Unfortunately, due to prior travel arrangements, Caroline, Colby and I were not able to make it to week 2 rehearsal. We were worried that this may effect the flow and focus of the group and because it is such a large group maintaining focus is important. We discussed how to approach the next weeks rehearsal and get on track with productive and enjoyable rehearsals. We decided our next meeting we would introduce the script to the students and have the start to get use to Shakespeare’s language. We also wanted to try and play Zip, Zap, Zop with them to get them warmed up and let some of their energy out before sitting down and looking at the script.
When the third week came and it was time for our second rehearsal. We were excited to see the kids again and make some progress on the script. There were a few things we wanted to come out of rehearsal knowing; first have a setting and theme for our act and second getting a feel for which students in the group want big speaking parts. We decided to bring the group candy as an incentive to listen, participate and get through all that we had planned. We started off with teaching them how to play Zip, Zap, Zop. At first the kids did not seem very interested in the game, however as they began to get the hang of it we slowly watched the group get more and more excited and in to the game. We played three times and then had them all sit back down in their seats.
We pulled out the scripts and re went over the plot of the play. We didn’t have too much time left, so we passed out the script and just had them flip through it and talk about what their thoughts were. Most of the first reactions were something along the lines of “We have to do this whooooole thing” or “this is so long.” We told them its definitely manageable and if there are parts that they didn’t love we can make edits here and there. Another comment they made was in reference to the Clown. Which we realized we should have changed to say Fool or Feste. Many of the girls in the group expressed that they were scared of clowns, while the boys all asked if they could be the ‘killer clown’. We tried our best to explain Feste’s role as the fool, not an actual clown, but I think we will have to go over that again with them. Other than that the students were shouting out character’s that they wanted to be. Which will be a task for next weeks rehearsal. We then asked them about what setting they wanted the act to be in. The consensus of the group was to do it in modern day. By that time it was the end of rehearsal, we passed out candy and brought them back to the big group. We accomplished our goal of determining a setting and the students seemed to be excited about the play!
This week marked our second consecutive successful week at St. Joseph’s Villa, and we were excited to have our students meet Eliza for the first time and get back to work. We had one new member in our group, Katera (or KT), who had also met with the other group at St. Joe’s, and she seemed to already be friends with Destiny, Jayvon, and Aisha. To my relief, we also had every member back from the previous week, including Charles, the most eager of our actors. We decided to go into more detail about the plot of the play and the different characters. Trying to explain the love triangle proved to be challenging, because although we felt like we were explaining it well, it was difficult for the students to understand since they were not too familiar with the identity of each of the characters. Next week it may be a good idea to find some sort of visual so that the kids can attach an identity to each character that extends beyond a name.
Familiarizing the students with the characters got them excited to see which role they would want to take on in the production. Since some of them had already established roles with Act IV from the Villa, they quickly wanted to assume those roles with us, but we stressed that if they played different people for different acts, it would probably be a lot of fun. For example, Aisha said she is playing Feste in Act IV, but when we told her that Feste does not have a big part in our act, she decided that playing Malvolio would be a good idea since he takes on a humorous role in Act III. One of the issues that we faced with assigning roles was trying to figure out how people could take on more than one role, because there are many times when two characters are engaged in the same scene, so this is something that we are going to have to go through the script and figure out as a group before we can finalize anything.
As a reward for working so hard, we played some more games, which everyone was really excited about, including the 3, 6, 9 game, one word story, and at Destiny’s request – heads down, thumbs up. Next week we will bring printed out copies of our scripts and hopefully finish assigning roles so that we can start rehearsing some of the lines with the group.
This week we were unable to meet with our groups due to Fall Break plans. Aleeza, Caroline, and I were curious if whether or not our group would be hurt or unaffected by this cancellation, because the first meeting did not go very well, so we were worried we would lose the group’s focus.
Over the weekend, Aleeza, Caroline, and I planned our next meeting with the group. We plan to introduce the theatre preparation game titled, “Zip, Zap, Zop,” discuss the plot of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, go over what Act II entails, and, if we have time, assign roles.
I thought that this week at youth life was one of our most productive weeks thus far. We finally had all five of our theatre students in attendance, and were able to distribute all of the roles among the students. Another very positive thing that came out of this week was that we were able to run through significant portions of scenes. One great thing that came out of this was that we finally were able to move “beyond the lines” so to speak and focus on how the lines were to be read and the appropriate movements associated with the scene. I thought that this was a huge step in the right direction for us as it showed that in some sense the play was finally starting to come together. In addition, one very bright spot of the play that really has the kids excited is Feste’s song at the end of the play. At this point the kids are thinking that they want to do some sort of dance at the end of the play, what that means and what it will ultimately look like is still to be determined. One really bright spot that came out of this week was, one student Marcus. Marcus has missed the last two weeks of rehearsal, and had not even seen the script yet. However, Marcus was thrilled by the story line of the play and even asked us if he could take on more smaller roles if possible. I thought that this was a very cool gesture by Marcus, given the trouble we have had with the other students thus far.
While a lot of things went well this week, one thing that was not good was the students attitudes towards one another. One of our students, Khalil, reads at a much lower level than the other students and sometimes struggles reading his lines. This week, some of the other students were making fun of Khalil which was completely inappropriate. As a result, Khalil became very offended and stormed out of the rehearsal. TJ was eventually able to calm him down and get him to return some time later. The students that were responsible for making fun of Khalil were disciplined by Dylan and myself. We let the students know that that sort of behavior would not be tolerated going forward. Even with this setback, however, I would still say that this was a productive week of rehearsal. I look forward to next week greatly when hopefully the students are ready to continue their development.