As expected we had a new mix of students again today. We lost two from the previous week and gained one more. Despite the changes in our cast we had a very productive week. For the first time, we read through the script assigning specific parts to each person. One of our new members has decided he would like to be Macbeth and was excited and engaged with the scene we read through constantly asking questions about aspect he didn’t understand. As we read through we realized that we had unfortunately cut to many lines from certain character and not enough from others. For example one student named Shakira wants to play the murderer but would like more that the 3 lines she has. In light of this we plan to out more of the murderers lines back in and maybe reducing some of the less important lines of the witches. As a whole though this week was very productive. I think having each person read one character helped everyone engage and start to really understand the script. We as mentors are doing a better job of communicating with the students and I think we are making a lot of progress.

Week four at Henderson was definitely the most challenging it will ever be. It was the first time I was alone. Jessie and Carolina were unable to make rehearsal, so it was up to me to structure and organize the hour and a half meeting. I did a lot of preparation so I could plan it. The three of us had busy weeks so I didn’t get a chance to discuss with them ideas for the session; however, I thought back to my childhood — games that I enjoyed the most, but had the most structure.

I wanted to take this week to ease them into the idea that this was not just fun and games, and that we were actually going to be serious and read from a script. I wanted to teach them how important silence was, how to act in front of each other, and how to read from a script with multiple characters.

Therefore, I started with the game Four Corners. This was good because it placed on student in the middle with their eyes closed, and the other students had to SILENTLY choose a corner. The middle student would listen for the loudest corner and would point to call them out. Whoever was in that corner was out and they had to sit down in the audience. This was great in theory, but after the third round everyone was so loud that I called the came. Students were running around so loud and screaming to distract/confuse the person in the middle.

I brought them back together with a quick round of Bullfrog. This was great because they circled up and they were easier to control in this formation. Then, I numbered them in fours and told the groups to meet in one of the four corners. I then went around to every group and gave them a topic to act out. Then ended up picking their own: Marching band, Teachers, Halloween, and Murderers (because of Macbeth). This was great for the groups to brainstorm what they wanted to do, but they had a terrible time acting this out. The first group went and they were too shy. They were afraid to act in front of their peers. It was also hard to get everyone to listen right away. The next group was so excited to go, but again, regaining the attention of the others was difficult. Two groups got through presenting and I told them if the other groups wanted to go the entire class had to sit quietly. That took forever!

I called that activity early because they were misbehaving. I had them all sit in the audience again in silence and I explained what we were going to do next. I had printed out a spongebob script that was easily split between 5 groups, with each group having 4-6 characters. Each group would get up and read 1-2 pages of the script to the class and jointly, the entire class would read the script. However, getting through the explanation and questions took a long time. As soon as I split them up they went crazy again, so for the last 15 minutes I sat them all back down in silence. I stood there and told them that this would no longer be fun if they weren’t listening, and that we were moving on to harder material next week. I then asked them all to say one thing that didn’t go well tonight and what they want to improve on for next week. I got great responses.

Overall, running the rehearsal alone was a rewarding challenge. I did collect ten phones, but I was also able to get them to reflect on their behavior. Next week, I will open with them recalling what they did poorly this week, and ways they want to make practice more efficient.

I was not able to attend rehearsal this week at Henderson as I was sick. Bridget ran rehearsal by herself and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been as our large group is hard to manage as is with the three of us. They were very poorly behaved and struggled to listen to Bridget’s direction. She had to take multiple phones and re-arrange certain groups of friends that were sitting together. In talking with her and Jessie, we have decided it will be best to break into three separate groups. We will divide the script into three parts and cast within each of the three groups. In doing this, we believe we’ll be able to be more productive and keep better control over the scholars. It will also give more kids opportunities to play the roles they’re interested in. This large groups struggles to listen to Bridget, Jessie and I. I believe that if we are a bit stricter with them, it’ll be easier to get more done during rehearsal. This will also improve the individual relationships we build we the scholars and create a more effective way to explain the themes behind Macbeth. I am looking forward to our next rehearsal and working with a smaller group!