This week’s rehearsal was one of our most productive. We only had three students, Adrian, Janiyah, and Tamiyah, so we were able to focus on the scenes with Orsino, Olivia, and Viola. This allowed us to really hone our opening and closing scenes, focusing on how characters address each other and line inflection. Our three students did a relatively good job staying focuses on the play, leading to a successful full run through of Act V. We also decided how we will close out the play. Instead of Feste signing a song, the students have prepared a dance number to the song, Juju On That Beat. The song tangentially relates to the play, but the students really enjoy the song and dance number. It provides motivation to make it to the end of the act.

Next we week we need to focus on staging and stage blocking. These improvements will allow students to better interact on stage and help the scene to flow more naturally. They are nervous about our production being only two rehearsals away, but I am confident that they will step up to the challenge.

Today (11/14), we had what felt like a reunion: everyone that came had been to a rehearsal before. That was a great feeling. James, Jayvon, and Talia came back, along with Christina, Rufus, Jacob, Dale, Charles. This was the largest group we’ve had to work with yet. And after having week after week of not enough students to fill all of the parts, it was an entirely different challenge having one too many students.

We started off the rehearsal with Zip Zap Zop, and everyone did a good job. When I asked everyone to project, most people did a good job with that as well.

Then we started working on the scenes. We staged and ran Scene 1 and Scene 2, and whenever someone wasn’t in a scene they were in the audience watching (so that everyone knows the scenes and the blocking). Christina was Feste, Rufus was Sebastian, Jacob was Toby, Dale was Andrew, Talia was Olivia, Jayvon was Fabian, Charles was Mario (changing Maria to Mario), and James was Malvolio. Some highlights:

  • Christina is doing a better job with her reading! It’s clear she’s been practicing. However, unfortunately she is still moving a little too slow, so today in our work session we cut down a couple of the longer and more confusing Feste lines.
  • Dale has always mumbled his lines, but today he chose to sing his longest line and it sounded great! You could hear every word! We think we’ll let him sing.
  • Talia is so sassy and confident, and even though she has trouble enunciating her words, I love the energy that she brings to the stages

Finally, I went over three rules of theatre with the students: No backs to the audience, always project, and stay in character even if its not your line!

We’re still unsure about who will show up for the actual showcase, but we hope that we are sufficiently preparing everyone to play any part in the production!


Today we had eight people show up. Dale played Sir Andrew, Christina played the clown, Charles played Mario (since he wanted to play a boy but we needed to fill the role of Maria), Javon played Fabian, James played Malvolio, Talia played Olivia, Rufus played Sebastian, and Jacob played Sir Toby.

We began the rehearsal by introducing ourselves, since we had a larger group than normal and some students who we hadn’t had in a couple weeks. Then we transitioned into the act by playing Zip, Zap, Zop. Once we got through a couple rounds of this, we decided to run through the whole play. We attempted to incorporate enunciating and projecting, emoting, and stage directions. We started by assigning roles and then having each student go to a “back stage” room and wait until they had speaking lines. We didn’t manage to get through the whole play, so during our work day we decided to cut down on the script more. Since the clown had the most lines and Christina struggled to read quickly the most, we cut down on some of the repetitive lines she had. We also tried to space out the script more to make it more readable.

For the upcoming rehearsals, I think we should focus on increasing the speed and fluency at which the students act. The more familiar they are with the stage directions, the quicker we can move through the script. I think another struggle we faced today was people getting frustrated or bored. Since not everyone was acting at the same time, people seemed to lose interest. Again, I think that the quicker we can move through the script, the less of a problem this will be. Christina still seemed to be disappointed that she was playing Feste and not Olivia which confused us at first because we tailored the role to her. However, Maddie said that this was because Christina thought Olivia was the main character. In order to keep her motivated and excited, I think we should keep explaining to her how pivotal of a role Feste is.

We ended rehearsal by telling the students three important things to keep in mind while acting: project your voice, never turn your back on the audience, and when it’s not your line stay in character.

As the project is now closing in on performance day, we dedicated most of our energy at today’s rehearsal to staging. We had the biggest group so far today, so keeping everyone on task was a slight challenge. We had Rufus, Dale, Christina, James, Jayvon, Charles, Jacob 2, and Talya participate as Sebastian, Sir Andrew, Clown, Malvolio, Fabian, Mario (nice save, @Jacob 1), Sir Toby, and Olivia, respectively, but for the most part, all the students cooperated and seemed invested in the project.

We started again with Zip Zap Zop, with a particular emphasis on vocal projection. To our amusement, Charles voiced his concern over being too loud inside a church, which we countered by explaining that we are performers in a theater during rehearsal. James in particular did a great job at projecting, both during the game and throughout the rehearsal. Talya and Dale struggled the most with enunciating and sending clear signals to their peers–something we should focus on during our final meetings.

After the game, I proceeded to give a brief explanation of stage directions found in the script and the cues that the students need to pay attention to. We had the group break into their respective scenes and then practiced entering the stage and blocking each part. Natalie and I stood in the offstage rooms and gave preparatory directions to the actors inside each one, while Jacob stood on stage and helped the students face the proper direction and follow the cues in the script. This was very successful, as Natalie and I were able to prompt the students to enter the stage in expressive ways based on the point of the plot being performed.

The meeting concluded with Jacob giving the three rules for performing: (1) never turn your back to the audience, (2) project your voice, and (3) stay in character, even when not speaking. The students seemed to absorb the rules. We distributed scripts to everyone who wanted to continue practicing between today and next meeting. We plan to bring props and costumes for next time.


Last week, we had five students return – Dale, Javon, Christina, Rufus, and Jacob. We decided to break into groups so we could work more closely with the students who struggled in similar areas. For example, Jacob and I worked with Dale, Rufus, and Jacob on emoting and projecting while Maddie worked with Javon and Christina on reading and interpreting the lines. Since I personally didn’t work with Maddie, I don’t know firsthand how this worked, but it seemed to be really effective. Christina had previously struggled to read the script, but Maddie said that she really excelled once someone fed her the lines and she had to repeat them back. I think this is really useful to know, because now we can give her more auditory cues instead of just the visual ones from the script.

We cast Dale as Sir Andrew, Javon as Malvolio, Christina as the clown, Rufus as Sebastian, and Jacob as Sir Toby. I think these roles really suited everybody, so unless our group of actors changes drastically I think we should try to stick with them. Christina still seemed a little upset that she wasn’t cast as Olivia, but hopefully will warm up to the role of Feste.

Before we broke up into groups, we began the rehearsal by working on emoting. We had the students walk across the stage while portraying a certain emotion. For example, if they got “mad,” they would have to stomp across the stage. This worked well because they had to use their entire bodies, instead of just facial expressions or voices. Our group as a whole is pretty reserved and quiet, so this helped them seem more comfortable and commanding on stage.

Jacob and I worked with our group to stage the fighting scene. We had Rufus, Dale, and Jacob run through that scene a couple times so they could work on stage fighting, blocking, and emoting. We had them practicing “slapping” and “sword fighting” each other. They seemed a little hesitant to get close enough to each other to make it look realistic, so this week we’ll focus on getting them more comfortable interacting with each other on stage, instead of just focusing on getting them comfortable being on stage.

I noticed that the students were still reading their lines pretty quietly, so then we tried a game in which we had them attempt to shout each line louder than they did the last one. This worked a little at first, but by the end they were still reading the lines somewhat quietly. I think this week our group might bring candy as a motivator for reading the lines loudly or staging the fight scene really well.

On Thursday evening Page and I went to Henderson, the kids were once again on a sugar high. They were upset that we did not bring any treats for them but we explained that we also came from a full day of classes and did not have time to make something, which they seemed to understand better. We started with the “whats the word” game and each actor was able to state one word which was written on the board by a student and they formed a story sentence by sentence.The students got really invested in this game and enjoyed making silly sentences and including people in their group. We decided to give them the topic of acting for one round and they even incorporated Shakespeare into their story! Afterwards we wanted to get them acting or at least moving around on the stage. We began playing a game called Mr. Fox, to relate it to the play we made them ask Mr. Fox questions using different voices depending on the emotion/feeling we told them to convey. They even attempted british accents which was quite entertaining. They began to analyze the characters in the play and we asked them how each person would speak based on what we know about them. For example we would say, “Viola has just arrived on land for the first time in days, how do you think she feels in this moment? How would she sound?”. The kids responded well to this and even got engaged in the character analysis, they also loved the moving around part, so I definitely recommend using movement to run through lines with the kids to get them more involved. The rehearsal flew by and the kids were barely ready to go, Page and I both agreed we have never seen them smile and laugh this much and it made our day.