Act 4, 26 September

Our work today for Act 4 went well. We started with a bit of a bump–our reserved Zipcar hadn’t been returned on time–but a quick call to customer service got us placed in a different car. We were only 5 minutes late to St. Joe’s.

Upon arrival, we went into the chapel, where we quickly pieced together that Timone hadn’t yet arrived and turned on the lights. I attempted calling him twice, but his cell phone was out of battery, so we walked over to Dooley School, where we expected to find him. Another staff member radioed him for us, and brought us over to Cottage 2, the Center for Alternative Education, and set us up in the conference room. It was another ten minutes or so until a group managed to assemble and seat themselves.

Three of the five original students, James, Jayvon, and Aisha, returned, as well as two other new students, Mike and Curtis. We began by introducing ourselves to the new members, and then attempted for a second time to clarify the plot of the play. In order to engage different learning styles, we played the trailer for She’s the Man for the students. Some had seen the movie, but it appeared helpful for everyone’s understanding. We compared the characters in the play to those depicted in the trailer, and answered some of their questions about the plot as well as about the performance more generally.

We then conducted some activities to help students develop their expressive techniques. Natalie wrote up a series of emotions on index cards, then had everyone draw a card (examples include anger, confusion, joy, boredom, and fear). Then, we had each student say the same sentence (I have to go to the zoo today), under that particular emotion. For some of the stereotypical emotions (anger, sadness, happiness), the students were more expressive and clear; however, for the more nuanced emotions, like love or awkwardness, the students seemed less confident. At times in this process, it was difficult to keep the students’ attention for more than a minute at a time. We think this may be because Timone had an extra workload today, and so he could not act as a supervisory presence the entire time.

The next activity that we did with the students was simply an expansion of the first, but applied to reading the script. We had the students separate into pairs, and assign one person as the Clown and one person as Sebastian. Then, each drew an emotion, and read their portion of the first page of Act IV. Some of the students paused during the middle of their readings to express frustration or incredulity about the language used in the play. However, to our delight, ALL the students who participated in the activity read the text very fluidly, with only minor issues interpreting punctuation and pacing. The rehearsal ended shortly thereafter, with a reminder to the students to review the script and potentially watch She’s the Man, as the next two meetings have been pushed back due to conflicting schedules and Fall Break.