As soon as we arrived today, I was happy to see some faces for the first time in a while, including Destiny, Jayvon, and Keteira, and a couple new ones as well. One of these is James, who has met with the Monday group and played the part of Malvolio, which he may continue with our group. He seemed to be so enthusiastic about the show and eager to contribute, even offering to memorize his lines and ensuring that his friends were speaking loud enough on the stage so that an audience would be able to hear them.

We also had Charles, Talya, Rufus, and Christina, which gave us 8 total people – the most we have had for a rehearsal so far. After our last group meeting, we cut down some parts of the script even further, and changed some words to make it more readable, which helped a bit. We struggled once again with Christina, who really wants to play the role of Olivia, but would have to read a lot of difficult lines that she may not be able to work through, and this was frustrating Destiny, who was playing Viola in Scene 1 where it is just Olivia and Viola speaking. After we got through the scene, Christina walked up to me and told me that sometimes when she doesn’t know a line, she freezes up, so I reminded her that if she just does her best with the reading, and focuses on the acting, nobody will even notices if she messes up a word or two.

Keteira, who played a couple of different roles today, is one of our strongest readers, and she speaks loudly enough that we know we won’t have any issues with our audience hearing her. But since we have a couple of small scenes with only 2 actors on the stage at a time, we had trouble keeping our bigger group engaged and listening to the rest of the act, especially if people were struggling with lines. Thankfully, the last scene involves all of our actors, and people paid more attention.

After the rehearsal, we played a game where one person had to act out specific emotions using only facial expressions and everyone else had to try to guess what they were, which ended up being a lot of fun because some people, like Charles, got creative with emotions such as “flirtatious” or “really?”

I would definitely consider today a success, but we know that we have a few things to do in order to make sure we have a seamless performance. With one rehearsal left, the day before the actual show, we have to make sure that people know which (or have an idea) role they will be playing, which scenes they are involved in, and which costumes/props they will need. I think it might be a good idea to print different scripts with different roles highlighted in each, that we people don’t accidentally miss a line or forget to walk on/off stage when they need to. I am glad that our actors seem to be looking forward to the performance, and I know that when we meet next, they will be really motivated to learn because it will be their last chance to perfect their roles and lines.

Last week when we met with the students from St. Joseph’s Villa, we were surprised to see that we had a couple more new students, Christina and Dale, but were missing our core group of Aicha, Keteira, Jayvon, and Destiny that we had since week 1 or 2. The only constant actor who we have had for every week is Charles, who is extremely well-behaved when we meet, and is usually quick to make a joke, but he was in a bit of a sad mood due to the recent passing of his grandmother.

We worked on reading lines, and rehearsed all of our scenes. One issue that we noticed is that both Christina and Dale could not read at the same level as the rest of the students, so Christina became frustrated both in her own abilities, and in the abilities of Dale. We worked past this by talking to Christina, telling her to focus less on the content of the lines, and more on the acting and the delivery of the lines, which she enjoyed, and acting out certain parts of the scene and moving around gave her more confidence in her own ability. Rufus also began to get frustrated, and even though he is a great reader, he may lose his focus if things are not going smoothly around him.

In all, this week honestly felt like it may have been a step back for us, mostly because we haven’t a consistent group, which makes it challenging to make sure that everyone is on the same page with roles, stage directions, and important plot points. I spoke to Timone a bit toward the end of the session, and asked him if he thought that the other students we were missing would be able to come for the remaining 2 sessions and the show, and he basically told me that it is hard for him to tell since students often won’t come in on certain days and he can’t do too much about it.

It is seeming more and more like Act III will be patched together at the last second, but Lexi, Eliza, and I are going to continue to make preparations so that we are ready for whatever situation we are faced with.


This week’s rehearsal got us one step closer to being performance-ready. Marcus and Khalil were absent so we were able to work more closely with Janiyah, Tamiya, and Adrian. We went through each of their lines to make sure they could pronounce each word and worked more on the proper inflection and tone of the words. Adrian has memorized a decent amount of his lines, which is very impressive. The girls were thrown off a bit when they were reminded that their characters were both ending the play involved with one of the boys, but we reminded them that it was just pretend. The girls are also excited about wearing costumes. To end rehearsal, the students decided on the song for the end of the play. They all knew a dance for one song, “Juju on that Beat,” so all of our characters will end the show on stage doing that dance. We only have two more rehearsals left but in terms of knowing lines, our students are in good shape.

It was great being back at St.Joseph’s this week! We worked with three students I had never met before and one student who was at the last session I attended. When we walked in, one of the students (Rufus) was playing the piano. He was very talented and told us what his favorite songs to play are. It was clear that he was excited that we were interested and that he was proud of his skills. Lexi, Matt, and I commented that it would be great if he could play the piano either at some point during the performance or as the audience entered the venue.

All four students had also worked with the Monday group (ACT IV) so they were familiar with the plot and the characters. This was very helpful because we were able to jump right into physically acting out ACT III. Matt and I worked with Cristina and Rufus on the Viola and Olivia exchange in Scene I, while Lexi worked with Dale and Charles on Scene II. It was nice to have such a small group and be able to split up like this because we were able to give the students very personal attention. Cristina and Dale struggled a bit with reading through the lines, so as we went through I circled all the words they had a hard time with. In class yesterday, Lexi and I went through the script and attempted to change some of the words that they were struggling with to make it more approachable.

The only issue we really ran into was Cristina calling Dale – who had the most trouble with the script – slow and stupid. Dale didn’t take her comments personally and was able to keep his sense of humor – even saying “excuse me” after every time he mentioned his character (Sir Toby Belch). This provided us all with quite a bit of entertainment, and hopefully we can utilize Dales sense of humor when assigning him a role in the final production.

Overall, it was a productive hour, and I think we all learned a lot about what our roles are going to be in the final production. Some of the students will not need our help at all but others may need more guidance and direction during the performance. It is a little bit difficult working with different kids each week because the work feels inconsistent and progress isn’t very visible, but hopefully we will have a great showing for the final performance. At least we know the students are enthusiastic and willing to roll with the punches!

Caroline was unable to attend this week’s session, so Aleeza and I ran rehearsal. When we first arrived at Boushall, Mr. Allan was in the middle of a game on politics with our group of students as well as the rest of the after-school students. Therefore, we did not begin rehearsal until about 6:30. When we finally had the students to ourselves, Aleeza and I brought them to the Choir Room, which allows for a lot of spread-out space to move around and act. The kids begged to play one round of “Zip-Zap-Zop” before we began rehearsing, so we did exactly that. Two of our boys and 1 girl were missing from the group, so we had about 9 students all together. 3 of the boys that were present at rehearsal refused to be calm, participate, or be respectful. Mr. Allan happened to wander by our classroom and set the boys straight, so they weren’t as disruptive throughout the remainder of rehearsal (sort of, kind of). Once “Zip-Zap-Zop” was over, we called on a few students to come to the center of the room and read through Scene 1. While running through the scene, the few disruptive boys failed to pay attention and distracted the readers. They did this throughout Scene 2, and part of Scene 3 as well. During Scene 2, while one boy was reading, he said, “This is not English. There is no way a human wrote this. An alien wrote this.” Aleeza and I attempted to explain the concept of Old English, but this boy either did not understand or did not care. We did not have time to run though all of Scene 3, so the students read the first half of it. With 5 minutes left of rehearsal, we played the theater game “Museum,” because the students refused to go through any of the scenes unless Aleeza and I promised to play “Museum” with them at the end of the session. During the game, one student tripped on a chair and got hurt, so I brought him to see Mr. Allan as the rest of the students began to laugh at him. Mr. Allan was not happy that the students made fun of him, and didn’t seem happy with our session whatsoever, so before Aleeza and I left, he and Aleeza exchanged phone numbers and said he would call her the following day to go over some tactics on how to better control our wild students.

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.