Rehearsal on Halloween was both entertaining and productive!

We had a return of nearly all of our previous students, including Dale–who missed the last rehearsal due to bunion surgery on his right foot. He rejoined us today in a wheelchair but otherwise in good spirits. It was nice to have him back. Neither Aisha nor Katera returned, unfortunately (S/O to Thursday’s group–you have them, right?). We did have one new addition, Morgan. At first, I wasn’t sure if she was actually interested in the production, but she quickly turned out to be one of the better performers.

After some brief introductions and an overview of the act, we went through another read of the entire script, which was edited and reformatted during the most recent workday. We made some of the language simpler, included phonetic pronunciations in the margins, and reformatted the script so that it was easier to read. These changes–especially the phonetic pronunciations–helped some of the students read more fluidly. Notably, Christina’s reading of the Clown, who has a lot of lines, improved significantly since last week. We were also touched when she told us “I love you guys” upon discovering we’d replaced the Clown’s original song with Taylor Swift lyrics.

Christina is an amazing young lady. She is high-energy and very invested in the project. But her biggest struggle is reading the complicated language of the play. This has been slightly frustrating for our group, as we have intentionally made changes to the Clown’s parts so that they accommodate Christina, yet she still insists she would rather be Olivia. We will likely end up casting her as the Clown regardless, but we are still working on strategies to help her feel more comfortable in that role. Next week, one of us will work with her, one-on-one, to improve her reading.

After a full read-through of the act, our timing came down to 23 minutes! Obviously, this is not acceptable for the actual performance, but we estimate that the true time is closer to 15 minutes because we had a few interruptions during the first read of the rehearsal. Dale ended up leaving to go to the bathroom before his lines started, and, being in a wheelchair, took a long time, so we had Rufus read both his and Dale’s lines instead. This slowed things down significantly. Also, Kendra…disappeared (?) about 15-20 minutes into the rehearsal, and Natalie took over her role as Olivia for the day. With some more practice, especially on Christina’s part, we think the act will fall within the time limit.

The last activity we did during this rehearsal was another attempt at the emotions game. We started the group with the phrase, “I went to the Zoo today,” assigning each student a range of emotions. Charles is very good at this exercise. The next phrase we used was “an apple fell from the tree.” Again, the whole group was very engaged. Emoting is mostly a struggle for Dale and Rufus, but we will take time to work with them as we get closer to performance day.

This week when we met with our students at St. Joseph’s, we were surprised to see that we had 4 new students and were missing 2 of our returners from previous weeks, Jayvon and Destiny. We came into this week completely prepared with roles for all of the students, so this threw us off guard and we had to improvise. After playing zip-zap-zop and one word story, I went over the plot again to refresh the returners and to introduce it to the new students. Lexi and I decided we should split up our rather large group in half and temporarily assign them roles in some of our scenes so that they could get used to what it is like to read Shakespeare, familiarize themselves with our act further, and for us so that we could gauge their individual reading abilities. I was pleasantly surprised at how well each of the students in my group read their lines, not being afraid to sound out the tricky words and ask for help if they needed it. After we read a scene, I went over it with the students, explaining what certain parts meant so that they actually understood what was happening. We concluded by reuniting the two groups and playing one-word story again, since the new students seemed to have a lot of fun with it. It should be interesting to see which students we get for next week, and decide if we even want to assign roles that are set in stone since it seems like we will have some attendance fluctuation in the 4 weeks we have remaining to meet.