I thought that Friday’s performance was a huge success! The crowd was much larger than I expected, and every act really lived up to the high expectation I had been reading about in weekly blogposts. Well done everyone! While I am inherently biased, I was very pleased in our act. We had five students ultimately show up to the performance; Adrian (Duke Orsino), Jeniah (Olivia), Tamaiah (Viola), Marcus (Officer, Sebastian, and Fabian), and Khalil (Antonio, Sir Toby Belch). We were all rather surprised with Khalil’s attendance as throughout rehearsal he insisted that he was not going to come to the performance. However, we were very happy that he finally decided to attend. When the students first arrived, they were rather shocked as to the size of the crowd (we were as well). This kind of came back to bite us as throughout rehearsal, when students would ask us how many people were going to be there, we would respond with “not many”. We did this not only to keep the nerves of the students at ease, but also because we actually thought there were not going to be many people at the actual performance. It is evident now that we thought wrong. After initially greeting the students, we then showed them some of the props that they would be using throughout the show. While we brought many props to rehearsal, the students were still interested in adding final touches to their costumes. The props ultimately proved to be both beneficial and distracting for our overall performance. For one, they really seemed to get the students excited about the show. Adrian really liked wearing his crown, and the gold chains were a very big hit for the students. However, given that there were only two gold chains, there were clearly not enough to go around. Thus, when Khalil got to wear the money chain, Adrian became very upset as he wanted to wear the same chain. In addition, Adrian could not decide as to which mustache to wear during the performance. While we tried to tell him that this was rather unimportant, he insisted that he needed the right one to do well. On the plus side, however, Marcus and Jeniah were both very excited about their make-up. Marcus had a beard drawn on his face, that he was clearly very excited about. He even told me at one point that he was “going to wear it to school the next day”. Evidently, he must have forgotten that the performance was on a Friday, and the next day was Saturday.
After we finally got set up with our props and make-up we did one final run-through of our act. A lot of the lingering problems such as word pronunciations and stage movements that we had really attempted to work through in our rehearsals were still posing an issue, however, at this point it was much too late to really correct the students, so I just told them to simply skip over a word if they could not pronounce it. Additionally, we still had a problem with students wanting to sit down frequently during our act, given how long some of the students would consecutively be on stage. Again, I told them that I would like to remain on stage for as long as possible and to ensure that they read all of their lines. I also told them that if they get tired, they can sit down in the pews on stage, and come back on stage if there is something they urgently need to ask. Even with all of these hiccups, however, I thought our final run-through went pretty well. It was evident that at this point nerves and excitement were really starting to set in. On the one hand, the students showed a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in this rehearsal. On the other, you could tell that they were extremely nervous and tensions were rather high. At multiple points during this final rehearsal, Adrian fumbled with his lines, insisted he wasn’t ready, then walked off stage in a very dramatic fashion. Given these nervous existential crises, however, he always was able to come back on stage and finish out his performance.
After we ran through our final practice, it was finally time for the show to begin. We had all of our roles assigned, with Jacob and Dylan being confirmed as Feste and Malvolio, respectively, all of our students were there with their respective roles, TJ would serve as the “attendant”, and I would read the lines of Sir Andrew. As we watched the other performers, I was really glad we went last. I thought that it really calmed our students down, and set their expectations up nicely. Throughout the show, however, one problem that was evident was that students were not projecting their voices. Thus, during the show, as well as in our brief time backstage before our performance, we really tried to emphasize to the students to speak loudly. Finally, after long last, it was our time to perform.
Our performance, in my opinion, really went smoothly. Given how “silly” some of the performances were at times, it was really evident how seriously the students were taking the performance itself. This was especially evident in Khalil. Throughout rehearsal, Khalil would frequently stumble with words, and forget which part he was playing. However, during the show he had no such problems. While he did again stumble with some words, I was very proud of his resilience, especially in his long monologue as Antonio in the beginning of the show. One problem that we discovered early on, however, was that our students were not speaking loud enough. This was extremely hard to address, given again, that many of our performers did not come off stage the entire scene. Thus, it was really hard to tell them to speak louder, given that we could not go onstage. Additionally, in our performance, our students randomly would enter and exit the stage. This was, again, a result of students who were supposed to be on stage the entire performance, leaving if they had a gap in lines. Finally, after the students read all of their lines, it was time for our song and dance. It was really obvious that the students were nervous at this point during the show. While in rehearsal, they would really enjoy doing the dance, they looked very stiff out there for the actual performance. In addition, their nerves were evident, in their expulsion of energy and apparent relief as soon as the show ended. At that point, they finally decided it would be appropriate to dance. Looking back, I was extremely pleased with the performance. It was very bittersweet, and somewhat strange knowing that next week, I will not be going to Youth Life to teach the students that we had grown rather close to during the semester. After the performance, Adrian said that he would miss having his “friends” teach him every week, and Khalil shook each of our hands and told us how he was so glad he chose to do theatre. At that point, I realized, regardless of how the show went, we really had a successful night, and semester at large. In seeing how proud these students were of their performance, from all acts, and the bonds that had been made throughout this entire project, it was clear to me that the show was a great success, regardless of how it actually turned out. Again, I cannot express enough how happy I was to be a part of this show, and project at large.