We were unable to meet for rehearsal this week because it was during Thanksgiving Break…on Thanksgiving Day, actually. Thankfully, we are on schedule to meet with the group next Thursday, which happens to be the night before the final performance. Although we have not met with our group in 2 weeks, I am glad we will be meeting this Thursday rather than any other day in the week, because rehearsing the night before the performance will be a good refresher that they can carry with them the following evening.
Day: November 29, 2016
This week we were unable to meet with our group because T.C. Boushall was hosting their own group Thanksgiving for the entire after-school program. Unfortunately, this break from rehearsal is unfortunate because last week was the first week that the students actually participated.
“Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.” – Feste (Act 1, Scene 5 Lines 13-14)
Yeah, so this is a little late.
Do I have legitimate excuse? No.
But what I do have is a pretty good recollection of how this rehearsal went.
Well, the bright side was that we managed to get the students we were dragging their heals on actually being on stage to all take parts, and we actually had one or two students with smaller roles, like our captain, who also agreed to have another part.
But that all came after we finally had to raise our voice for them to sit down and settle in for the evening.
Look, I was a middle-schooler too once, so I know that Shakespeare rehearsal isn’t going to be what people feel like doing, but for whatever reason that night we couldn’t even get our students to stop falling out of their chairs and running around the room.
We’ve tried to make it a pretty fun and open environment, but sometimes you just have to be the bad guy to get their attention back on what they needed to do.
We did try to start with some movement games at least, which is usually enough to help them settle down on their own, but for whatever reason that wasn’t enough for this rehearsal.
The good news is that everything was fine once we got them settled in, and we took the time to explain that we were sorry we had to yell before we even tried to have them go through the script.
We got through a whole reading, and I think we have a very strong group for Act 1.
I unfortunately will not be at the next rehearsal since I will be out of town, but it’s crazy to think that we only have a few weeks left until opening (and closing) night.
Today was our last official rehearsal before the Big Day, this Friday December 2nd. We had five students join us: Rufus (Sebastian), Christina (Feste), Talia (Olivia), Dale (Sir Andrew), and Charles (Malvolio). We began the day as usual, with a brief introduction and an overview of the day’s objectives. We prefaced this particular overview with a note that Friday is performance day–this seemed to sober the group a little more than usual, and I suspect it contributed to their increased focus today.
We then reminded everyone of their roles and let them know that, if they arrive for the show on Friday, they can expect to keep that role. Timone was especially helpful in incentivizing the students; he has arranged for the participants who show up on Friday to take a field trip of their choice sometime next week. While I was fairly certain that every student who showed up today would have shown up on Friday regardless, the incentive did reassure our group that we would definitely have a solid group for performance day.
We then ran through the act twice. We had the students focus on three specific components of the performance: (1) projecting their voices, (2) facing the audience, and (3) never quitting. The last part was especially important because timing is essential; all of our run-throughs have been at the upper limit of the time bound for each Act, and we wanted to make sure we were going at a proper pace. Personally, I was most concerned about Christina’s continuity in reading, because she often struggles to get her words out, and mixes word order. I coached her quietly in the vestibule before she made her entrance–“Remember, they won’t know if you skip a word here or there, or if you change a word or two. Just keep going, try to read as clearly as you can, and don’t give up.” She then went out and gave what was, in my opinion, her best two performances as the Clown yet. She had a few small reading hiccups, but she took my advice and made minuscule alterations as she went, which improved her clarity dramatically. She also projected her voice louder than anyone else performing, and was very attentive to the way in which she entered and exited the stage. I am so proud of Christina today!
Talia’s confidence is also growing after today’s performance. In previous rehearsals, she would sometimes appear reluctant to participate, but after successfully entering on her cues and reading her lines with what clarity she could manage, she even exclaimed at the end of the first run-through: “That wasn’t so bad!” We were all pleased to hear that she felt more sure about the performance after that.
Charles and Rufus are as attentive as ever, and are the clearest readers of the group. Charles is so sweet and gentle, and Rufus just has a spunk to him that makes me crack up every time he starts reading his lines. Both of them seem to need the least assistance out of all the group members, and I have no worries about either of them for Friday.
Dale is the final concern. Today he was particularly energetic and goofy, so his focus was especially impaired. Even when he was seated and calm, he struggled to follow along with the script and pay attention to what lines and cues were being delivered. With Jacob most likely portraying Sir Toby on Friday, he will be able to guide Dale (Sir Andrew) onstage during the performance, with some discreet prompting. However, I think it would also be wise to have either Natalie or myself in the vestibule and having him standing and ready, several lines before his cue. He is not the fastest or most reactive mover, so we will have to compensate for this. I think that, with the appropriate coaching, Dale should do fine on Friday.
Our setup of the props seemed to work well. I think Act 4 will do splendidly. Can’t wait for Friday!