This week went much better than the last. We were put in a more open room which allowed us to play more fun games with the kids. We started off by playing a game called museum guard. On the count of three the kids all had to freeze and stand like statues. I acted as the guard and walked passed them. When my back was turned they had to move positions but if I caught them moving they would be out. We played that game for awhile and them had them all sit in a circle on the ground to go over their tentative roles. We also went through the five scenes giving them a brief description of what happens in each and asked if they had any questions. After that we split the group up and had them start to read lines. With my group the majority were excited to start reading even with the odd language. However, when one of the boys started to read he tripped up on a few words and one of the other boys made fun of him. Allen, who was made fun of, immediately got up and left the room. I told the group that we have to support each other and that Shakespeare is difficult for everyone including myself and many adults. I then followed after Allen and talked to him about what happened. After that he was willing to come back in to the room but did not want to read again. (We’ll have to see next week how he’s feeling about it or maybe talk to him about having a non speaking role.) We went through the rest of the act we were working on and then it was getting close to the end. The kids asked if we could play the museum guard game again so we played that again before we left.
Day: November 4, 2016
Halloween Monday! And one student wore a costume (Charles)!
We arrived a little early, and Timone told us that we wouldn’t have as many students as we normally do. This was a little disappointing, as we were hoping to finally cast students. However, five students showed up, which is about as many as we normally have. Christina, Rufus, and Charles returned (they have been here pretty consistently now, so we think that we can rely on them!), and they were joined by Dale (from Week 1, back from a foot surgery!) and a new girl, Morgan. We were excited to see Dale, but it was clear that the foot surgery had taken a lot out of him: his energy was zapped, and we could barely hear him when he talked.
We started rehearsal with our emotions game! We gave each student an emotion on a flash card (and we each took one too), and told them not to tell anyone else. Then we gave a sentence and everyone performed that sentence with their emotion and we all had to guess. This went really well! Most of them were doing a great job portraying emotions (the exception, unfortunately, being tired Dale). After someone successfully performed an emotion, we would ask the students to comment on how they knew that person was happy/sad/mad/etc. We hope that this helped the students to understand how to portray emotions with their Shakespeare lines.
Then, we decided to read through the act again. We decided that since we were considering Dale as our Sebastian the first week, we would have him read the part today (we knew that Rufus could read it). We also decided that we wanted to hear Morgan read more than a few lines, and since we knew Charles could read well, we gave Charles a smaller role for today and gave Morgan Malvolio. Christina played Feste again, Rufus was going to play Sir Toby, and Charles was playing multiple minor roles, from Sir Andrew to Maria (something he found very funny). However, right as we were about to start the read-through, Dale told his assistant that he had to use the restroom. His assistant told us that it would take about 20 minutes (because he’s on a wheelchair). So we switched Rufus to playing Sebastian. We realized that this sudden switch frustrated Rufus, who wasn’t sure which character he was supposed to be playing. He seems to dislike inconsistency — it might make the most sense to keep him as Sebastian at this point!
Everyone read very well today. Rufus seems to be getting even more comfortable with his lines, and is performing them a little faster. Charles was good and expressive. Morgan impressed us — I briefly explained the plot and the character of Malvolio to her before we started Scene 2, and she brought this interesting, dark side to Malvolio. It was really cool to see this new student read so well (but that’s our problem — we have so many students who read really well and perform well, and that makes it hard to commit to casting…)
The biggest surprise for today was Christina. It was clear that she had looked over Feste’s lines some more since our last rehearsal, and she was reading the lines more smoothly. Sure, she was still pausing in many places, but there was big improvement. One of the highlights of the rehearsal was Christina realizing that we had swapped out the older Feste songs with Taylor Swift songs (Love Story and Bad Blood, which we thought roughly fit the themes of the scene). She said, “Aw, I love you guys!” and then proceeded to sing her heart out for both of them. We hope that this helped her grow even more comfortable with playing Feste (though she still wants to play Olivia FOR SOME REASON THAT I JUST CANNOT UNDERSTAND). Though we feel bad not letting her play Olivia if that’s who she really wants to play, we have no one better fit to play Feste, and she clearly enjoys playing Feste (especially now with the Taylor Swift songs!) She will do great!
We finished the act in about 20 minutes, which is a pretty good time for still having four more rehearsals! As we were reading the last lines of scene 3, Dale returned. Too late for him to read in the act run-through. However, we still wanted to hear him read, and we still had about 10 minutes left of rehearsal. So, we returned to the emotions game, but this time we had the students use their chosen emotions to read a line from the play. We did two rounds of this. Morgan, Christina, and Charles did very well. Rufus and Dale struggled with simultaneously portraying the emotion and reading the line correctly. And Dale especially struggled with the reading today, both with understanding it and enunciating it. We feel bad for Dale — he was so enthusiastic the first week, and we really don’t want him to be unable to perform. We will figure something out if he returns again!
Next rehearsal, we hopefully won’t have anyone else new (we have not had a week yet where there hasn’t been at least one brand new person, which is exciting for sure, but also inconvenient). That way, we can start officially casting and doing specific scene work. We will split up into small groups to work on things, and one of our big focuses will be helping Christina to read and understand her lines better!