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.
This week we choreographed the fight scene of Macbeth. The Osher participants were so excited to start choreographing this scene and were very engaged. Choreographing the fight scene was difficult because the Osher participants are not required to be off script so we had to choreograph the fight scene while being mindful that they were still holding scripts. We practiced this scene multiple times because we did not want anyone to get hurt in the process of choreographing this scene. We kept the choreography very minimal while still expressing that a battle was ensuing between Macbeth and Macduff. It was great to get the Osher participants’ feedback during this scene so they too could contribute to the choreography of this scene. By far this was the most challenging scene to block because it involved swords and fighting. I was very impressed at how the Osher Participants handled themselves during this scene because it took a lot of trial and error to block correctly. Next week we will not be meeting because it is Thanksgiving week, so I am glad we got to spend an extensive amount of time blocking during today’s (11/13/17) rehearsal.
This week Timone was absent and several of our regular characters were out as well. There were however several new faces as there are pretty much every week. Since several of our already cast characters were gone, we were not able to get as much done as we hoped for this week. That being said, we were still able to give temporary roles and read through two of our scenes. This was the first time we did a reading on the actual stage which was nice because we were able to begin to stage the scenes and get a sense for were everyone was going to be. This also made us aware of some of the difficulties our characters had with understanding the stage directions however I think that with a little practice this will be relatively easy to overcome. Overall though it was great to see some of our actors really get into the play and try and understand their characters. Some of them were trying out accents and working hard to understand and improve on their stage directions.
As we go forward I am hoping we can get a solid cast that will come and participate every week which will help everyone will get a better sense of how the play is going to look when we actually act it out. Additionally, we will try to solidify our time period, theme, and costumes in the near future so we can modify our staging and such to meet those needs. I think overall we are making great progress and will be able to put on a great show come performance time.
This week we had a week off of volunteering because the kids had a half day. We used this time to further discuss how to best go about our next couple of sessions. Carolina, Bridget and I are going through our individual assigned “parts” and getting a good grasp on how we would describe what is being said to children. We are hoping that the splitting of the group into 4 sections ends up working out well. However, we are hesitant because we know there are many kids who do not want a big part. I am hoping that once we start going through the script, the children will be more interested in having a larger part.
One thing about Henderson that constantly intrigues me is that one of the teachers there is a Jepson alumni. She has helped us out in our sessions before, but usually we more see her in passing. I would be very interested to have a conversation with her. I would want to know how she took what she learned in Jepson and applied it to her work at Henderson. We have been trying to take our leadership skills and use them as tools to manage the about 25 children we have. Yet, we still continue to struggle with controlling the group. I would be interested to know what the Jepson alum would have to say about what she has learned and what was the most useful coming from Jepson.
This past week, we finished running through the script in a more detailed manner, picking up where we left off last week. Since we had some members who were not present the week before, we ended up running back through the beginning of the script as well. We focused on cleaning up the blocking, and the participants wrote notes about blocking on their scripts to remember for next time.
One somewhat frazzling part of our practice was the fight scene – we have not yet blocked the fight between Macbeth and Macduff, and the two actors improvised, but came dangerously close to whacking each other in the head or breaking the swords a few times. We will definitely need to work on this scene, and we reminded the actors to cut that part out until we work on it, for safety if nothing else!
A few members are beginning to memorize their lines, which is great. They do not necessarily have the lines down yet, and needed us to feed them lines every so often. I think if they continue to work on it, it will be very rewarding for them as actors.
Overall, the participants are getting very excited to act! They have even asked if we can organize a cast party for the week of the performance. I think this shows their enthusiasm and dedication to making the play a success, and I am excited to see what we all put together.
Tonight was another great rehearsal night! We decided to start off with the fan favorite bull frog game. Our children always seem to love that game because it is mindless and silly. After our brief came we dove right into the script. Our goal today was to get the children standing up and actually acting out their parts instead of reading in a circle with monotone voices.
We split up into groups based on the scene we were acting out, which I think worked really well, but I was also in charge of the smaller groups that only had 5-6 actors. I went over the first scene with all 6 of our witches and they were absolutely loving it. They enjoyed acting how they would throw things into the cauldron and they also liked practicing their entrances to the lightning and thunder noises. We went over Act I Scene I quite a few times and we practiced our best witch voices. I found that my group responded better when I joined them in the acting. After this, we broke up into different groups in order to practice other scenes. I was given a new group to practice Act I Scene II. This group was a little harder to herd together, but we got on a role eventually. I think the hardest part of having everyone standing up and acting is that those without lines or with few lines are either distracting other actors or not paying attention. I think for next class in order to minimize that problem I think we might have to emphasize respect and listening to your classmates. We just have a few girls who think they are “too good” to listen to their classmates so that makes it difficult at times, but those girls are better when they are broken out of their cliques.
Though this wasn’t the most tangibly productive week we’ve had at the Villa, I feel like we got a lot done in ways other than casting and line-reading. Most importantly, it seems that every week we return to the Villa and the kids have a bit more genuine interest in the subject than the week prior. I’m not sure if that is a matter of their comfort with us, or the material, or both, but I now feel like we are getting some well-thought out answers to the questions we ask.
This past week, we took a break from line-reading, which it seemed the kids needed, and talked more about the sort of setting and mood we’d like to aim for with this play. As I assumed, the kids were fairly bored by a historical look at Scottish royalty. Instead, they wanted to modernize their play and roles a bit, instead opting for a roaring 20s, possibly mafia-esque sort of vibe. They seem interested in dressing well, representing a different kind of royalty that could’ve been seen in the early 20th-century United States.
I think this will be the first week that we are able to get this thing off the ground, finally moving toward the stage and starting to set up the physical layout of the scene. Our casting is complete and (I think) the kids now have a firm grasp of the play’s plot, so hopefully we can start to make some real progress as far as putting on a production goes.
This week was uneventful at the Villa. We were in a stance between line-reading at the table and actually acting out the play on stage due to the absence of several of our actors. Because of this awkwardness, the meeting last Thursday was more of a conversation than a rehearsal.
The main topic of conversation was the prop-list. We wanted to talk with our actors about the time period they would like for our performance to represent. We had brought this up weeks ago, but the knowledge that our actors now have of the plot helped them make a decision. After throwing around ideas, we settled on the 1920’s “Jazz Age”. The actors would dress in suits to show their status as “royalty” or “nobility”. I think that this is a great idea, our actors will appear as professionals with a unique idea.
After this discussion of the time period, the actors brought up ideas on how to get our hands on some cheap suits. One of the actors, Deandre, was exceptionally well dressed in a blazer. His friend across the table mentioned a nearby thrift shop that he had found excellent suits in. In addition to this idea, I know that the Villa has an area where clothes are made available for students: it may be a valuable resource in gathering costume materials. I have yet to speak to Professor Bezio about these ideas on costuming.
An uneventful week at the Villa, overall, but I am excited to see what we can achieve with this new framework.
Despite our relatively short sessions I feel like each week I come away feeling like we have accomplished a lot. This week that came in the form of our casting. We had probably 90% of our total cast (which is relatively high for us) and were able to solidify all the roles we needed to fill. While this was great, we accomplished much more this week. Once we finished casting we began talking about the more creative aspects of our production. We first broached the topic of setting and we were excited to see that everyone had something to say. They were making connections to movies and video games that they had seen and getting very excited about the idea of acting the play out in that time period. We also talked about that costumes everyone wanted to wear and everyone was equally if not more enthused to talk about their outfits. The best part of this was it got everyone out of a work oriented mode and allowed us to talk and joke with everyone. While we have been connecting with everyone a little more each week this was by far the most in all our time there. While we didn’t get around to reading the script this week (to the aggravation of some students) we will begin reading and acting next week and I’m looking forward to making more progress.