My group, Act 4, had our first rehearsal on Monday (9/19/16). The process of preparing for the rehearsal was a little stressful because of the torrential rain storm. We were a little pressed for time getting there, since I had come from a class and had to grab lunch before we left and since Jacob was coming straight from a rehearsal. Because it was raining so hard, my paper bag that I was holding my lunch in ended up breaking, and my salad spilled all over the walkway outside of the Commons. That was really sad. Maddie did a great job getting the Zip Car set up, so we didn’t have any problems with that and were able to leave immediately. We had already visited St. Joseph’s Villa on the Thursday before rehearsals, so my group knew the layout of the campus. We had already taken a tour of the school and planned to meet Timone in the Chapel so we would have a lot of room to work with the students and so we would have a stage to practice on during later rehearsals.
Once we got to the Chapel, we met James, Jayvon, Katera, Aisha, and Dale, who has autism. All the kids seemed really excited to participate in the program and some of them (Dale and James) also expressed an interest in music (which our group thought would work really well with all of Feste’s songs in Twelfth Night)! Timone told us that we could even expect a couple more kids (assuming the original five continued to come) to show up next time because of how much fun they were having during rehearsal. I’m really excited to work with this group of students because they all seemed really interested in participating, cooperated and worked together really well. They all have really big personalities and weren’t afraid to show them during rehearsal.
We didn’t want to delve too much into the actual play for this rehearsal, so we tried to stick to a basic plot and character introduction. As we began to explain the plot, however, we could see the students lose interest because of how convoluted it was. A couple of them even remarked on how confusing it was that the main character, Viola, wasn’t even in the act we were putting on. Our group realized that it would be too complicated to have them learn the plot in one meeting, so we decided to move on to some theater and improv games and focus more on the play next time when we had more materials accessible to help them learn it. We decided to show them the trailer for She’s the Man at our next rehearsal, tomorrow, because it did a great job at introducing the characters and the love triangles.
The theater games we decided to play were Zip Zap Zop, One-Word Story, and Bus Stop. All of the students loved Zip Zap Zop because it was really easy to learn and gave them a chance to loosen up and not take it as seriously. Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves, which was really great to see. The One-Word Story game was a good transition because it called for more focus and attention. We finished with Bus Stop, which was a game where two people had to pretend to approach a bus stop while acting as a certain character or stereotype and try to get the other one to leave. These games were really effective at breaking the ice between the students and us because we participated too and it created a safe and comfortable space for all of us.
We then started talking about characters and which roles people would want. We started by asking who wanted parts with more or less speaking lines. This was interesting because some of the quieter students initially said they wanted bigger roles. Also, Aisha initially wanted Malvolio, but when we described that role as Olivia’s servant, she immediately decided she wanted something else. This was an interesting display of the empowerment that theater brings people. This was really enlightening for us, so we decided to come up with better character descriptions for next week.
For our next rehearsal, we decided to get the students familiarized with Shakespearean language by having them read lines from the play while emoting different feelings. We’re also showing the trailer for She’s the Man. Assigning characters and deciding what we want to do about Feste’s songs are also on the agenda. A couple people expressed an interest in doing “Hood Shakespeare” as a means of making the act more interesting to them, so we were thinking of switching out some of Feste’s songs with raps or doing a rap battle instead of a sword fight.