Weeks 9 and 10 we had off for Thanksgiving. Week 9 they hosted a Thanksgiving at Boushall and week 10 was Thursday November 24th as in Thanksgiving day itself. I am worried about our production as we have not been able to get the kids to run through the act once. Hopefully we will week 11, but as of right now I am not sure how our performance will go. We have been able to determine which kids are good readers, which kids like theater/acing, which kids dislike theater/acting, and which kids have difficulty reading Shakespeare. If we had the time, I would like to help those kids who have difficulty reading. However, given the time constraint it would be difficult to do at this point. There are not enough rehearsals and so the kids who have difficulty reading will just have to have smaller roles. Also, overall the kids have issues with paying attention/staying on task. While we can generally get them all to participate in the theater games, it is difficult to get them to focus on the play. Perhaps for the next class I will bring candy to bribe them to focus on the task at hand. If they focus and we get through the act then they get candy. If not then no candy. It’s unfortunate that I would have to resort to that, but as they say, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

This week we were able to get the kids to act through several scenes. I was unable to be there due to a mock trial conflict unfortunately. However, Colby and Aleeza said we made good progress to a certain extent. The kids who weren’t acting out the scenes at the time were unruly and unable to focus on the task at hand. It’s really hard for us to maintain control while rehearsing. Granted, all the kids are pretty young so no one said it would be easy. I think it’s more so that there are so many of them. Typically there are about 15 kids at each session and usually there are only 2 or 3 of us at each meeting, so that’s 5-8 kids per jepson student. We’ve been trying to channel their energy through theater games. Sometimes it gets them to calm down, but sometimes it just engines them. We haven’t truly run through the full act with all of them yet. Yes we have read them and gone through each scene, but never in it’s entirety.Hopefully we will in the next session.

This was our last rehearsal. It’s been so cool to see how the students have grown, not only as actors, but into themselves. A lot of them, like Rufus or Talia, seemed very reserved during the first couple rehearsals. Now, however, they’re emoting, enunciating, and projecting while reading their lines.

This week, we had Christina (clown), Dale (Sir Andrew), Rufus (Sebastian), Charles (Malvolio), and Talia (Olivia). It was confirmed today that Jacob would not be attending the show on Friday. This means we need someone to play Sir Toby. During the rehearsal, we had Jacob (from UR) play that role. Maddie and I stepped in as the smaller roles like Fabian and Maria/Mario. We decided to run through the act twice today. By letting them know this in advance, we avoided a lot of the confusion or complaints we usually got during the second read through. We stressed to the students to take this rehearsal seriously, since it would be our last before the show. We reminded them to always face the audience, read along even when not speaking, always stay in character, and remain quiet while offstage.

When we cast the show, everyone seemed okay with their roles. Talia was really enthusiastic about being Olivia, and even shouted, “Yes!” Christina still seemed interested in Olivia, but Maddie stressed to her that Feste was more of a pivotal character. I think this, and Feste’s hat, made the role more appealing.

These run throughs went really well. We managed to get through it the first time in 19 minutes and the second time in 15 minutes. During the actual play, I think we might stay on or near stage to help things progress quickly if someone forgets their lines.

We ended the rehearsal by asking them if they had any questions, telling them what time to get there, and reminding them to wear dark or black colors. Charles wanted to know if he had to wear a “bow tie,” or suit, which was really funny.

Overall, this rehearsal went really well. I’m so impressed with how well the students read their lines and stayed on track the whole rehearsal. Talia, who previously said she had a lot of stage fright, even said it wasn’t that bad today and that she had fun. Dale said he might sing his lines on Friday to make things more fun or interesting. Before we left, Charles told us that Jacob, Maddie, and I did a “great job,” which was really nice to hear. I hope things go just as smoothly on Friday!

At our second-to-last rehearsal (woah), there were a few surprises. Jacob (the student) told us that he might not be at our actual performance, and Christina was mysteriously absent! We hope Jacob is able to make it, and we hope Christina comes back for our last rehearsal.

For rehearsal we had Rufus, Charles, Jacob, Dale, and Talia. At this rehearsal, we really wanted to focus on blocking. Overall, the lines are going very well. Most of our students read very well at this point (Rufus, Charles, Jacob). While Talia’s speech is hard to understand, she is very committed to her lines and gets through them at a good speed! The last reading problems we have are Christina and Dale. For Christina, we cut down a number of Feste’s lines to make them easier for her to read (and to cut down on the amount of time she talks, as much as we didn’t want to!!!) And for Dale, we decided that one of us will go on stage as the role of Fabian, and we will help Dale read his lines if he gets stuck.

At rehearsal, we ran the act twice! Both times it was within our 15 minute time limit (though this was probably because Christina wasn’t there, and the three of us switched off for Feste and read the lines much faster). Still, it is encouraging that we have gotten it down from being over 30 minutes! We also finished blocking the act, and most of the students seemed to remember the blocking well from the first run through to the second. The biggest issue we had was that some students were not following along in their scripts backstage. We emphasized that they should always be following along, but we think that at least one of us will be on each side of the stage so we can make sure the students make their cues!

I must say, I am so happy about the commitment and enthusiasm of our students! Most of them understand what they are saying, and all of them use some emotion in saying their lines! Dale still gets discouraged when we run the act more than once, but luckily in the show we will only do it once, so hopefully he will have sufficient enthusiasm for that one time!

Finally, I wish that we could officially cast the show, but it continues to be all but impossible because we don’t have the same students show up every time. We have pretty much cast the show at this point, but it’s technically not finalized. We will just have to see who shows up and take it from there.

So excited for Friday!