Okay, so half of this blog is going to be focused on our final meeting at St. Joseph’s Villa (which was somewhat upsettingly similar to our first meeting) while the second half of the blog is going to focus on how I imagine the performance would have gone had it happened. When I say that our final meeting was unfortunately similar to our first, it simply has to do with the fact that we had no idea who would be showing up. At any given point, throughout the entire semester, we could have lost a Macbeth, a Lady MacDuff, or gained seven people, none of whom would return the next week. It got really difficult to manage casting as students often returned after a few weeks of absences hoping that they would return to the role they left. This usually wasn’t the case as we were constantly filling roles. The students seemed to get upset but I will say I think that throughout this semester the issue of casting actually taught the students an interesting lesson about responsibility and accountability. With the help of Timone giving the kids a hard time about being fickle toward something they had committed to, the kids really started learning about the importance of sticking to their word, or at least they understood that the consequences for not sticking to their word (losing their part) were legitimate.
As far as our last rehearsal went, well, it was a bit of a dud. I will say that overall it was a resounding success because for the first time we were able to sit down at the table and have people sit down, stand up, come, go and speak in the general vicinity of when they were supposed to. Also, we finished our part of the play without any major speed bumps, so I can’t complain. For these reasons, I was really proud of the kids and I think, despite some of their unwillingness to show it, they were proud of themselves. The reason I say it was a dud, though, is that there were some people there we hadn’t seen in weeks, and some that we had been seeing weren’t there. It kind of set us back a few weeks, but with the help of some of our student leaders such as Deandre and Kristina, everybody stayed on track.
One thing that I will say about the final rehearsal, and every other rehearsal for that matter, is that it was fun. And to be honest, in a scenario like this, I’m not sure if there’s anything of higher importance. First of all, it keeps the students coming back and it keeps them from being miserable in your presence, but they also pay closer attention to the material than even they realize. Week in and week out, we kept the energy level high despite the rotating cast of characters. Because of this, students didn’t really get discouraged and even in times of struggle, everybody was able to make jokes and we were able to keep a positive attitude about the performance. At a certain point, the kids aren’t going to be worried about the material. They just want to enjoy themselves. In my opinion, it was our job to make sure that happened as well. Of course we were there to teach the students, and I think they gleaned some important lessons from Shakespeare. But at the same time, we are just 21 year old kids who don’t have the right to demand too much out of anybody, and for that reason we found it was important to be friendly and energetic with the students. I guess I had the mindset that if I wasn’t going to teach them lessons about Macbeth, I could teach them a few things about overcoming anxieties and finishing something you started. If I had a mark in that sense, this was well worth it.
Now, I’d like to make a short note about how I think the performance would have gone. To be honest, I think it depends on your standards. If you want a visceral, persuasive performance of Macbeth you would have been in the wrong place. But if you wanted to see a group of young students overcome their fears and complete something they put a lot of time into, then I think this would have been a resounding success. Regardless of who was going to show up, I know that the kids would have given it their best shot, because those who were there never quit while they were there. A few students definitely would have stood out, as a few of the memorized a couple of their lines. But for the most part, the play would have consisted of rigid, scared kids looking at their lines and speaking too quietly. The important part is that after the play you would have been looking at a group of kids who were proud of themselves, and I would have been proud of them too.