The past two weeks at Henderson have been hectic and fun. We finally started the reading process of the script. Although new people have been trickling in almost every time, we have easily rolled with all the punches that have been thrown at us. Viola and Olivia have changed each week since the people we casted in those positions have not been here the past two weeks. I was really happy to see the disinterested kids crack smiles as we started with some fun theater games. The more time I spend with certain kids the more excited I am to go back every week. Hearing them all attempt and succeed to read the complicated language of Shakespeare was very satisfying. It is so cool to watch them progress and even laugh at the ‘funny words’ Shakespeare uses. Last week we had a few new members who even recognized the plot because they had seen She’s The Man. It was awesome to see their faces light up with recognition. We got through the entire script once in two weeks which was a huge accomplishment for my group. Then we had each student give us ideas for the prop list and let us know what they want to see in the play. It was nice because some of the students who do not love acting got excited about the props and costumes. Some of the students are struggling with reading and some of them are super accelerated. Each time I have to explain the love triangle over and over again, which I actually enjoy because once it is fully drawn the kids all gasp at how complex this situation is. Though some people were not excited to come this past week, by the end of the hour everyone left promising to be back next week!
Unfortunately I did not get to go to rehearsal this week because I went to Charleston, SC for my cousin’s wedding. I spoke with Aleeza and Colby and they said rehearsal was hectic/a mess but they were able to talk with the kids and ask what characters the wanted. There were 14 kids last time. Initially they only had 7 but 7 more were added during the hour which disrupted the session. They were unable to focus unfortunately though. We have decided to cut down the script because, given their lack of focus, we could not imagine them reading/reciting a 20 page script. Also, the boys have decided that they would like swords. Between this week and next week we hope to have a proper set and cast list. We have decided to spilt the large group into 3 smaller groups by characters and scenes which Colby, Aleeza, and I will each lead. Also, Aleeza told me that we received a calendar for the remaining rehearsals and we only have 2 rehearsals left before the final production.
This week only Colby and I were able to make it to rehearsal. We got there it seemed like the number of students was a lot less than the pasted week. The students got to the room and all sat down quietly in chairs. Colby and I decided because they were already focused to skip a game and get right down to picking roles. This was definitely a mistake. As we started more and more students began to wander in which drew focus away from what we were doing. By the end we had 14 total. To pick roles we went through a brief description of each character and gave a line count. The students were told they could raise their hand for as many parts as they are interested in and we would do our best to give them one of their choices. By the last character we had pretty much lost the focus of all the student.
To bring them back together we decided to play again to end rehearsal. Because they enjoyed Zip, Zap, Zop so much last time we decided to try that again. This time however, was very different. Many of the boys refused to play and were running around playing with all the band instruments, which they know they are not allowed to. The students that wanted to play were getting very frustrated as were Colby and I. The only time all students would play the game was when someone said they heard Mr. Allen (the director of the program) coming.
At the end of rehearsal Colby and I felt a little defeated. Despite that we accomplished our goal of getting roles assigned we felt that we had no control of the students. We spoke with Mr. Allen after to get some ideas on how to better conduct rehearsal with such a big group. He told us to dictate a schedule for the hour in the beginning of rehearsal. He also told us about ‘green feathers’ which the program uses to incentivize the students. Next meeting we plan on utilizing these tactics as well as trying to split the group up to read lines and playing games that involve more movement for the students that like to run around. Hopefully next meeting will go better!