This week once again went well! It is exciting that every week keeps going well; it is making me very excited to start seeing everything come together. We started this session off with an improv game. The kids were not a huge fan of it. Most were uncomfortable making things up on the spot. They were excited in theory about the game, but then definitely got stage fright when they started the game. This was actually a surprise to me because they have been so good about reading their lines. They definitely prefer to have lines in front of them to read rather than make things up on the spot.
After the improv game, we assigned parts. This went really well. Everyone was happy with the part they got. Some were excited the did not have lines, some were excited they had main parts, and others were excited to be witches. I was relived that I did not have to deal with any complaints. We then started to read the script for the first time as a whole group and a first time as being characters. Macbeth blew my mind. He belted out in an amazing British accent and read his lines fluently in the accent. It was very impressive. After getting through a majority of the script, we handed out the posters. This made the kids so excited about the performance. I am really hopeful that the kids enthusiasm sticks for the rest of the winter. I hope there are not any no shows during the actual performance and I hope the children’s parents are on board with the play as well. They children asked to take home the scripts so they could practice their lines which was adorable. It shows they are dedicated and willing to work on their lines so the play turns out as well as it can! Fingers crossed this week goes smoothly as well.
As I seem to say in every blog post, this week was a huge improvement on the last few. I’m learning that the relationships the students have with us is much more important than the relationship the students have with the material. At first, I wondered if the students’ apprehension was fueled by disinterest in Macbeth, but have grown to realize that the apprehension is simply a product of not being comfortable around us. Now that we’ve begun to forge somewhat personal relationships with these students, they seem considerably more interested. I try to make a comment about something personal to each student throughout our sessions, and I think them knowing that I have individual interest in each one of them is really important.
Hopefully, this was the final week of casting. We’ve been having trouble finding a Macbeth, as our Macbeth’s have either been kicked off of the company or grown uncomfortable with the amount of potential lines. Thankfully, an awesome and enthusiastic young man named Deandre decided to join us this week. When he came in, I could feel his enthusiasm for the project and almost immediately knew that he genuinely wanted to be there. With that, I asked Deandre how he felt about the play and acting in general. He responded by telling me he doesn’t have much familiarity with Shakespeare or on-stage acting, but he is excited about the project. So I asked, “Would you be comfortable with a lot of lines, maybe as a main character?” Deandre responded extremely gratefully by saying, “If you’ll allow me,” as a smile stretched across his face. With that, we sort of finalized our casting.
Now, and I think this is something the students are actually looking forward to, we get to employ some of our more creative urges. When leaving we announced that we would be talking about props the next week and everybody kind of lit up. They’re really eager to have their own input, their own fingerprints, on the production and I am really eager to see how they want to construct some of this. Its become clear that we aren’t going to make progress if the other mentors and I decide what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. For that reason, I am really looking forward to seeing what these kids and their imaginations have in mind. Tomorrow should be an interesting day!
This week, we focused in on cleaning up some particular scenes. While we got the blocking (entrances and exits) down last week, we narrowed in on the particulars of the blocking and actions within each scene this week.
We ran through our first scene once, then started a discussion on what could be improved. We are lucky to have engaged participants who critique each other and actors who welcome criticism. Many of the participants who were not acting in the scene watched and gave tips on stage directions, emphasis on certain actions and lines, etc. Our group gave advice based on in-class discussions of the plot/themes and our own interpretations of each scene, advising our actors on what their characters were actually saying and feeling.
We ran through the first scene again, and it had improved dramatically based on our discussion! We followed the same process for a few more scenes, getting about half-way through our section by the end of practice. I think we will continue this process next week, because it seems to be working quite well.
One issue we encountered this week was that Bill B, one of our participants, has been absent for the second week in a row, after telling us last week that he “lost track of time”. We have had other actors taking his roles for the past 2 weeks, and have prepared these actors for the possibility that if Bill does not return, they might adopt these roles permanently. Another participant expressed her concern that Bill is not committed to the project, and is not as great a reader as the rest of the group. We encouraged her that we would talk to Bill and figure out his situation.
Overall, we are making great progress. The group seems to be practicing outside of our rehearsal time, and other than Bill, everyone seems very committed and excited about how the project is coming along!
This week we continued to block our scenes for Macbeth. We gave the Osher participants an opportunity to contribute to the staging so that they could experience leadership with their roles. The Osher participants were so excited to contribute their thoughts to the staging and we got through blocking for the first two scenes in our section. We also talked about the meaning of each scene and how the staging impacts the significance of the scene. Although we did not get through the blocking for our entire section I think the time we spent going through the scenes in depth and talking about the motivations of each character was very helpful towards the Osher participants’ understanding of the overall play. I am excited to finish blocking our portion of the play during next rehearsal. I am also looking forward to choreographing the fight scene within our section!