Lexi, Matt, and I have been very much looking forward to meeting the kids at St. Joseph’s Villa these past 2 weeks but unfortunately we have not had the chance to do so yet due to some complications. During our initial meeting with Timone, the coordinator, he seemed very excited and hopeful about the prospect of Lexi, Matt and I coming to St. Joseph’s for the Shakespeare class. He was confident that there would be a solid group of kids that would be interested in the class and he planned to get them signed up before we returned later that week.
After this meeting, Lexi, Matt, and I came up with a plan for how to tackle the project – we wanted to make it fun, informative, and productive for everyone involved. We agreed that we should start the first class by taking the time to get to know the kids. Understanding that they would already know each other we worked to come up with ideas that would keep them engaged with each other but would also give us the opportunity to get to know their names and their personalities. We decided that we should begin with a quick name game and then get into some general team building exercises, followed by more theater based games. We figured this would allow the kids to become comfortable with us, with each other, and with the subject matter we were going to be exploring together. If time permitted we were also planning on doing a quick briefing of the project with a summarization of the entire play of Twelfth Night and its characters. Assuming that this would take up much of the hour we would spend with the kids we decided that we would wait until the following week to fully delve into our specific act of the play (Act 3).
When we showed up for our first day, no students ended up being available for the activity. As it turns out, many of the students who Timone was hoping would enroll have another weekly commitment during the time slot we were assigned. Despite being disappointed that we were not able to work with students that week, we coordinated with Timone to arrange a new time slot that worked for all of us as well as for the interested students. We left looking forward to our next meeting. Unfortunately, that meeting was cancelled as well because of an event that all St. Joseph’s Villa students were attending that day. Again, it was a bummer that we had yet to meet the students, but we are keeping our hopes up for the next meeting.
This week we finally met with the group. Of course naturally, things didn’t go as planned. We wanted to talk about the play, Shakespeare, and learn everyone’s names. This did not happen. We did get everyone to sit down and introduce themselves and say an animal that started with their first initial. Most of the kids, the boys particularly lied about their names and spent the duration laughing and crawling around on the floor. The girls were more honest, my favorite part was when a girl, Blanca, introduced herself and she said her animal was a banana. I couldn’t help but laugh. All of the girl are so sweet. I spent most of the time wrangling the boys though. They really liked leaving to go to the bathroom and hiding. I was very much reminded of why I do not and will never have 12 kids. Although I love kids, it was extremely overwhelming. Aleeza and I went and she tried to keep the session organized while I tried to contain the children so that they would pay attention to what she was saying. We did get to talk a little about Shakespeare and Twelfth Night, but they really liked playing hitch-hiker more, which I was thrilled about. It had always been my favorite theater game growing up, so I’m really glad that they took a liking to it. I’m not sure how to approach this going forward. Last working class we figured out what props we would need already. But I am not sure how we will cast the parts and get the children to actually read the script. Professor Bezio suggested that since they enjoy running around, perhaps we should have them read the script while running. I’m not sure if that will work, but I’m certainly open to giving that a try. If anything it will at least tire them out and get them to mellow out a bit.
Caroline and I met with our group for the first time last Thursday. The meeting definitely went different than I was expecting. We walked in to a large group meeting with all the students that are a part of Higher Achievement. There were many other student mentors and adults there that also work with groups of students. Our group was a group of 12 fifth graders. We were brought to a band room filled will instruments, which of course all the kids ran to the second we walked in to the room. After getting them all to sit down we introduced ourselves and went around the room having the students tell us their name and an animal that started with the same letter. Many of the students had trouble with this so we changed it to just their favorite animal. A few of the boys in the class were making up names for themselves… some of them not very appropriate. After we finally got everyone’s real name and were all introduced we told them what we were going to be doing this semester. A few were very excited about the show and the chance to act in a play. However there were some not so excited looks on there faces. We assured them that the whole process was going to be a ton of fun and that they had nothing to worry about.
We then played a game with them called Look and scream. We all got in to a circle and looked at the ground. We had one student count to 3 and on 3 everyone had to look up at someone. If that person was making eye contact back then both had to yell “ahh” and fall to the ground. If the person was not looking at you, you were safe to the next round. You play until there are one or two people left standing. The students seemed to enjoy this game although there was a group of 3 boys that refused to join in to the game and wanted to just watch. After the game we had them all sit back down and we asked them if any of them knew who William Shakespeare was. All of them said no. We then asked them if they knew the play Romeo and Juliet and they all got excited because they had heard of it. We then briefly explained who Shakespeare was and that we would be doing a play called Twelfth Night. We asked if any one had seen the movie She’s the Man and a few said yes. We explained a basic plot of the play and that the movie is based off of the play. One of the best parts was one of the girls goes “Wow this is so cool I didn’t even know I knew Shakespeare!”
After giving them the brief plot we started another game, Hitchhiker (we made sure to mention that they should never pick up a stranger on the side of the road only for the game). We set up the chairs with two front seats and then all the rest behind and had them sit down. One person was the Hitchhiker first and we gave her an idea of what to act like when they picked her up. The students in the car then had to pick up on who she was or what she was doing and mimic it. We played this many times, the kids really enjoyed it (some got way more in to it than others). My favorite one was a little girl we wanted to be Dory from Finding Nemo. This meaning she couldn’t remember anything. As she got in the car the driver started asking her questions and all she answered was “I can’t remember.” The driver then started to catch on and all of a sudden ‘forgot how to drive.’ It was fun to watch the students act a bit in this game and I think most of them enjoyed it! At the end of the night we walked the kids back to the main room and one of the girls came up to us saying that it was the most fun she’s had at this place. This made us happy to know, as much as Caroline and I felt unprepared the students still had a good time. I am looking forward to having them read over the script and start planning out our act with them!