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.
I am bummed that the weather inhibited us from going through with the performance today. I was really excited to see the other acts and how the production was going to come together. I know that, as a class, everyone worked extremely hard on this project. Even though we did not get to see it fully through, it was exciting to go through the experience of directing an act and learning more about how to put on a production.
Throughout the day, I stayed in contact with the OSHER participants and I made sure to email them and call everyone once I found out the production was cancelled. Everyone was a little sad that the weather turned out the way it did but they were understanding.
Today, I think we would have showed up with the OSHER participants at 3pm and gone through our act. We would have finalized any last minute blocking that needed fixing and made sure that everyone felt comfortable in the space and ready to preform! I believe that our group would have loved seeing the other acts and then would have been extremely excited to preform. During rehearsals, some participants were timid at times but I believe they would have really gotten into the performance and made it the best one yet! Ultimately, I think they all would have just had a great time today getting to see the performance as a whole and getting up on stage! I imagine there would have been lots of laughs and excitement. Overall, the JSP was a great experience and I was glad to have a chance to work with the OSHER participants.
It is with great sadness that I write this final blog post because I really do feel bad for our children and all the children that wanted to act this evening. I am disappointed that we will not be able to see all of the parts of the play come together. I am also sad that last night was our last volunteering session and we left the children so excited for tonight.
With that being said, I think tonight would have been a great experience. Based of off last night’s rehearsal, a few of our children were really acting out their lines. Our Macbeth and Banquo actually entered the scene pretending they were on horseback, without us even asking. I think it would have been adorable to see those two actors build off of each other and use their British accents to entertain us all. One thing that was a concern last night and would have been a minor problem today was that one of the children told us that our Lady Macbeth would not be returning to Higher Achievement. We were sad to hear that news, but I am sure that another young lady would’ve stepped up today. One thing that still needed a little work after last night’s performance, which we had hoped to improve today in the final production, was our transition between scenes. It was a bit difficult to get the children to pay attention to exactly when they should enter and exit the scene. I think with a little more practice and nerves this evening they would have nailed it.
It is sad to think about how we will not be seeing our little actors again. It makes me especially sad because it seems like they were finally starting to really appreciate the material and they were having fun! The first few practices were like pulling teeth to get the children to read lines, but last night, as I imagine tonight would have gone, children were laughing and acting out their lines. We were also laughing with them. It was nice to see the culmination of our hard work in our mini-dress rehearsal last night and I know that tonight would have been even more fulfilling. I am glad that I was able to have an impact on children who are at a vulnerable time in their lives. We were able to help them learn how to read Shakespeare! That is a huge feat for a 5th grader. Even though the show did not go on tonight, we still made a positive impact on these children’s lives and I am so thankful for that. Some children even asked if we were coming back next semester to be mentors and I think that says it all. I know we enjoyed teaching them and they enjoyed learning something that was entirely unfamiliar to them. This was a valuable experience and it was great to get to know children in the Richmond area and it was even better watching them grow throughout the semester.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful winter break!
This week was our last rehearsal which is disappointing because I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent working and getting to know our scholars. Splitting our script into smaller groups between Jessie, Bridget and I was the best decision we made. Not only did it allow us to get to know our scholars better, but it significantly increased productivity. This week’s rehearsal went really well and I’m proud of all the hart work they have put in these past few weeks.
We began rehearsal by splitting into our smaller groups and running a few times. My group was very enthusiastic as they had practiced at home and higher achievement. At the beginning of the run through, my students playing Malcom and Duncan told me they would not be at the performance. My porters quickly stepped up into these roles, eager for more lines come the performance Friday. Donovan, who was originally cast as Duncan, decided that he was not going to participate in rehearsal. Tatianna, who was cast as Malcolm gladly continued to participate as a porter. She has been one of my best scholars- she is always excited to be at rehearsal and very focussed. Our run through after re-casting still went well- my new Malcom and Duncan stepped up to the plate!
Next, Bridget, Jessie and I decided to do a big run through with transitions between groups. We also made sure to time it as we were a bit nervous of how long it would take. It went well and I was glad I got to see Bridget and Jessie’s groups. They did a great job! It was just about 16 minutes, which I was surprised by for never having practiced the transitions. We then broke back into our smaller groups to discuss what could have been better. My group decided they would speak louder and put more emotion into what they were saying. They also mentioned that they were proud of their fellow scholars in other groups and that they did a great job. This was very heartwarming to see.
With the little time we had left at the end of rehearsal, we decided to do another run through as a big group. This was our best run through yet! They students not on stage waiting and those not participating listened and stayed quiet. Those on stage spoke loudly and transitions were smooth. Many of the scholars began acting their lines and not just reading from their scripts. It also was just about 15 minutes. In talking to my group after the run through, they were very relieved when I reminded them that they would have their scripts on stage with them Friday. They are very excited to perform and I am looking forward to it.
Dr. Bezio at the end of class Wednesday said multiple students have handed in their permission slips, which finally got to them. This has me somewhat relieved as I was nervous that little to no students would come. Hopefully many of our students come and perform as they have all worked really hard. I can’t wait until the performance!
We had our last practice last night! We took the kids down to the art room after they had some cookies and hot chocolate. We set the room up so chairs surrounded a stage area, so we could run through it completely and give them a better sense for what the actual performance will be like.
We were missing a couple kids, including our Lady Macbeth, but the students stepped up to fill the roles. One girl who had told us she didn’t want a role and then complained the entire time that she didn’t have any lines got to participate last night, and she seemed much happier to be participating. If I were to do the project again, I would try to give everyone at least one line because once we actually started practicing, the kids liked to be involved even if they only had a line or two.
Our group did so well running through the entire thing. They didn’t need much prompting, and some of them were acting things out. Our Macbeth and Banquo are so funny because they both try to talk in British accents and try to be active instead of just standing and reading from the screen. When they entered the scene once, they acted like they were riding on horses without our telling them to. I’ve been so impressed with them throughout this whole time, and I’m excited to see them perform tonight!
At the beginning of the practice, we had promised the kids candy if they were quiet in the audience, and they were so attentive and quiet the entire time. Hopefully they feel prepared for tonight. I’m excited to see how it goes.
This week’s practice was one of the worst we’ve had to date. At a time when we need all the time we can get, desperately preparing for the final performance, Timone did not arrive to unlock the chapel until 12:40, leaving us with only 20 minutes to practice. I wish I could have stayed, like Timone offered, but I had to run to Chemistry lab. This timeslot has always been bad for us, causing us to arrive 10 minutes late. We have been surviving on 50 minutes practices every week and it has been OK. But a 20 minute practice is barely time to do anything.
We learned that Christina, our most enthusiastic actor who plays the roles of Lady MacBeth and Lady MacDuff, is having “behavioral problems.” She was unable to attend this practice and may be unable to attend tomorrow’s performance.
We learned that Deandre, our MacBeth, may be being pulled from the performance by his mother for God knows what reason. This week, he made incredible progress in putting emotion and character into his lines. His skill as an actor doubled in these scarce 20 minutes. I hope that we have him tomorrow.
I worry about props. I worry about casting. I worry that in the end, its going to be Jimmy sitting at MacBeth’s place at the table, Grant and Luke as the witches, and myself as Lady MacBeth. I will be happier when all of this is over.
That being said, if everyone shows up, I am going to be ecstatic. Worst case scenario is not truly horrible and I am excited to see our actors perform. I hope that they will have the chance to enjoy this performance.
This whole project has been less of an emotional roller-coaster and more of a gradual slide into resigned stress. I am not going to forget this one.
This week’s lesson made me very concerned. The practice began with only Nicole and Christina in the chapel. Our final performance being staged by the four of us and Professor Bezio is beginning to look more and more likely.
All of these practices are just exaggerations of the practice before. In each practice, the actors show up a little bit later. In each practice, a group of actors leaves and an old group returns. When we finally finish re-re-re-recasting, we begin to practice and read over lines. This part of the practice is always welcome. Each time we read over the lines, the actors are better able to perform. It seems that we are making truly meaningful progress.
I just wish that we had more time.
We did a mini dress rehearsal today with our kids and it went very smoothly. In the beginning we sat them all down in the “audience” section that we made in the classroom and explained to them that we needed them all to pay attention and be quiet while their fellow actors were acting. We then took the actors behind a whiteboard prior to each scene they were in so it could seem like they were entering onto the “stage”. We also enticed those who were not acting in those particular scenes to be a quiet part of the audience and if they were they would receive candy at the end of rehearsal. This enticement really worked. Our children were quiet and respectful. Some even expressed how they would like more lines and more parts tomorrow if some of their classmates do not show up!
I think overall it was a great last rehearsal. We used props and many of our students seemed excited about the show tomorrow. Even girls who we had trouble with in the past seemed excited because these girls had said how they didn’t want to go or how they thought it was a waste of time, but tonight they were asking for more lines and making sure that they were good to go for tomorrow night. Many students said how their family members were going to come and that their teachers were coming as well. I think we are going to have a good group tomorrow with a great audience. I am excited to see how it turns out!
Break a leg everyone!