Our group was very sad to get the email informing us that production has been cancelled. After putting in 9 weeks with these students its unfortunate that we would be able to see the final production. While we were sad to see the show cancelled, we did have some serious concerns about being able to field a full or even partial cast. Between behavioral problems and other complications, our cast was constantly changing and usually shrinking. Despite this, we had some students who were seriously getting into their roles and enjoying their characters. Some of our last practices were our best as we were finally able to get some stage directions down and do complete run throughs of scenes.
Overall this has been a great experience. While I would have loved to have a consistent group throughout our whole time there, I think we were able to do a good job with what we were given. Given our constantly changing group of students, we made one of our priorities to make sure that the students knew what was going on in the play rather than just have them read words they dont understand off the paper. I think in this regard we were very successful. We had students really grasp the concepts we were explaining and they were able to communicate the message in their own words. Outside of our students, I think this was also a learning experience for the four of us. This project required much more patience than I would have initially thought and was filled with setbacks. That being said, I think we did a great job overcoming all this and really connected with the students over the 9 weeks. This was a great project overall and it is too bad the final show never got put on.
I woke up this Friday morning and went to my 10:30 class. As I was leaving the class room to head back home to shower, change, eat lunch, and then head to the performance, I received a text message from one of my friend that said it was suppose to snow. I first laughed and thought “no way we get more than a dusting”. As I continued to head back to the apartments I checked weather.com and saw that we were suppose to get 1-3 inches. For Richmond, that is a lot of snow. When I read this, I immediately thought about our production being cancelled, but I honestly did not think that was going to happen. Once I was home and had relaxed for a little bit, I checked my email and saw that Dr. Bezio had emailed us. Again, this email was a “up in the air” email, she said things might be cancelled. I was sad when this was a possible thought coming from my teacher, rather than the thought just coming from my head. From this point on, I literally checked my email every 5 minutes and was texting my fellow directors.
When we got the email that said the performance was cancelled I was immediately heart broken. First, I was sad for our scholars, especially for our Macbeth. Macbeth had worked so hard, was so invested, and was so creative when it came to acting. He was so excited every time we had rehearsal and I felt like we let him down. Next, I was honestly disapointed for myself, Natalie, and Grace. We had spent so much time with these kids and I really felt like I bonded with them. I am really hoping I am able to work with Higher Achievement next semester to keep these relationships alive.
Overall, this experience was unique and I learned a lot. I loved bonding with the children and creating relationships. I really learned how to be patient, how to tame a rowdy group and how appreciate the good fortune that I have.
With only one day until the performance, we needed a very productive rehearsal to get everything ready and into place. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and we were not able to start the practice until 12:30 since the chapel was locked. Once inside we got even more bad news. We found out the Christina, our Lady Macbeth and best actress, has been having behavioral problems and was pulled from the performance. Additionally, we found out that Deandre would most likely not be able to make it performance on Friday night. However despite the bad news we assigned everyone parts for the day and did a read through of the first scene trying to focus on the staging. Despite the short amount of time and the limited cast, this actually went very well. Deandre seemed to really get into his role and began acting rather than just reading the words off the page. This enthusiasm definitely translated into the other actors and they began to come out of their shells a little as well.
Its a shame that this was our last practice because this 20 minute rehearsal was some of the best work we’ve done to date. Going into the production my only concern will be getting enough people to fill the roles. We have soft commitments from two students who have smaller parts and nothing more than that. Even if we only get 2 students I think we will be able to put on a show that focuses on them and allows us to take more supporting roles. These students have been in and out but I think they would be able to adapt to whatever circumstance we have to work with on the day of the production.
This week we were excited to head over to Boushall for our last practice before the big performance. We finally found a tactic to get the kids to be quiet if they were not on stage acting. We sat them down as if they were in the audience which we have done before, but this time we bribed them to be quiet by telling them they would get candy at the end. This bribery worked so well. All the kids were quiet in the audience while those that were on stage were acting. Because of this we were able to run through the play so smoothly. It made me feel so confident that the kids were ready for the big day.
Not only were the kids acting skills on point this week, their enthusiasm was there too. Three kids said that they had not turned in their permission slip but that they wanted to go to the performance really bad. They asked for another permission slip and promised they would bring it back tomorrow so they could participate. Other kids that had said from the beginning that they did not want to act or that they did not want to have lines, decided out of no where that they wanted to act and have lines. This was so exciting for Natalie, Grace, and I. We were excited that the kids wanted to take part and act now.
At the end of rehearsal, the kids were so excited for the big day. They said that they were all going to get good nights of sleep and that they would come the following day all ready to act. I was so pleased with this rehearsal that it made me so excited for the performance the next day.
I am sad we were unable to have our final performance. Our kids worked so hard all semester, and they were so excited for tonight. Even though we didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye and finish out our time together, I think we ended on a good note because our last practice was so great, and we gave them a chance to run through the whole play just like the real performance.
My biggest concern for the final performance was that we wouldn’t have many kids show up. They all seemed excited, and the kids who hadn’t yet turned in their permission slips seemed intent on bringing theirs today so they could still participate. We would have definitely had our Macbeth and Banquo though, so that would have been great for the performance because they were our two strongest actors, and I’m sure everyone would have been entertained by their British accents.
I was also worried that the students wouldn’t pay enough attention and know when they were supposed to be on stage. The final practice we tried to run through the whole thing as we would for the performance, but before each scene, we had to stop and tell them who needed to go on stage. I was nervous we would have to do that and interrupt the flow of the play since a lot of our kids were in scenes back to back, so we couldn’t prepare them for the next scene as they were still acting out the current one.
Overall, I think our kids would have stepped up to the challenge of filling in the roles of their classmates who didn’t come, and though it might have gone a little long, I think our part would have gone pretty smoothly. I’m sad our kids didn’t get to show off how hard they have worked this semester, but I’m glad I got to work with them. It was a great experience.