Today in rehearsal we only had four Osher participants come. This made it a very interesting rehearsal because we were very limited in what scenes we could rehearse. Despite the lack of attendance, the four participants who did come were so enthusiastic about rehearsing their scenes that it gave us as directors so much energy to work off of.

While we were rehearsing the topic of the d the importance of actors understanding the roles they are portraying came up. We had a lengthy discussion about why professional actors get so invested into their roles and how it aids them in their performances

We also discussed the intentions of Malcolm and how to play the character. We asked the Osher participants what they thought his goals and ambitions were and how that could be portrayed on stage.

All the participants said that after having one of our final rehearsals that they want to return to the text and read the play again to get a better grasp for their characters. The Osher participants also expressed interest in watching a movie version of Macbeth so they could see how others actors portray their characters. I was very pleasantly surprised by how committed the Osher participants were to their parts. I feel very prepared for our final rehearsal next week before the performance and I am very excited and eager to see our Osher participants perform.

Finally, I took a small breath of relief as I left St. Joseph’s Villa this past week.  At last, it seemed as if a (relatively) fully-casted show is going to be possible in the future.  Thankfully, our main roles are being held down by students with intense enthusiasm for their roles.  This week, Kristina asked for a copy of one of the scripts so that she could take it home and practice, and this request was repeated by a few more students.  At this point, it is not only a base interest in the material that I am excited about, but there is actually some growing personal investment in these students.

In my opinion, a large part of this growing interest lies in our commitment to helping the students understand the content of the play.  It would be easy for us, and not so easy for the students, to hand them a packet, have them stand at the end of the stage, and read a series of words from which they can draw little to no meaning.  Now, it seems as though the students are beginning to understand how their characters, and more specifically, their lines, contribute to the arc of the play and the kind of “morale of the story.”

It seems as if our students have reverted from previously wishing for a roaring 20’s approach to our costume and have become growingly interested in the garb of the actual time.  Again, I think this is the product of a growing interest in the play itself, and the students are beginning to feel less and less of a need to PRODUCE something entertaining during this process. Rather, they are becoming entertained by the genuine content of the play.

In writing this, I fear that I am only speaking on account of a few students.  Some students are certainly farther along than others and in my opinion, these last few weeks ought to be focused on some of the students out on the fringe.  We have clearly piqued the interest of a few young men and women whom we have let run free with their enthusiasm.  In the meantime, I’m worried we may have neglected quieter voices.  For this reason, I hope that we create not only a sense of enthusiasm going into next week’s performance, but also a sense of teamwork and harmony.

Unfortunately, we only had four participants show up this week. Only one of the missing participants told us she would be absent, so it was concerning when we waited 15 minutes and no one else showed up. I know our participants have shown a high level of excitement and interest in the project in past weeks, so we are all hoping this week is a fluke (perhaps due to extended Thanksgiving travel plans) and that we will be back in business next week.

Fortunately, the actors who were present had two very important scenes together – the fight scene at the end and the first scene with Malcolm and Macduff. We were able to run through these scenes several times, giving the actors tips, refreshing their memory (the fight scene was a bit off the first time we tried it, but we reviewed the blocking and straightened things out), and discussing the meaning behind the scenes. We had a particularly long discussion about the emotions and intent of Malcolm and Macduff in the first scene. We ended rehearsal by running back through this scene, and I believe it is one of the strongest scenes in our part.

Next week is crunch time, and the final rehearsal before the show. I hope everyone is present so that we are fully prepared to put on the best show possible!

Nov 20, 2017

This week, we did not meet as a group due to our participants’ Thanksgiving travel plans.

In the meantime, our group is working on deciding what else we need to do in the short time after Thanksgiving we will have to finish rehearsing and touch everything up. I think it will be helpful to go through each scene from start to finish, so that the actors will understand the timing of where they need to be when, especially since we will have some additional props next week. I think constructive criticism and tips from us as well as fellow actors will be very important in the next two weeks, and I hope the participants will keep up their excitement and involvement.

Nov 13 2017

Today, we focused on blocking the fight scene between MacDuff and Macbeth. This was a new experience for everyone, so we took any and all suggestions and worked through the scene based on trial and error. I think it is coming along well, and the actors seem to be having fun with it!

I spent much of the rehearsal looking for sound bytes for several scenes in our part of the play that need sound effects. It was difficult to find free effects that were any good, but I searched through many sites to find ones that I think will work. I found a royal trumpet sound for scenes where the king enters, and an ominous “gong” sound for two other scenes. We will incorporate these sounds into rehearsal next time we meet.

We will not meet as a group next week, since many of our participants said they would not be able to make it due to Thanksgiving travel plans. We encouraged the actors to keep working on their lines and blocking!

Today was our second to last rehearsal. It is crazy that next week we will be doing the performance! Our OSHER participants have worked so hard and it is evident in their delivery and knowledge of their blocking. Today, we only had three people show up. This was a little bit of a surprise because the other participants had not communicated to me that they would not be there. We were hoping to be able to do a complete run through of our part but this was not possible due to people not showing up.

Due to low numbers of people, we practiced the scenes with the characters we had present. Since we had the time, we really went in depth with the scenes and made sure the participants were acting with emotion and completing their blocking. We tweaked a little bit of the blocking today to make sure they face the audience and are in the right position at the right time. We also talked about our opening scene and the emotions behind what Malcom and Macduff are saying. We had a conversation about the motives behind the words and how the lines should be delivered. Suggestions were made that the participants look up from their script when they are not speaking to stay engaged in the scene.

Next week, our hope to be able to do a complete run through of our part!

This week we were unable to meet because of Thanksgiving break. This allowed us more time to prepare for our meeting today with the scholars. We will be grouping the kids and assigning their roles today. I am hoping that the children are cooperative as we have a good amount to get done before December 8th. Once the children are assigned their roles, we will start practicing in smaller groups so that the children can hopefully be more attentive. This also allowed Carolina, Bridget and I to better grasp a section of our part of the script. I went through my “part” of the script and wrote down a summarized version of lines that may be confusing. Hopefully the children have a good enough background on Macbeth (though our previous sessions) that they will understand the context of what is going on. Us three are really working on ways to get the children engaged and focused for this session.

This week we did not have rehearsal because of Thanksgiving. I am becoming very anxious with the little rehearsal time we have left. At this point, making up rehearsals on Tuesdays or Thursdays with the group might be necessary. With the many rehearsals we have had cancelled, the scholars will struggle with the script, but I know they will work hard!

I think the plan Bridget, Jessie and I have come up with to break into smaller groups will be very effective with the little time we have left. It will allow us to maintain control over the group, but also give individualized attention to the scholars to help them not only read the text aloud, but understand it as well. We are very organized and determined going into this week. I think the few rehearsals we have between today and the show will be very productive. To do this we must keep the scholars focussed and not allow them to distract each other. I’m really looking forward to rehearsal this week and the final stretch before the show!

Last week Higher Achievement hosted a potluck for the students and their families so we didn’t get to work with the kids, but I have been reflecting about the experience over the past week. I had low expectations for how excited they would be about it from the beginning, but I have been blown away by how enthusiastic the kids always seem to be when we come. Especially since we come at the end of a very long day, the kids have been awesome about still being energetic and still giving us their attention.

I think of how much they’ve improved too. At the beginning, they constantly stumbled over Shakespeare’s language, but now, they have a much better grasp on it. They may not be perfect, but they’ve impressed me with how far they’ve come. We have a Macbeth who speaks his lines in a British accent and many different witch voices, and I’m excited to try to get them to act a little more in the next couple weeks before the performance so when the night comes, they can impress everyone else just as they’ve impressed me.

This week at Boushall Higher Achievement was the annual Thanksgiving feast so rehearsal was cancelled. This was a bummer for us because we could have used the extra time to practice! But hopefully the kids are practicing their lines on their own. I wish we had some way of contacting them to remind them. We are also missing this week as well because it is actual Thanksgiving. That is two Thursdays in a row that we will not have practice. I think we only have one more practice before the show!! That is crazy! We need to gauge costume ideas, make up ideas, and make sure the kids know what they are doing the following Thursday! This will be our last rehearsal before the big show!