This past week was particularly difficult in my opinion when it came to working with the students. Not only were there different students present (because I think not all of them come every week and we always have at least one new face), but there was also no teacher in the room for the entirety of the session so it was challenging to get–and maintain–their attention. That being said, when we did get their attention, we realized that they didn’t seem too excited about drawing the pictures. We are still considering other options (like their robots or the legos), but we had another idea we are going to see if we can try.

So the plan is as follows: If we get permission, we want their teachers to take pictures of them (maybe 10 or so) “posing” in different scenes and then we covered their faces afterward. For example, if we have a photo of the “Homecoming Scene” and it’s just them posing as if they are dancing or something. Then, when we go to edit the video, we put emojis over their faces! This way, they could be actively involved in acting out the scenes (which we think they really liked when we played the improv game last week), but we wouldn’t be able to identify who they were. We will keep everyone posted when we find out if something like this is possible.

It kind of feels like things are coming together! Our group is now working on a basic script that we will then show to the students to get their input. They’ve drawn sets and picked out action figures for characters. I feel like they have a better grasp of the storyline than they did in weeks past.

My favorite part has definitely been the students’ personal touches they add, such as Benedick challenging Claudio to a one-on-one basketball game rather than a duel. It show how they are finding ways to adapt the story as well, not just us.

I also feel like our group has adjusted well to some of the difficulties we have faced. I think we’ve done a great job building a rapport with the students, which keeps them engaged. I also think that our flexibility during our weekly meetings has allowed us to maximize productivity. We make sure that the students are interested in what we are doing, and change our plans accordingly to keep their interest up. We’ve also dealt with some technological difficulties, as well as some issues with keeping the students attentive. Mostly, the remedy for that has been patience; the teacher steps in and gets us back on track.

My group’s fourth meeting with our community partners marked a shift in how we typically structure our meeting time. Instead of starting with a review of which kids previously expressed interest in speaking or “tech” roles, we started by thinking conceptually about how we actually intend to present our adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in its final form. This involved the unveiling the draft of our act 1 script to the students. We assigned speaking parts based on who had expressed interest in voice acting in the past and then spent the rest of the meeting reading through the script (which the kids, fortunately, seemed to love). We made the difficult decision of splitting Bea’s lines into 3 different speaking parts, primarily because Bea has the most lines and because we wanted to give as many students as possible the chance to participate.

After reading through our adapted act 1 scene 1, I was happily shocked by how clearly and deliberately the kids delivered their lines. They seemed to make the characters their own just by how they chose to speak. In this moment, I felt the project finally coming into fruition. At the end of each scene, we paused to discuss how we wanted to portray it from a technical standpoint. We did this in order to include the kids who did not necessarily want a speaking role but who instead preferred the technical aspects of theatre. For our intro scene, we decided to include quick “freeze frames” after Bea introduces each main character. We also decided on the location of our third scene when Claudia professes her love for Hero to her football friends (we decided the stadium bleachers would be the most fun to draw). Having the script in front of me definitely helped me to better understand the work that still needs to be finished, and I look forward to our next meeting. Hopefully we will begin to record some of the audio for the speaking roles and begin to draw some of the characters, though I’m a bit worried about how that will go from a logistical perspective.

This week was mainly dedicated to reviewing the amazing progress we had last week. Most of the meeting this week was dedicated to deciding what the next move should be, and trying to figure out which students would draw which scenes. There was definitely difficulty in concentrating this time around, as it seemed that there may not have been a teacher present, and the kids were a bit more riled up. However, the kids still had a positive outlook on the project and seemed excited to continue. As a group, we also realized that drawing may not work with the deadline crunch we are facing, so we will reach out to see if there is a chance to use pictures with faces being left out or potentially digitally covered, maybe with an emoji or something else to make sure that the privacy of the children is still being protected, but that it is easier for everyone to continue on the project.

This week’s meeting was one of the most exciting so far, as we read our first draft of the script to the kids and they loved it! Each member of our group wrote a scene from Act 1 and we randomly assigned roles to the kids and had them read it aloud. I was really surprised to see how excited the kids were and also how animated they were when reading the script! They got really into the roles and lines and had a lot of fun. It was really cool to see the adaptation of the play really come to life! The only issue we face now is actually assigning the roles; the kids are all really enthusiastic about being involved so it will be hard to decide who gets to play which character. We thought of potentially giving the characters multiple actors so that more of the kids could be involved, but that is still up for discussion.

Our script definitely still needs a few tweaks and changes to make sure it lines up with the rest of the acts, but overall we are doing well and on track!