This week was a very exciting rehearsal! We finally have everyone casted and started to begin blocking and working on the acting of the scenes. We were missing a few people who had main rolls, so we had to fill in and read lines. This made it a little difficult to see how every scene would look because we did not have the characters acting their parts. Hopefully, we will have everyone at the next rehearsal and can see what a full run through of our part will look like!
One exciting part of having the OSHER participants, is that they want to have in depth discussions on the characters and what the motivations are behind what the character is saying. This makes rehearsal really fun because we can talk about what we have learned in class about Macbeth and then have discussions with the participants on what they think is going on in that scene. We were able to go into how you can ascend to the throne and why Malcom couldn’t kill Macbeth and become king. This discussion helped the participants understand what kind of emotion they should be putting into certain lines.
After doing a run through, OSHER participants like to receive feedback. The main critique we were able to give them is they need to be louder and they cannot turn away from the audience. Rachel talked with them about how they can improve in these two areas!
This rehearsal was so fun because we started to use props and there was a sword fight! I cannot wait to see what happens next week when we (hopefully) have a full cast!
This week was a surprise. I printed out enough copies of the first scene to have one for each student, as well as a copy for us. My plan was to begin rehearsing the first scene and to get each of our actors more accustomed to speaking and to their parts. However, the Villa never fails to be exciting.
This week, when we arrived, Ms. Talia was not in attendance. However, five new students had joined our ranks! Timone Brown is a force of nature when it comes to getting students to participate. My own talent with names never fails to astound me, and I have proceeded to forget almost all of their names. I hope that this will not make me look like a fool when we return to the Villa tomorrow.
These new people are exceptionally good at speaking! The noteworthy Mr. Jeremiah, who began by saying that he was not interested in any lines whatsoever, proved to be the most capable actor we have seen yet. We hope to see him become MacBeth, but it remains to be seen if he will even attend the next rehearsal. Of those who have stuck with us through multiple sessions, we still have Mr. Kurntz, Mr. Derek, and Ms. Christina.
I realized this week that I am not prepared to deal with special needs students. While speaking to Kurntz, Jimmy made a slightly confusing statement. Kurntz proceed to make it a major issue, demanding that Jimmy apologize and remember to “maintain his grammar”. My immediate response, which I buried, was to call out Kurntz and provoke an argument. Jimmy masterfully disarmed the situation: it is clear that his prior experience with special needs children makes him a very valuable member of our group. I was silent, but I was glad that Jimmy was able to easily deal with a situation that, while minor, was something I fixated on.
Every week we go to the Villa we a surprised with a mix of new students and some but not all of the old students. This week we had four new students that were required to be there by Timone. While fairly uninterested at first, over the course of the session they seemed more into it. For example, a new student named Jeremiah, first said he would be interested in a part that had no lines at all. However after reading the script with the rest of his peers and discovering he was one of the best readers, he felt much more comfortable with the idea of having lines. Derek was the same go-with-the-flow guy he always is and seemed to enojy reading his lines and becoming more familiar with his character of Banquo. Christina has settled into her role as lady Macbeth as well and seems to be enjoying the readings. Since we have had a new group every week, we are having trouble assigning smaller parts to students because we are unsure if they’ll be coming back next week (this week we lost two). While this week we just went though and read scenes together, next week we hope to get more specific and have people begin to play parts although this may not happen if our group is changed more.
Although I was not at Henderson this week, hearing about the experience from Bridget helped us brain storm ways to lead our upcoming sessions. Bridget was alone during this session, which I could only imagine how hard that must’ve been. There are still around 25 students coming each Monday. In Bridget’s session, she told us how she tried to play many games and get the children to read a script (not Macbeth), but had a very difficult time. Despite all efforts, even using games that you needed to be ‘silent’ for, the children were too riled up. Bridget, Carolina and I discussed how we might proceed moving forward. We think that next week we will split the group up into three. We will try to have an equal distribution in each group with kids who do and don’t want big parts. Then, we will assign these groups parts and each of us will be in charge of the individual group. This way, there will be less distractions for the kids and we can get to know them more personally. We also can then focus on specific acts in our scenes that we are assigned. Another thing we brought up was making sure we are strict right off the bat. Bridget described how she had to take away a couple of phones and separate some kids. If we are strict in the beginning of the session on no talking and no phones, then we will hopefully gain more respect.
This meeting was really fun. We did blocking today and made sure everyone was entering and exiting from logical places and avoided the dreaded “stand in a line and read your lines.” We were missing two members so we’ll have to go over it again next week, but it was a very productive meeting. The participants loved talking about different ways to play their characters and we as directors gave them notes at the end which prompted discussion of motivations for characters, which was really fun. Next week we’ll go over the blocking again and choreograph the fight scene.
This past week we did not meet at Henderson because of fall break, but it gave me some time to think of ways we could improve our weekly rehearsals. The scholars have trouble listening to us and staying on task, and although this is getting better, there is a lot of room for improvement. We should continue to use the strategies Higher Achievement has suggested to us such as: “If you can hear my voice clap once… if you can hear my voice clap twice” and giving very specific directions before they get up and move, that way we always maintain control. With such a big group, I think breaking into three smaller groups will be helpful, especially once we begin looking at the Macbeth script. They are very excited about our section of the play, and I hope they remain as positive once they begin speaking the actual script as I know the language will be very difficult for them. We will need to continue to look into casting as we have very few roles in our section and many children want to play these roles. Parts such as porters, murderers and trees will be easy to add. I look forward to the next rehearsal!
At this meeting, we had to do a little bit of recasting as we received a new member!! Everyone seems happy to be participating and I personally think that’s the best part of theatre. This week, we got everyone up on their feet to just start reading while being up and moving about with little to no instruction. Which leads into something that I found really cute and a little funny. The OSHER participants were really, really into getting feedback from us, even though we’re not super qualified directors. They asked for us to give them pointers, not just things like “speak louder” or “stand here” but actual acting tips, which I think is really cool because I (obviously) love theatre and I think this is something that’s probably fairly unique to our group. Next week we formally block the scene!
I wasn’t at the second meeting with the OSHER participants but I heard from my groupmates that they successfully cast our section of the play and that the participants helped in that process so they’d all be happy with their roles. Going forward, I think our plan is to begin blocking the section as well as continue to talk with the participants about props they’d like to use and a few potential costume pieces.
While we did not meet with Henderson this week due to fall break, I did think a lot about how to get the students more involved in the actual acting element. Off of my last post, I still think it will be beneficial to take 20 minutes of the Macbeth film (2010) and show them part of their act they will be performing. Additionally, I think we will maximize efficiency if we split the group into three and each of us takes a group to talk and practice our scripts in a more personalized setting.
However, a new idea I thought of regarding the actual reading of the script was to start the students off with a very basic script. I hope to brainstorm with Carolina and Jessie about a very well known children’s play and we can print out five minutes worth of a script. Then, we can have our three groups read that out as a warm up exercise. As they get more confident reading and acting aloud, we will introduce them to shakespeare writing, because I expect that to be a challenge.
Lastly, I do not think playing a ton of “giggly” acting games will serve us well, because it will be hard to get them to focus on the activity of reading and understanding shakespeare.
I look forward to meeting with them week 4 as we begin reading the script of Macbeth.
This week was great! I am honestly so impressed with the kids we have. They are all respectful, enthusiastic, and have an open mind when it comes to Shakespeare. The attitude of the kids makes going to their school on a cold dark Thursday evening so much easier. I know they will be positive and fun to be around, so missing out on campus activities is not as miserable as I thought it was going to be. I have started to look forward to being around the kids, it is a good break from campus and being around the norms I am use to.
This week we started off with two truths and a lie. It was a great game to get to know the students. They were very creative with their truths and lies. I found out what the kids liked to do for fun, I found out about their family life, and I found out what students in the room were related. After everyone had a turn, we dove right back into reading Macbeth. We finished reading through the play, and for the most part, I think the students really understand what is going on. We then started asking students if they wanted lines or not and if they had a particular character they wanted to be. We had a good range of interests for all the parts. Some people wanted a lot of lines, others wanted to be witches, and some even wanted to be Macbeth. We told the kids we would take their considerations in mind and hopefully type up a casting list this week. We also told them that next week we would start to practice acting out the play. It finally feels like the play is coming together! It is exciting.
Every week I am more and more impressed by these students. They are so smart, good hearted, and kind. It honestly makes my Thursday nights, even if I have to miss fun parties or activities that are going on around campus.