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!

Unfortunately, this week, we took a few steps back in our rehearsals. Things the last few weeks just seemed as though they were too good to be true at times. While we had made great strides in our line reading the last few weeks with Adrian, Jemiah and Tamaiah, this week we had Khalil back. While it is a pleasure to have Khalil at rehearsal, he can at times be very distracting to the other students, and has a very apathetic approach to the performance. While Adrian, who is currently playing Duke Orsino, is very invested in the performance, Khalil is very much not insisting that he is not attending. Thus, at times durring rehearsal, he and Adrian antagonize one another to annoy one another. This week, Khalil kept yelling that Adrian wasn’t reading his lines clear enough, then Adrian would respond that Khalil couldn’t say “easy” words in his monologue. The two would then proceed to get into arguments, and both were so frustrated, that they could not proceed with the rehearsal. So this week, instead of working on reading our lines, we usually had to divert our attention to breaking up Khalil and Adrian from their continuous arguments.

Another huge setback to our performance was that this week, we learned that Marcus, who was supposed to play a number of roles, will not be in attendance at the performance. This was big for us because Marcus has consistently been a calming presence at rehearsal. Additionally, Marcus has always been willing to pick up the slack when other performers do not want to take on a role, thus his presence in our performance will be missed very much.

Given the setbacks we experienced this week, one positive did come of all of it. Finally, amongst the arguing and joking around, we were able to see some glimpses of passion from our students regarding the performance. We noticed that many of the arguments that were taking place between the students were a result of their passion and their desire for the performance to be good. While this detracted from the rehearsal itself as I outlined above, I thought that it was really cool to see how much the students cared about the performance. This reassured, at least me, that our performance, no matter how bad it may seem in rehearsal at times, will be acted properly and well so long as the students have passion for what they are doing.

After a productive rehearsal last week, our students regressed in our penultimate rehearsal. We were back up to four students from three last week: Adrian, Tamiyah, Janiyah, and Khaleel (he was not present last week). Perhaps it was Khaleel’s presence this week that derailed our productivity. On the whole the group had trouble focusing at the beginning of rehearsal. Unfortunately our rehearsal further regressed as tensions between students flared, leading to some physical confrontations. Such aggression tested Dylan, AJ, and I. Eventually Khaleel stormed out of the room, Dylan left to track him down while AJ and I stayed behind to try to reconcile our rehearsal without Khaleel. Without Khaleel we made some progress, but not at the level of productivity of the previous week. By the time Khaleel and Dylan returned, Khaleel was diffused but disengaged, sitting alone on his phone. After awhile we tried to engage Khaleel with the rest of the group again, but with similar disruptive results. We ended the rehearsal playing acting games, which though fun, do not help us much with only one rehearsal remaining before our performance.

The tension within the group makes things difficult as Khaleel plays two parts in our play. Compounding this problem is the absence of Marcus, a solid student who held three parts and has missed our last few rehearsals. Recently I learned that Marcus will not be performing with us any longer. This leaves us with three students who mesh well and hold the three leading roles of Act V, Orsino, Olivia, and Viola. Khaleel plays Antonio and Sir Tony Belch, important characters who are critical to the final production. But Khaleel’s spotty attendance record and behavioral problems make him hard to count on. He has also claimed he will not come to our final performance. This leaves us needing to rely on our fellow UR students for help with most of the minor characters. Though I am grateful for their willingness to help, I cannot help but wish we could’ve completed the play with only our students. For the most part our students are invested in this play, and do not want to disappoint them.

Week 9 was a tough week for Act V. We were once again missing Marcus, who our students said had quit the play. Khalil showed up late and with a negative attitude. Adrian kept getting distracted from the moment we started. Tamiya and Janiyah were well behaved but did not seem very interested in performing that day. We were making some progress in the script when there was an outburst from Khalil. This culminated in him running out of the room. I followed him while TJ and AJ kept control of the other students. He sprinted down the hallway and into one of the dark hallways downstairs. After a few minutes calling his name to no response, I returned to the room to find that he had already gone back. Rehearsal was tense after that, with everyone afraid to set Khalil or someone else off. It turns out our fear was right, because with only a few minutes of rehearsal left, Adrian was upset by something Khalil said and ran out of the room. I went out into the hall with him and tried to talk him into coming back. He was crying, so I asked what was wrong. He said he was frustrated because he did not think that Khalil was taking this seriously, and that he (Adrian) was taking it very seriously. I told him that he should not let Khalil upset him and that he should focus his energy and feelings on his performance. After reminding him that he has been doing a great job as Duke Orsino, we returned to the room for the last few minutes of rehearsal. Since the students were still not feeling their best, we ended our session with the one-word sentence game. Though I am confident that our students can do this, I am worried that they will not find the motivation or take the performance seriously. We only have one more rehearsal and it is the day before the show, so we are hoping that things can come together before then.

This week was a little bit overwhelming compared to past weeks because we had ten students show up to class. We found it a bit difficult to keep the students focused because only a few of them could be on stage at one time. We also struggled with character assignments because some of the students had already established a connection with one of the characters from past rehearsals, and a few of the students’ choices overlapped with each other. We managed to work it out though, treating the rehearsal as a sort of audition for the parts, and assigning different students to the same character in different scenes. This not only solved the problem of students fighting over a character, but also allowed Lexi, Matt, and I to get a better sense of who we should assign to each role for the final production.
Despite having so many students in attendance, the rehearsal was very productive and we got through the majority of ACT III. Lexi, Matt, and I continued to mark changes as we went so that we can bring the students finalized scripts the next time we meet. These finalized scripts will hopefully be without any of the words that caused many of the students trouble and will make for an easier transition into the final performance.
Our next meeting is (terrifyingly) the day before the final production, so as we left we encouraged the students to practice as much as possible. I suggested that the students who felt shy, and struggled with projecting, should stand in front of their mirrors at home and practice.
Hopefully next week will be another productive one during which we can get a good sense of who will be at the final production, what roles they will be playing, and how much help from Matt, Lexi, and I they will need.

Last week we were unable to have a normal rehearsal since Henderson had a special Thanksgiving Potluck dinner and this week is Thanksgiving Break. My group has been using this time to brainstorm on our final paper. I am excited to finally get back to the group and run through the act with actions, props, and full character(meaning accents and whatever else they think their character needs).

This week we wanted to focus on running through our act as realistically as possible. In the past couple rehearsals, we’d introduced blocking and stage fighting, but these transitions often took up more time than we’d have liked them to. Today, we really stressed that all the students should be reading along to the script even if they weren’t acting at that moment so that they knew when to come on or off stage. This really helped us cut down on time, and we were able to get through our whole act in only 15 minutes. However, this might be because Christina, one of our slower readers, wasn’t there today.

This week, we had Dale (Sir Andrew), Rufus (Sebastian), Charles (Malvolio), Talia (Olivia), and Jacob (Sir Toby). We had them play the same parts they usually did. Jacob, Maddie, and I stepped in for the other roles like Maria/Mario and the clown. Charles seemed a little confused by the roles and wanted to know when they would be finalized. We explained to everyone that the show is a week from Friday, and that while we hoped the roles would be pretty much stable until then, they might change depending on who showed up. We took this moment to explain to them that we only had one more rehearsal after today, so they should act as if it was the real show.

This week went really well. Everyone seemed really comfortable on stage and was paying attention so they knew when to come on or off stage. We also brought a couple props and costumes, and I think having a tangible reminder of the show really helped to motivate them. Our biggest struggle was keeping Dale motivated. During the first run through, he was pretty enthusiastic. However, during our second un through he began to get restless and wanted to know how much more he had to read. This is pretty consistent with the other rehearsals. Once he realizes we’re reading the same lines again, he seems to lose interest. He also was very thrown off by Christina’s absence. Jacob originally stepped into the clown’s role, but Dale was confused because the clown was usually played by a female. In order to get him to keep reading his lines, I had to take Jacob’s place as the clown.

Maddie ended up playing the clown in one of the later scenes, and when she didn’t know the tune to one of the Taylor Swift songs, Charles surprised us all with his performance of Bad Blood. It was one of my favorite moments from the rehearsal. Another funny thing that happened was the way in which Rufus kept track of his lines. While other students were reading their lines, he would follow along by using the tip of his sword to underline the words. I didn’t realize this until later on in the rehearsal, but once I did it was hard to stop smiling. Overall, this was a really good rehearsal. I’m curious to see if we’ll be able to pace ourselves just as quickly once Christina returns. For our next (and last) rehearsal, we might want to cut down on a couple more lines to save on time. We did this during the last work day as well.

Our star student, Christina, was not present today at St. Joseph’s rehearsal! Jacob and I took turns playing both the Clown and Maria (Mario, for a male actor). We had a small group today: Charles, Rufus, Dale, Jacob 2, and Talia were the only students to return. We immediately jumped into performing the entire act, and managed to complete two full run-throughs.

The first run-through went well, and we finished at 14 minutes in total. This was promising, but we have to consider that Christina was not there to read Clown–and she sometimes struggles to get her lines out. We will consider one final cutting of some of her lines, and some of Olivia’s (Talia) lines. But I think we will be within our time bounds for the actual performance, especially considering that Jacob 2 said he may not be there (meaning one of us may take his role, which would speed up the performance, if only marginally).

A bulk of our time was spent today on staging and practicing moving on and off stage. While most of the students did well and responded to the cues appropriately (Charles, Jacob, and Rufus did well), others struggled, largely because they were having a hard time staying focused and reading along with the script while their peers were on stage. I think it would be beneficial for one of us to be in each of the offstage rooms with the students to help them follow along and give them their cues if we think they might miss them. Another component of staging we worked on today was the sword fight in the first scene. I took a moment at the end of the rehearsal to remind our sword fighters to show anger as they entered stage and began the sword fight.

Overall, I felt today was really productive, although I wish Christina had returned. Hopefully she comes back on Monday!

This week only Colby and I were able to go. When we got to the choir room the kids requested to play Zip Zap Zop. After we played we passed out the scripts and asked if they remember which parts they had read the week before. Some remembered, however because not all the kids were there we just asked for volunteers to read parts. We had them start with scene one and stand in the middle of the room to read. We stood with to help them with some of the difficult words. Those that read did great. However, while students were reading the other kids began losing focus. Next time with all three of us there we plan on splitting the group up when going through the scenes. We go through scene three and then we ended with the kids favorite game, the museum game. We are concerned that not all the students are interested in the play. Hopefully the smaller groups next rehearsal will get everyone involved.