This week we started working on the visuals for the play, which was harder to create interest for. A few of the students were very excited about ideas for how to depict things, but a majority of the students did not participate. I will admit that at this point I am a little stressed about how to get everything done by the end of the semester. Next week I am hoping that we can record at least some parts of Act 1, and get the images from them. My fear at this point is that the students who volunteered to draw images took on too much responsibility, and will be working too much during the week outside of our meetings.

We have our first scenes recorded! We wrote a script based on the students’ ideas so that we could record during the session on Thursday. Once the students had a script, characters, and backgrounds they drew on posters, I feel like they really understood what was going on in Act V. I could tell based on how they were reading the dialogue that they had an idea of how the characters would be talking.

It has been interesting using Act V for this project, because it is difficult to explain the somewhat illogical plot line to the kids. It took a while for them to understand why everything was happening, like Benedick challenging Claudio and Claudio apologizing to Hero. But once we worked with them to translate the story into terms that made more sense to them, they seemed much more excited and interested in the play.

I think that our group has done a good job planning deliverables for each meeting to keep us accountable. Because the meetings can sometimes get out of hand, between technology issues or keeping the students attentive, we always regroup with 15 minutes left to make sure we accomplish what we need to get done. With one scene filmed, I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product!

During this week’s meeting with our community partners, we finally got started on the technical side of our adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Instead of reading through our abridged script with the students who volunteered to be our voice actors, we decided to focus our attention on identifying specific “stock images” that we believed would be necessary in illustrating our plot. For example, we UR students thought that it would be crucial to include a drawing of all of the main characters for when they are individually introduced by Bea. We also agreed to include illustrations of the inside and outside of the school (Messina High), and an illustration of its rival private school (Aragon Prep), where John finds himself at the end of our act.

When determining which students would draw these important “stock images,” there seemed to be a genuine sense of collaboration and encouragement among the kids, which was great to see. The kids also went into great detail when asked to describe the physical appearances of the characters, proving helpful when it came time to transfer those ideas to the page. We then got into a lengthy discussion of whether or not our students should wear uniforms, which ended with us agreeing that the characters should ultimately get to choose how or if they follow the school’s enforcement of uniforms. In a sense, we let the characters decide for themselves based on how their personalities have been constructed by the students. On a different note, I found the hardest part of this meeting to be dividing the work of creating the images equally amongst all of our students; however, some students were very eager and willing to draw multiple characters and settings.

At this stage in the project, I do find myself wondering if our adaptation will be too “bound” to its source play (which I found to be a fault of the high school-set O), or if it will be able to stand on its own as a compelling and coherent project. I ultimately think that, since our students haven’t necessarily even read the comedy itself, our adaptation of Much Ado has no option but to take on a new, independent form. I look forward to next week, when we hopefully will switch to Zoom and begin recording our script.

This week meeting with the kids was another successful one! We started by asking them if they have any new ideas they wanted to share about the play and of course many of them were really engaged and participated. We also had a few new kids this week which was really exciting because we got to run through the whole project with them!

We also ran through the script a second time to go over some edits and give more kids the chance to experience reading some lines. We also decided that our Beatrice (Bea in the play) would be voiced by multiple kids so that more of them would have the opportunity to be involved. I was really impressed with how animated these kids were and how good at acting they were! Also, in each scene, we asked the kids how they wanted the scene to be portrayed. Many of them offered various artistic skills they could contribute to portray each scene. It was a really successful meeting and I am excited for our next one on Monday!

This week was in a word: interesting. Once the meeting started (a few minutes late) we were greeted by a teacher who we had not met before. She was very task-oriented and asked us what our goals were and what we wanted the student to have done this week. We have had trouble the past few weeks really getting the student’s attention, but this teacher really took over and got the kids right to work. She muted their mic so it was a little odd just sitting there, but hopefully maybe we can find a balance between her physically being there and us virtually being there to interact with the kids for our last meeting!

This week was an interesting one, simply because we did not do much of the activity with the students. Instead, they took it upon themselves to ask for help from their teacher to plan out what their next step should be. We were there to answer any questions they may have had, but for the most part, they were planning how pictures would work for them, and how they should plan to take some of the scene pictures. By the end of the meeting, ti seemed that they had planned what needed to be done, and were ready to move forward with taking the pictures needed for their scenes. Reflecting on this, I think that this shows a lot of maturity on behalf of the students, who began just five weeks ago not really know what needed to be done, to now moving on their own without assistance from us. Maybe that is a positive sign of our leadership taking place?

Last week was extremely unproductive. Between starting the call 10 min late and having technology issues for about 15 min, we weren’t able to get much done. The final scene we were missing (the outdoor prom) was drawn, but all of the student’s attention spans were very short and there was not much guidance on the community partner’s end to help them stay focused.


This week was better. We had already decided it would be easier to film and make progress with the project if we wrote a script for each scene. Holly, our point person, sent them the script the morning of our meeting and then we finally started filming! I was hoping we could focus a little more on the kids editing the script the way they want it to be, but I’m still happy we were able to be productive. I’m anxious to see how the recording came out, but overall love that we were able to have any opportunity at all to work on the JSP.