We had a fantastic rehearsal this week!

When we arrived, we saw some old faces and new faces. Christina, Rufus, and Jacob were back, and we had two new students: Crystal and Charles. Once everyone arrived, we explained the project briefly to Crystal and then got started. We asked if anyone had looked over the script. Christina enthusiastically informed us that she had not only looked over the script, but had watched videos, done research, and taken notes. I’ll admit, at first I sensed that wasn’t all true, but later when we were trying to explain parts of the play to provide context for our act, Christina occasionally would interrupt with some information she knew about the play (almost all of which was correct). While Christina showed it the most, I also found out that Rufus had looked over the script, and that Charles has worked with the other St. Joseph’s group before. So we had some experienced members with us on Monday.

We decided to jump right into script-reading. We had intended to do official casting today, but because we didn’t have enough people, and some people were new, we just assigned parts that we think we will eventually give people, but still didn’t officially cast them. It was good to hear them read the parts we were thinking of giving them.

The cast was: Christina: Feste, Rufus: Sebastian, Crystal: Olivia, Jacob: Toby, Charles: Malvolio (extra characters were done by Natalie and I)

Everyone read very well! Rufus handled his long lines excellently, and his diction is still impeccable. He even put some emphasis behind words and had emotions in his voice when he could understand what he was saying! Jacob, Charles, and Crystal all held their own, and I was impressed by how well they could cold-read the lines without having seen them before — I think we will be safe if we have to randomly assign parts on the day of the show — seems like everyone can handle it (casting is still preferable though).

Finally, Christina did a fantastic job with bringing energy and being open to new ideas for Feste (she sang random notes for the singing parts and did an….interesting, demonic voice as a Sir Topas voice). However, Christina is a slow reader, and even though she read Feste last week, she was still struggling with a lot of the lines. She would get mad at herself if she had to keep stopping, and some of the other students would occasionally laugh when she would stop herself, which Christina would misinterpret as them making fun of her. We just had to keep encouraging Christina to keep going — and she got through it! We want to take some time to work with her separately on her lines in an upcoming rehearsal.

The biggest problem from this rehearsal is that it took us the entire rehearsal to get through our act. Now, there were pauses to discuss context, and we didn’t start right on time, but it definitely took at least a half hour to get through the script itself. I think the time will go down as people start getting more comfortable with their lines, though! Hopefully!

On our work day Wednesday, Natalie, Maddie and I made some new edits to our script. We took some of the prose and made it into sentences that were not broken off by line breaks. We edited words like “I’faith” and “wouldst” to make them easier to read. And we added a couple of phonetic pronunciations of tough words that will hopefully help people who struggle to read them.

Looking forward to next rehearsal!

This week was one of more productive rehearsals. All five of our students were present and we had additional help from another Youth Life volunteer and UR student, Chris Miller. We ran into a few hiccups with the students losing focus while practicing lines, so we tried to breaking up rehearsal with a theater game. We played a game where each player could only say one word at a time and we moved in a circle trying to form a sentence from each person’s one word contributions. This game started off slowly, but eventually we hit our stride and formed a few cogent sentences. However after awhile the allure of this game wore off and the students grew restless.

When we returned to the scripts the students had another good run up until the end of our rehearsal. On the whole our students are more comfortable in their roles. There are still some issues between a few students, but these conflicts are not as bad as in weeks prior. Dylan, AJ, and I are hoping that acting on stage in front of people will dissolve these issues as the students will be too nervous to agitate each other.