This week, I was unable to join Aleeza and Caroline in our first meeting with the students from T.C. Boushall Middle School due to a prior commitment. However, after talking to my group members, it has come to my attention that the first meeting did not go well. The students were disruptive and failed to do as they were told. Aleeza also mentioned that they enjoyed running around and playing with instruments that were sitting in the room. I had the weekend to reflect and come up with some ways to make the students more focused and participate in the activities.

If the children are as wild as I’m told, perhaps the best way to get them to cooperate is by being active the entire time they are rehearsing. At first, I toyed with the idea of having them participate in some physical pre-rehearsal theatre exercises. However, the kids may never want to settle down if they are all wound up from the get-go. Therefore, I think we should incorporate into rehearsal some sort of physical activity either throughout the entirety of rehearsal or at least until the students are too tired to be active. Maybe the kids would enjoy dancing when its their turn to read their lines, or having everyone dance until you it is your turn to read your lines, in which case you must remain very still.

As I had a scheduling conflict, the group was not able to meet at St. Joe’s today (I am the designated driver for our group). We did assign the students “homework” at the end of last week’s meeting. They were supposed to watch She’s the Man and review the script using copies handed out. Hopefully they will at least do the first part, as that requires less of the interpretative skills necessary for reading Shakespeare.

This week at youth life we dropped down from five students to only three as the others who were scheduled to be in our class had other commitments. While going forward, this may be something that might cause some concern for our group, it has not given us a problem thus far. One large step that we made this week with our group was that we started to read scripts. This week we focussed on the scene where Viola reveals herself to Orsino and Olivia as we felt that this was a very pivotal and important scene in our act. To demonstrate to the students the scene and to try to alleviate some of their potential confusion, we showed them the clip from “She’s the Man” where Viola reveals herself to Duke on the soccer field and lets her hair down. Then to practice some of the complex roles that students might have to perform in the play, we played an acting game the students had to switch genders. So in the scene, our one student who was a girl had to read and act as if she were Duke Orsino, and our one student who was a boy had to read and act as if he were Olivia or Viola depending on the scene. I thought that this exercise went very well and really helped the student in understanding the potential challenges and confusion that they could be faced with in the play given the complexity of the roles. To finish off the session we allowed the students to pick scenes for each other to act. This has always been the student’s favorite thing to do thus far and I think we will use this exercise as a reward for good work in the future


While a lot went well with our group this week, one potential challenge that arose was the wide range of reading levels across our students. Though all of the students are in middle school, they read at very different levels. Some students are very good at reading and have thus far excelled in reading and understanding the script at a surprisingly fast pace. On the other hand, other students have really struggled in with the readings, even in understanding simple words. Going forward, our group is really going to have to ensure that we assign appropriate roles, and further simplify the readings to ensure that our performance goes smoothly.



“With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.”– Viola Act I, Scene V, Line 230

Now that we’ve gotten through our first rehearsal, I can officially say I’m even more excited to be working on this project than I was before.

I can also say though that things didn’t go exactly how we planned them last post.

But at least it was in a “oops, oh well” kind of way, not a “oh god so many regrets” one.

So there’s that at least.

Our group so far is great. We have about twelve at the moment, ranging from fifth grade to seventh.

They listen to us for the most part and seem very excited to be a part of the program, even though I’d say at least half weren’t even sure what we were doing at first.

The ice breakers went really well. Even the more basic “name, grade, and favorite ice cream flavor” one.

The most popular was the “animal charade” game we borrowed from the class readings. They liked it so much they asked if we could play it twice, which we did, and I imagine we’ll be playing it again in the future.

We were caught off guard a little by our timing. Our group ended up being called in to participate in another, organizational-wide activity at 6:50, so we had less than an hour with them.

Luckily that was only a one time thing though.

A more pressing problem though is the noise level.

We’re based in the Henderson gymnasium along with several other of the organization’s activities, so it is a very loud.

I sent in an email requesting a possible change in location after our first meeting wrapped up but have yet to hear back from the powers that be.

Worse case scenario, I’ll ask again in person when I’m there this Thursday, but I am fully expecting them to say no due to supervision reasons or other limitations.

Obviously we’re planning to comply with whatever the organization says, but it’s going to be hard to give basic instructions, let alone run lines, in a room where you have to shout to be heard just by the people in front of you.

Still, we’ve already had at least two of our girl player’s express interest in big, female roles and our cute little fifth grader is really excited about playing the ship captain.

Since it’s just going to be me this week, I plan on focusing on explaining more of the plot of the show (perhaps with a visual of some sort) and having everyone read through some of the script and to get a final headcount on requests for parts.

I’ll consider the week a big success if I can get all of that done, but honestly for now I’d settle on just having a space where we can all hear each other.

Because of car troubles, we ended up getting to St. Joseph’s Villa five minutes late. However, because of St. Joseph’s Villa troubles, we ended up starting rehearsal 20 minutes late. And with the students having other things to do at 2, we didn’t get to have as long of a rehearsal as we wanted. We could not be in the chapel (no reason was given), so we were in a small room with a table and just enough rolling chairs for everybody. But we made it work!

I was thrilled to see that three of the five students from last week were back: James, Aisha, and Jayvon. I was more thrilled to find out that the other two weren’t there not because of a lack of interest, but for other reasons. Katera was sick, but she wanted to return. Dale had foot surgery over the weekend, but apparently was talking about the Shakespeare project quite a bit! This made us feel very happy: the first rehearsal had obviously been successful! Finally, we were excited to see that two new students were joining us: Curtis and Mike. Curtis and Mike are younger than all of the other students (freshmen), which means they have a little more childish energy that we had to control. We noticed, also, that they are sort of a duo – we decided before we officially started rehearsal that we would need to make sure they were both on stage at the same time, so they could play off of each other’s energy. Toby and Andrew?

When we tried to officially start rehearsal, we realized what our big challenge for the day would be: maintaining control. Whether it was because of the presence of the more disruptive Curtis and Mike, or perhaps because the small room prevented us from doing any movement games to release energy, they were all much more distracted than they were last week. All, except for Aisha, who tried to help us directors by encouraging the others to be respectful. We appreciated that. We wanted to keep control, but because they are so close in age to us, and because we didn’t want to lose them by appearing harsh, we let them get away with a lot. We will need to brainstorm how to handle these guys next time if they have the same unmanageable energy.

Rehearsal went well! We started by showing them a trailer of She’s the Man that we thought did a great job of explaining the plot of Twelfth Night. The students responded well to the trailer and seemed to have a better understanding of the plot, but then they started asking about playing Duke and Viola. Of course, neither of them are in our act… *sigh*

After this, we played a game of emotions. On the car ride there, we brainstormed a bunch of emotions and wrote them on notecards. Then, each student (and each of us) took a card. We then had to say a predetermined sentence (“I’m going to the zoo”) in the emotion we drew, and everyone else had to guess. Some students really got into their emotional performance. Others were either barely trying, or if they were trying they were failing to make big enough choices to make their emotions clear. We should play this game again next time, hopefully in the big space where they can add some physicality to their emotions.

Finally, we handed out the scripts, and tried cold reading the first lines of Act IV in different pairs. The students were making comments about the lines, and a few seemed a little nervous once they saw the difficulty of the script. However, they were all doing much better than I thought they would! They were reading the lines pretty well: mainly we need to work on punctuation and (obviously) inflection. We let them keep the scripts so that maybe a few of them would glance at lines before our next rehearsal.

One thing we realized was that explaining the lines in modern language really helped them. So on our workday, we typed up modern translations for every single line in our act. Hopefully next rehearsal this will help them to better connect with the lines and characters! Our next rehearsal is, unfortunately, not until October 17th, but we hope students come back and that we can jump right back into it then!


After many class periods of preparation and cutting the script, we were finally able to meet with the kids from HA-Henderson. I was extremely excited to meet all of them and get started with this project and I really did not know what to expect. When we arrived, we entered a huge gym that doubled as a cafeteria where there were over 75 kids waiting for their mentors. Initially, I thought all of those kids were for the Jepson project and I wanted to run out the door, how could we manage 75 kids? There are not enough roles for 75 kids yet alone 20! The kids actually ended up being broken up between different groups and we received about 15-20 kids.

We started by playing a game with them in which one of us would say a statement such as “jump forward if you like candy” and if they did they would jump forward. They really seemed to enjoy this game, trying to jump further forward than their friends. After that we played the name game and asked them to give us their name age and an animal that started with the first letter of their name. This went well, yet, the only downfall was that we could not hear the kids because the room was so large and there were so many people in it. After this, we played another game in which each kid was given and animal and they then had to find their pair without speaking, just using motion and noises. Most of them liked this game while others found it pointless and childish. Lastly, we started to explain the storyline of act 1 to them. To my surprise, there were a lot of kids who were really interested by the play, while others balked at the size of the packed of lines we handed to them. Hopefully some of the kids to sparked an interest in the play will return next week.

All in all, I think this session went really well. Our goal for next week is to start delving more into the play while still playing games. We also hope to get a room dedicated to just our group so that we will be able to hear everyone.

We were unable to meet with any of the kids from St. Joseph’s Villa this week because there was a campus-wide event that was happening in their chapel at the same time we are scheduled to meet. So our group focused on cutting down our script even further, which is difficult because Act III is long and we do not want to have our kids lose focus or interest because of the length. We also ended up cutting a couple characters from the scene, such as Feste, if they lacked important lines because we know that we won’t have many kids and don’t want to have them all playing multiple parts.

I am worried and a little bit nervous about the lack of consistency that we have experienced so far because we have yet to meet with our group and do not even know if we will have more than 2 or 3 steady players for our act. Because there are two groups working with St. Joseph’s, it is hard to get enough kids for both acts, and since the other group started before us, they already have some of the kids who would be interested in acting. I am looking forward to this Thursday, and keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out. Timone, who has been helping us, is really engaged with the students at the Villa, and I am confident that he will help recruit a few of them to act with us.