had to be far more authoritative with the students and we had to figure out an incentive for students to come. She said that we should bring snacks or send out reminders for students. It would be difficult for her to have an authoritative figure because she is too close to them. She asked us based on our experiences if there was something that would motivate us to go to an event. We mentioned either food or a more frequent reminder. We suggested that we would start emailing the students the night before to give them a sneak peek at what we would be doing week to week. Mrs. Ramsey/ Laura also gave us a set of emails for potential juniors who would interested in the Jepson Shakespeare Project. I had been the contact person for between Laura and us before so she sent the emails to me. Hopefully we will have more students if send out reminders and make the project more enticing!
(Originally Oct 19; Posted Later)
Taylor and I were back at John Marshall High School for our third rehearsal. Last week’s break gave us time to relax and plan what we want to work on. Molly was unable to attend the rehearsal because she had a mandatory commitment. We finally had our first successful rehearsal today!
We arrived to rehearsal and many of the students (who had returned from our first visit) had a name refresher. With so many new and reoccurring faces, we had forgotten many names. We started immediately with acting games to get everyone up and moving. We noticed that the rehearsals in the past included a lot of script reading and it appeared as if students were disappointed. At times they looked bored out of their minds…Yikes! I introduced a few games to the group to play. The game was the classic zip zap zop game which got competitive fairly quickly. Students were so focused that the room was practically quiet – except for when a student lost. Then the students would tease and wish the eliminated student luck in the next round. The next game we play was one that was introduced to me at choir camp. The premise of the game is that you have to ask the person next to you to marry them. You say, “Honey, will you marry me?” in a way that will make the person laugh or smile. If they do either laughing or smiling, that person is eliminated from the game. With the six of us girls and one guy, everyone actively tried to get people to laugh. Although we haven’t been there for very long, each member of the group was flexible and new ways to get the other person to laugh. They were attentive of what other people had done in the previous rounds to get others to laugh and were willing to step outside of their comfort zone.
Next we started reading through the script. We were not as active during this part of the rehearsal but we were highly collaborative. All of the students went in a circle reading a line from their scripts. We read through the first scene in act 4 and asked the students how they imagined the stage appearing. We started again from Titania’s line “Come sit thee down on this flowry bed” and students would jump in and convey what they were imagining. In this scene, the students imagined Titania lying down with Bottom laying beside her. Titania would be lovingly interacting with Bottom while the fairies running back and forth upstage would be frustrated at Bottom’s demands. Taylor and I wrote all of their ideas down in the margins of our scripts. Before we went into the hallway to block what we had just discussed, we asked the students which roles they were potentially interested in playing. Since we have had such inconsistent attendance rates, we had a difficult time assigning roles. Laura helped us and told us which of her students would be ideal for certain parts. This was extremely helpful as we ended up with a full cast (minus little worker fairies).
Taylor and I went into the hallway with the students to block out what they had suggested. The first time we ran through the blocking, I would shout and insert emotions or actions for students to incorporate. A few students had to double roles in order to satisfy the number of characters that we had. Taylor and I realized that we would likely have to be fairies in the performance – aka a childhood dream! We ran through the script a few more times with different character doubles and switched roles. They decided that they wanted a donkey head as opposed to the unicorn head we wanted… It’s alright! We were extremely impressed with their enthusiasm and participation in today’s rehearsal. We can’t wait til the next one!
We had our last visit with our Higher Achievement students before the performance. For this visit we were hoping to clean up the act and have the kids prepared for the final presentation on Friday. However, we had some difficulties but were able to be somewhat successful.
In order to ensure we are the best prepared we can we reviewed with the students their parts and were finally able to find out who would or would not be there this Friday. This caused some stress since we then had to change around some students and who their characters would be, but the students handled this well and we will be prepared to make last minute changes if need be. One of us may need to step in for one or two lines but it will not be for a major part.
We had them run through the entire act and they seem to understand the lines but will most likely not do much moving around but maybe the atmosphere will encourage them to show some more energy on stage. They are excited about their outfits and being able to dress up.
Come Friday we will see how they have progressed throughout the semester and if they feel they did a good job.
Since this past week was Thanksgiving and the students did not have Higher Achievement, we were not able to work with our students. However, this gave us time to think of what we need to do for our final visit.
The kids are young so they don’t have long attention span but this coming visit we will have to have them run through the entire act so they understand what the day of will be like. We will have to cut some of the lines even now knowing how hard the lines can be for them to read through. They are prepared to read the lines but we need to put a lot of emphasis on the acting aspect. We need to figure ways or activities that allow them to practice acting and not just reading in place.
We also need to run through having the characters with multiple actors practice switching out during the act. They understand when their lines are switched but we need to run through the art of the students replacing each other on stage. I don’t think they will struggle with this because when we have their attention they process what they should be doing quickly.
Although we have some major points to focus on this week, we expect the visit to go well. The kids have been very excited for the performance to be finally here and we hope that carries over into them putting enthusiasm into the practice run through. We will also have to convince some students to make sure to get rides and that this performance will be worth it since they have difficult home situations.