Our week had a promising start after we met with Timone, one the coordinators at St. Joseph’s Villa, on Tuesday and he showed us around their campus and introduced us to a few students. We were eager to meet with our group on Thursday, and had prepared some icebreakers and theater games to get acquainted with the kids, and get them out of their comfort zones. We were ready to give and overview of Twelfth Night and a rundown of the major characters, but when we showed up on Thursday, there were no students to meet with. We spoke to Timone, and learned of a time conflict with another class that had several students interested in acting, but fortunately, my group was all able to move our meeting time up an hour to accommodate.


I received a message today from Timone saying that there will be an event in our practice space next Thursday, so we may not be meeting any of the kids we will be working with until 2 weeks from now. While this is obviously frustrating, it gives us more time to prepare our script and cut it down further, since it is one of the longest in the play. We also will be able to meet and figure out how we can use our time wisely at the Villa, because I am already getting the feeling that we may not have very many rehearsals over the course of the semester.

Our first visit to Youth Life went well. On the ride to our site we brainstormed how to approach our first session. We agreed that we would play some theater games and introduce the plot and characters of the play to our students. Upon arrival we met our five student-actors who varied in their excitement to be a part of our troupe. There was Adrian, a sixth grade boy who was eager to show us his inner thespian. The two girls in our group were shyer at first, but by then end of our hour everyone was excited about acting. The first game we played was zip-zap-zop. This game helped the students follow acting directions and get comfortable with one another. After this we played an improvisational game where AJ, Dylan, and I gave directions to the students throughout the scene to regularize them to acting with varying emotional and setting cues. This second game allowed the students to use their imaginations and get out of their respective comfort zones.

After we finished the theater games, we went over the plot and character roles of Twelfth Night. The students decided that the setting for Act V will be contemporary Miami. Next week we will assign character roles and start to go over the script. We may also show a scene from She’s the Man to help the students visualize the overlapping plot lines. On the whole I think our group will have a lot of fun rehearsing. There may be some bumps along the way, but those will all be part of the greater learning experience.


This week at youth life was very productive. I was not sure what to expect when driving to the youth life Northminster campus. On the way to the site TJ, Dylan and I almost got lost, however, we managed to find our way there in time. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Carin who introduced us to all of the students in the Youth life remix program. Our group consists of three boys and two girls between 6th and 8th grade. While they seemed to be not very enthusiastic in the beginning of the session, after a few acting exercises we seemed to get the kids excited about the play. Some of the games we played were “Zip Zap Zop” and another game where the kids had to act in an improvisational role depending on what we told them to do. We also determined the setting of our play which will take place in current times in Miami per the request of the kids. This one seemed to be particularly popular. Overall I think that our group did a great job in introducing the play and getting the kids to think about Shakespeare. I look forward to working with these students throughout the semester and anticipate a great play.

This past Monday (September 19th), the Act 4 group had its first rehearsal at St. Joseph’s Villa. Before we arrived, I will admit that I was a little unsure about what it would be like. The car ride up was very quiet — I think we were all pondering what might happen. Maybe the rain had something to do with it too.

We arrived, and went into our rehearsal space (the Chapel, which is great because there is a lot of room.) There, we met four African-American high-schoolers: James, Javon, Aisha, and Katera (I’m pretty sure this is how they spell their names but I’m not sure — we should figure that out next week!) These students all had a lot of energy right from the start, and when we told them about the project and the play, they seemed interested! However, our explanation of the play was a little shaky and went on a little too long, so I think we lost them. But for next rehearsal, we found an excellent trailer of “She’s the Man” that explains the plot perfectly. So we’ll show that.

One more student joined us, after about 10 minutes. His name is Dale. He has autism, but is high-functioning. I am very interested in working with Dale. My younger sister Rachel (18) has autism, and she is not high-functioning and has a lot of trouble with learning and social cues. I’ve also found myself working with a number of other autistic students, whether they are at my sister’s special-needs school, or they are in my town’s school system (where I now work as a substitute paraprofessional when I go home on breaks). So I’m not at all fazed by Dale’s autism: instead, I’m looking forward to showcasing him — he really wants to be Sebastian 🙂

We played games at this rehearsal (Zip Zap Zop, One-Word Story, and Bus Stop). Though it took a couple of minutes for them to understand the games fully, I was so pleased by the energy they immediately brought. They were having fun, laughing, and getting really into it! That sort of energy and willingness to perform are going to translate really well onto the stage. And during Bus Stop especially, they proved that they all can play quirky characters and maintain a good stage presence. I think it helped that we were playing the games with them as well. It created a very safe space.

Finally, at the end of the rehearsal we discussed the parts and started getting an idea of who might want to play which character. One interesting thing that happened was when we were explaining Malvolio. We had almost convinced Aisha about doing it, and then I made the mistake of using the word “servant” to describe him. She immediately backed off, clearly not wanting to play him anymore. My thought was “Good for her, but darn!” We’ll have to explain it better next week.

I’m really excited for this project, and look forward to next rehearsal!

Our first meeting at HA- Henderson is not until the following week on September 29th, so this week acted as a time for us to prepare for our first meeting. Since we have the first act, which is historically the longest act in Shakespeare’s plays, we really directed our focus this week on cutting down the act to around fifteen minutes. It was incredibly difficult to determine what parts of the act to keep in order to maintain the main themes of the act while cutting it a lot shorter. Once we had it initially cut down, we decided to read through the entire act to ensure that it was under fifteen minutes. Unfortunately the act was a little longer than we expected so we had to do some more cutting until we believed it would finally satisfy the time limit.

Next week, when we meet with the Henderson kids, we plan to just introduce ourselves as well as the play and the act we are focusing on. We don’t want to jump right into starting lines but rather want to start with a few improv games as well as maybe the name game. With our act cut down and our plans set, I am excited to get rolling with this project next week.

Page Soper

Act 4’s first meeting with the students at St. Joseph’s Villa started off without a hitch! Five students participated in today’s meeting: Jayvon, James, Aisha, Katera, and Dale. The kids were all cooperative and engaged in the group, and seemed mostly enthusiastic about the performance.

The tone of today’s meeting was very casual. We began with introductions and came to learn that all of our students are in high school (with representation from all grade levels within). Dale joined the group about 15 minutes in; he has autism but is higher-functioning and a very sweet young man. He and James are musically inclined and broke out into song during the introductions, which was fantastic, as the spontaneity is important in theater. We also briefly went over the play and compared it to She’s the Man.

After introductions, we played three games. First, we played Zip Zap Zop. After several rounds, the students got the hang of it and did not break the flow for a few minutes. However, the students had some trouble at the beginning learning to communicate non-verbally (other than saying their designated word). Eye contact was the hardest part for them to get accustomed to. Dale also struggled with the non-verbal cues, but was successful overall in the game. After about ten minutes, we moved on to play One Word Story. The students enjoyed this game and continued on for another ten minutes. The final game was Bus Stop, and the students were hysterical! James dominated the stage for the first half of the game and had a very positive attitude. Then Aisha came in as Cinderella and also rocked it!

The last piece of our meeting was a discussion about roles and about the play. All of the students expressed wanting at least a few lines, with Katera and Jayvon wanting the larger roles. We noticed that, in describing Malvolio as a “servant,” some of the students were turned off to the idea of playing him. We will revisit the way we introduce characters next time and see if we can change their minds.

Our initial experiences with Act 1 have been challenging, particularly because in Twelfth Night Act 1 is the longest act in the entire play. Not only do a lot of things happen during this act, but also many people have long conversations. We initially cut the script down a lot but when we timed it realized that it was still verging on 15 minutes without actions added in. We are currently cutting it down even more and removing a semi-inappropriate scene between Sir Andrew and Olivia’s maid. I think our biggest challenge will be explaining this script to the kids in a way that engages and excites them. We have planned our first improvisation game and how we are going to show the kids how silly we are and that it is ok to be silly. Hopefully we can break down the barriers between everyone and create the safe space we want to provide them.We are excited to meet them and to show them that anyone can be successful with Shakespeare.

Sarah Jacobson