We went into this week’s meeting wanting to talk about characterisation, and pinning down some final plot points. The meeting was much more lively than our past ones because the students got really involved in the process of developing the plot. They knew the storyline well enough that they could develop the personalities of our characters a lot more, and they were really focused on how everybody would interact. When we asked them how they wanted Benedick and Beatrice to interact, they had an elaborate scene planned out. It honestly could’ve been a movie plot unto itself. I’ve loved seeing them get more comfortable with us, and claim the project on their own. 


We also asked them who all was interested in a speaking role, or a behind the scenes role. I was really excited because everyone who was in the meeting wanted to have a role of some sort. It was encouraging to see their interest, and learn how they wanted to participate in the project. I felt like through this process we learned more about their personalities, and what they are interested in. I am still blown away by how much knowledge they have about stop-motion, and other filming techniques. 


This weekend I am hoping that we are able to figure out a script, and assign roles to the students. This way we can start to rehearse a bit, and talk about how we want to make this work logistically. I am, however, anxious about how to include the behind the scenes students as we rehearse things.

After missing last week, I was excited to meet the new students added to our group and finally begin getting their input on the scenes.


We started off by introducing myself and noting that one of the five students was absent. After a rocky start (talking about a completely unrelated topic), the children made the decision to combine scene 2 and 3 so that both promposals can be completed at once. After explaining to them what promposals actually were and examples of how these can be done, they selected a football game as the location and method of the promposal in our adaptation. Last week they had decided that the challenge in scene 1 would be a one-on-one backetball challenge and that the way the characters would hear of Hero’s innocence would be through rumors spreading during gym class. During this meeting we also had them open their action figures and draws the two main settings of Act 5- a basketball court and football field.


I am excited to begin practicing the scenes next week and am very interested to see how they will bring their characters to life. This is a funny, creative group of students and I have no doubt we will be able to provide a riveting conclusion to this version of Much Ado.

Instead of rushing to present our abridged script of Much Ado About Nothing to our students, we decided to use this third meeting to gather more information on how the students wanted to revise Shakespeare’s characters. We first began the meeting by reviewing which students had previously indicated their interest in a speaking part and/or in “behind-the-scenes” work (such as drawing pictures and creating the set). We then got a show of hands for which students were interested in specific roles. Many students wanted to voice Bea, so we decided to split up her speaking roles among 2 or maybe 3 students.

Once that logistical work was out of the way, we asked the students some more questions about each character’s individual personalities so that we could have more to work with while we write the script. When talking specifically about Hero’s social status, we got into an interesting discussion about popularity—how many of our characters should be popular? Can they all popular? I was happy to hear that, while almost all students wanted her to be pretty and ultimately more popular than the rest, they also thought it was crucial to make her smart and kind. The students seemed to naturally complicate Hero’s character by adding these overlapping attributes.

Lastly, we asked the students how Bea and Ben should get into their petty argument in order to demonstrate the “merry war” between them. Many students were very passionate about having this argument take place in the cafeteria, eventually leading to a massive food fight. The other UR students and I supported this idea because it would be lots of fun to create and because it could allow for more speaking roles. Overall, this meeting definitely cemented many of the ideas previously brought up by the students and gave us plenty of new material to work with when finishing up our act 1 script this weekend. My main concern, at the moment, is ensuring that all students get the ability to voice a character if they want to.

Every week working with the kids is a new adventure, simply because this is a new experience for both groups. This week, however, the kids were right on top of everything, and we were able to run through our scene again to make sure the kids understood and get a rough script made for our scene. The idea to gamify the entire process worked really well! We explained to the kids how they would be playing a game similar to improv. From there, the entire process went smoothly, as we would set up the scene for the kids, and they would act out how they would behave. At this point, we could expect to clean up the script in the next week or so, and we can begin with the drawing or other forms of visual media we may be using.


Overall there is a tremendous success in how this project is turning out, and I am confident that the kids will do really well as we begin to enter the second half of the project’s timeline.

This week was definitely a week of technical difficulties as we met during the remnants of tropical storm Zeta, and connectivity at the school was not ideal. The kids didn’t end up logging on until 3, which is 15 minutes past our usual start time, however, when we got to meet with them they were really excited about using their action figures and deciding which character would be each action figure. They had a different aid in the classroom who was definitely a bit more helpful than the other aid that we normally have, and was able to control the kids a bit better so that they could start the drawings for our backgrounds. From what it looked like, they were able to start drawing the first scene, but we lost contact with them about 15 minutes into the google meet and were unable to reconnect. It was definitely disappointing to only be able to see them for such a short amount of time, but our group is still confident in the progress that we have made so far and think that we will be on track to have it completed in time. The next step is to have the kids complete the background drawings and take photos of the action figures in various positions so that we can include them in our iMovie, which we decided will probably be the best tool to make the final product.

This week was a lot better in terms of chaos and we were successful in creating a plan and getting the kids engaged. They were absolutely hilarious, maybe in some ways a little bit inappropriate for 5th graders, but we could not contain our laughter and smiles as they quoted tik toks and sang some pretty funny songs. We decided that we were going to have the kids draw the backgrounds for each scene and then use action figures to show the characters. The kids definitely had a lot of fun and were really excited about the possibilities of everything that they could draw; including a disco dance floor and beer pong which was quickly shut down. We met as a group without the kids on Wednesday to go over our game plan for the next class and decided that it would be best if we got the kids to draw while we were on google meets with them because it would be hard to get them to do so outside of class. We also decided that we might record their voices saying “and then he said” and small phrases like that so we can incorporate their voices without worrying about having to have them record the entire script.

I am really happy with our group’s progress this week! We have our scenes planned out with the adapted plot line and each character has been assigned an action figure. I feel like we were able to brainstorm more ideas with the students during this session, more so than previous sessions. Once they had a firmer grasp on the plot and characters, it seemed like they were more interested in coming up with plot points. They still needing some prompting, but I think that is just because they genuinely don’t know where they are supposed to be going with this. They also drew settings today, which allowed them to be a little more creative. Each student drew part of a setting for a scene, so that we can put the action figures in the setting and then ‘act’ out the play.

I am increasingly excited to see how the final result is. Once we got the students more excited about the project, they seemed to think of more ideas and have more fun. I’m hoping that they are excited to come up with dialogue for our next session, so we can begin recording!

Today was a little more challenging. We began with some technical difficulties over Google Meets and got started 15 minutes late. When we began the students were entheastic because they had gotten their action figures! They spent 10 minutes taking the action figures out of their packages and then we discussed which character would be which action figure. This was a little hectic, but the teacher with the group today was very helpful. She was familiar with Much Ado and was able to help the students decide on characters.

Last week we had asked the students to begin working on their drawings, but they were unable to do so before class. That was okay because they began working on their drawings during our call. We lost our connection with the class shortly after they began and were unable to re-connect. This meeting was very short because of technical difficulties but it is okay because we will be able to meet with them next week.

Our hope is to get lots of different background drawings and photos of the action figures in various poses in front of them. We do not have that much more work to do with the students besides helping them complete their artwork!

This week’s meeting with HEF was great and hopefully set us up to start recording the beginning of Act V next week! We started by getting more details about what the students wanted to happen in each of the scenes. In Scene 1 we decided to have the conflict between Leonato and Benedick with Claudio to be a challenge to a one-on-one basketball game between Benedick and Claudio. However, before they begin they will hear rumors of Hero’s innocence. We also decided to combine Scenes 2 and 3 into a combined promposal event with Benedick, Claudio, Beatrice, and Hero at a football game. Benedick will disguise himself as a marching band member and sneak into the crowd to surprise Beatrice with her promposal where she will excitedly accept. However, Claudio will ask Hero in front of everyone after he makes a touch down in the football gam, but Hero will not give Claudio a response. The last scene at the prom still has some details to figure out since the student assigned the last scene was not there today. In terms of the final product we decided to record it on an iPad that the teacher has in the classroom. The students will draw the backgrounds of the scenes on big sheets of white paper with the action figures (they decided on last meeting) acting out the scene in front of the background with voice overs. We ended the meeting with the students beginning to draw their backgrounds with one drawing the crowd at the football field, another drawing the stands on the football field, another drawing the end zone of the football field (for when Claudio makes the touch down), and the last student drawing a basketball court.

Welcome to Leadership on Stage and Screen Lecture Podcast, Episode Sixteen.

Shakespeare’s England, Islam, and Religious Persecution

Religious conflict formed the bedrock of international relations in Shakespeare’s England, with the primary concern of the government focused on the threat of Catholic invasion or assassination throughout the reigns of both Elizabeth and James, although more the former than the latter…


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