This week, we were ready to go with name-tags, role descriptions, scripts, etc. We had the ideal divisions of groups set. We arrived at Henderson to a game of trivia being hosted with what looked like multiple groups of Henderson after school classes. There were 15 scholars lined up on stage and each one would be called one at a time to answer true or false to a fact about the US. Everyone in the audience would applaud if the scholar answered correctly, and if they were incorrect scholars would shout, “its okay!!” It was really cute to watch them answer so many correctly and show great sportsmanship if they were incorrect.

Because it appeared to be more than just one class of scholars at Henderson’s after school program, the room was a lot louder than usual. It was fascinating to watch the teachers calm down the room by shouting certain commands that they would respond in sync to. One of these teachers graduated from Jepson. She spoke to us during orientation about how she loves being able to directly apply what she learned as a leadership major at Richmond to this after school program. She is a leader within the organization and a leader among the students. It was cool to see her actually implement a lot of what she told us to do at orientation. I have been using a lot of her tips and have seen great results. For example, she told us to say, “on three, I want you to quietly, take out your notebooks and write one thing you learned today. Okay, one, to three.” The italicized can be substituted for anything that you want them to do, but you must explain how (quietly, quickly, etc.) and what, with good instructions of the task.

After we watched 30 minutes worth of trivia, we were able to get a hold of our site contact person to ask when we would resume practice. She apologized and told us they were not having that today. She then told us the following week we would not have practice either. We began to worry about when we would be able to get enough practices in before the play, and she told us we would be able to come in on a different day. We plan on going in on a Thursday, probably the week following Thanksgiving.

This week, Jessie received a text from our contact person saying we were not having regular rehearsal hours and that there was not an activity for us to come to with the scholars, so we did not go to Henderson. A blessing for me, because it was B-Schools second wave of midterms and I had a lot to study for. However, we were so ready to show our scholars actual Shakespeare texts 🙁

We planned out that we were going to divide our script into three parts so that we can have three waves acting out each character. Since our act does not have that many characters, and we have 25 scholars, it made the most sense for us to do it this way. Again though, this is just a trial and error – what seems to make sense in our heads may not play out as planned. We also got ready to make nametags for the scholars and we would try to divide them up into roles with a lot of speaking and roles with little speaking, depending on what each would prefer.

The most frustrating part about practice being cancelled is that we have fresh ideas to improve from the previous session, which is now three weeks in the past. It is impossible to ask scholars to recall what went wrong or what they need to do better this week, because they simply do not remember that the last rehearsal we had was just me.

For our next session, I want to begin with ground rules, that the scholars and Jessie Carolina and myself agree with. I think this is a great way to hold them accountable for their actions. A punishment for disobeying a rule they generated could potentially result in them sitting the rehearsal out.

As there are limited weeks left before the show, I am excited to get the scholars hands on Macbeth. I think their enthusiasm will make for great actors and actresses.

Today we had both of our main characters present for the first time in three weeks! We were finally able to block our fight scene, which we had been putting off since participants had been absent. We spent most of practice today talking about the fight scene and seeing how it should be blocked. None of us have blocked a fight scene before, so it took some creativity and imagination! Juliana gave a great suggestion on how the scene should look and after trying the blocking it looked great! Everyone clapped once the scene was over because it looked so good! It is exiting to see the participants still engaged and excited to be at practice.

We did have a few missing people today, which is usual, so we were not able to do certain scenes. The rest of our practice was spent going over previous blocking and practicing the scenes with the actors we had present! I filled in lines for two characters which was fun! At the end of the rehearsal, we got into a discussion about how Shakespeare wrote his plays about history and how this one is about King James. They were very excited to talk more about this and get into a discussion on why Shakespeare writes the way he does. We talked more specifically about the representation of Lady Macbeth in the play and what Shakespeare was trying to say about women with her character. Hopefully, we will have more discussions like this in the future! We will not be meeting next week, because most of the participants are going to be out of town and they asked to skip next weeks rehearsal.

The kids were a little wild on Thursday. It was difficult trying to get them to sit down and focus. We played Bullfrog again, which is a big hit with them, and then we split off into groups to work on specific scenes.

The tough thing about Macbeth is that other than the witch scenes, most of the scenes are just people standing around talking, so it can be hard to tell the kids how to act it out. I tried to explain the scene a little more as they went, so they would know what they were saying and give them suggestions about who to face when they talked or small gestures that could emphasize what they were saying. Like I said, the kids were unfocused today so working with one specific person at a time caused the rest to scatter and run around.

Overall though I think it was good to have the kids up and actually acting out their lines because the show is coming up quickly. Hopefully we can do better about keeping everyone engaged as everyone learns their roles and we have to spend less time on kids individually. Everyone still seems pretty excited about the play though, so hopefully that continues as we go.

We had another great week with the kids. Today the kids said they wanted to play Charades instead of Bullfrog so we went with it. It was a good way to get them to try to act something else, but a lot of them seemed embarrassed to participate even though they wanted to play in the first place. I think that happens a lot with our group because we have a group of girls who have formed a little clique that doesn’t really buy into what we’re doing, which was especially difficult today.

We were doing a run-through to try to get the kids used to Shakespeare’s language and reading their lines. Most of these girls only have small roles (a couple lines or even just a non-speaking part) because they said from the beginning that they didn’t want lines. Because of this, they’re not as involved in what we’re doing, and they can be huge distractions to the other kids. In the future, we’ll need to work on trying to keep them more engaged by splitting them up and working in smaller groups.

Other than that, this week went well. We cut down the script a lot before this week, and everyone seems to be much more comfortable with their lines now that there aren’t huge blocks of text. Next week we’ll try to be more active and get the kids to start acting out their parts.