Remember in elementary school when you would sleep with your PJs inside out, put a spoon in the freezer, and standby your house phone just waiting for school to call a delay? Well, waiting around on Friday I felt completely the opposite. Carolina, Jessie, and I were all on standby refreshing our emails and sending each other group messages regarding the play. The show must go on. We were so eager to receive an email, “Full send to St. Josephs.” Unfortunately, that was not the final verdict. My group was so upset we were not able to watch all the scholars and OSHER adults preform.

A production that built anticipation for an entire semester had high expectations in my mind. Not that the acting would be fantastic, but that I would be able to see each of my classmates come together and show off their hard work. In fact, it was nearly impossible to visualize the outcome, so my imagination of the outcome was pretty spectacular. As my group practiced, they became more comfortable with their lines and actually added inflection to their delivery. It would have been fun to see if they would have dramatized it anymore in the moment. My favorite line in my part was one of Banquo’s. He says, “Ay, my good lord.” The scholar acting out Banquo would add to it and say, “AYYY, mah guud Lord” and it was so cute. If after two days on the script our scholars were able to get more creative, I could only imagine what other group’s acting abilities developed into.

It would have been incredibly rewarding to see the final production. But, the fact that we were unable to execute does not take away from the experience as a whole. The last practice, we had wonderful run-throughs of our part. I was so proud and congratulated my specific group, and the other group that only had two scholars. Both those scholars were so happy with their delivery that they asked if they could give me a hug. Of course, I did the side hug we were taught in class, but it was still so cute that they wanted a hug.

I really wished we had brought them treats for the final practice, and was hoping to have brought them something after their show Friday. This routine practice was something I will miss, but it will hopefully encourage me to volunteer for an after school program next semester. I would love to try to do something in the spring with them, or maybe just drop by a practice if Stage and Screen is doing a play again with the same program.


This week was our final rehearsal!! It’s so crazy how quick this semester has gone by. Also, it is so amazing how close we have gotten with so many of our students. Monday’s were a day I looked so forward to because they always ended with Henderson, so it will be sad to have a bit of a different routine next semester.

This week, we were very productive with rehearsing. To start, we split up into our groups and went through our scenes a few times. My group successfully went through it 3 times. They were all critiquing each others performances to perfect the overall performance. However, two of my scholars had zero interest in taking part of the rehearsal. I told them they could give their lines to someone else, and that they can just sit, but cannot use their phones. They took that as an ultimatum and participated in rehearsals.

I wish we had time to use props with them, so that come Friday it would not be their first time in awe of them. However, it would have been incredibly unproductive to try to get them to use the props when we have not reviewed the script enough. So, not bringing them was definitely the call. Also, looking back, I do wish we had more time on the script, but do not think it would have been the best for these kids. They were sick and bored of reading it after they did it for two rehearsals. It was painful to try to get my scholars to reread it any more than they already had to. Unfortunately, that means they won’t emphasize certain parts of their speech or really “act,” but even if we had more time, given their personalities, I do not think many of my group would have gotten more creative regardless.

After some time, Jessie Carolina and I joined as a group. We went through our entire part and timed it to make sure we did not go over the 15 minute limit. It was really fun to watch the kids perform in front of each other. A few of them were verrrry nervous. We finished the first time through and we were just over 15 minutes. We evaluated what we could have done better and decided it was all about the transitions. So, we all went back to our groups and critiqued the way it went.

I gathered my group and they all go, “we were horrible!” I felt bad, because honestly they were. But that’s because they were starving. Three of them were complaining about how they just want food and want to stop because they did not feel well. I told them they were almost done and that they would be able to go home to eat. I then explained to them that they were the best group and they need to show it off to the other groups. I told them that the performance they just did made them look like they were the least prepared, yet half of them memorized their lines. The Macbeth in my part took over. She explained to them that she really wanted to act in this and that rolling around on stage and farting was embarrassing. I was so happy she was so passionate about the performance.

We tried again to run through the presentation as a group. They did SOOO much better. I actually ended up getting on stage with them this time so it prevented them from rolling around and goofing off. Jessie and Carolina’s groups were also great and some of the scholars were really into it! We finished in just about 15 minutes, so if we get a decent amount of kids that show up, we will be good to go!


This week, for the first time, we were finally able to run through the Macbeth script. To my surprise, the scholars were incredible. The idea we had weeks ago to split the script apart so we could easily divide it among the different scholars, having multiple Macbeths etc., worked out well! In fact, my group loved their part of our act and acted it out with much enthusiasm.

We divided the class into four groups. One group consisted of two scholars, while other groups consisted of around 8-10. I took my group to one side of the stage and explained the scene they were to act out. I only had two copies of the script, so I said I was going to choose two leaders to hold it. The other seven students split up and stood surrounding the leaders so they could find their parts. My scene has all 7 murderers (still a TBD number because we have broken up each line so we can max the number of roles and will most likely condense them to the number of scholars that show up on the day of the play, but to practice it gets them all involved). So while they were all reading through their lines I told them to circle or underline anything they did not know and I could explain it to them.

They followed my instructions so I was able to set up the group of only two scholars. I explained to them that they have the part where Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are talking to each other very dramatically and that they will get to use stage blood. They were very excited. These two scholars were very mature, asking wise questions about the logistics of the show and about the content of their script. I told them to try to practice it through four times once they read through it once, and that when they were done I would help answer anything about their scene that was confusing. Based on their questions I revised and cut some of their lines. Both scholars enthusiastically asked to bring home their scripts so they could practice, so depending on how well rehearsed they are next week we might not have to cut anything more.

When I returned back to my first group, they were very excited to show me what they had practiced. Before we started, I told them that any time someone speaks over the actor, we would start from the beginning. Every murderer was eager to speak their line, so they conformed to that rule after a few takes. We successfully ran through it multiple times, and then I asked them to explain in our english what was happening. They were very accurate and completely understood that Macbeth was asking/telling the murderers to kill Banquo. They even added in words to lines that specifically addressed “men” to say “men, AND WOMEN!!” They had a lot of fun acting it out.

Jessie and Carolina both received great reactions from their groups. Overall, it was a very productive and successful practice. In fact, I do not feel like we are behind at all given all of the issues we have had trying to meet with our site.

Crossing our fingers though, because our coordinator was unaware of the permission slips so she asked us to call the scholars parents seeking permission. For our next rehearsal, I would love to bring props and to run the rehearsal through completely connected. We need to think of a good way to reprimand scholars who choose to goof off though. That will involve removing them from the practice most likely. But overall, I am excited to see how it goes!

This week, we were ready to go with name-tags, role descriptions, scripts, etc. We had the ideal divisions of groups set. We arrived at Henderson to a game of trivia being hosted with what looked like multiple groups of Henderson after school classes. There were 15 scholars lined up on stage and each one would be called one at a time to answer true or false to a fact about the US. Everyone in the audience would applaud if the scholar answered correctly, and if they were incorrect scholars would shout, “its okay!!” It was really cute to watch them answer so many correctly and show great sportsmanship if they were incorrect.

Because it appeared to be more than just one class of scholars at Henderson’s after school program, the room was a lot louder than usual. It was fascinating to watch the teachers calm down the room by shouting certain commands that they would respond in sync to. One of these teachers graduated from Jepson. She spoke to us during orientation about how she loves being able to directly apply what she learned as a leadership major at Richmond to this after school program. She is a leader within the organization and a leader among the students. It was cool to see her actually implement a lot of what she told us to do at orientation. I have been using a lot of her tips and have seen great results. For example, she told us to say, “on three, I want you to quietly, take out your notebooks and write one thing you learned today. Okay, one, to three.” The italicized can be substituted for anything that you want them to do, but you must explain how (quietly, quickly, etc.) and what, with good instructions of the task.

After we watched 30 minutes worth of trivia, we were able to get a hold of our site contact person to ask when we would resume practice. She apologized and told us they were not having that today. She then told us the following week we would not have practice either. We began to worry about when we would be able to get enough practices in before the play, and she told us we would be able to come in on a different day. We plan on going in on a Thursday, probably the week following Thanksgiving.

This week, Jessie received a text from our contact person saying we were not having regular rehearsal hours and that there was not an activity for us to come to with the scholars, so we did not go to Henderson. A blessing for me, because it was B-Schools second wave of midterms and I had a lot to study for. However, we were so ready to show our scholars actual Shakespeare texts 🙁

We planned out that we were going to divide our script into three parts so that we can have three waves acting out each character. Since our act does not have that many characters, and we have 25 scholars, it made the most sense for us to do it this way. Again though, this is just a trial and error – what seems to make sense in our heads may not play out as planned. We also got ready to make nametags for the scholars and we would try to divide them up into roles with a lot of speaking and roles with little speaking, depending on what each would prefer.

The most frustrating part about practice being cancelled is that we have fresh ideas to improve from the previous session, which is now three weeks in the past. It is impossible to ask scholars to recall what went wrong or what they need to do better this week, because they simply do not remember that the last rehearsal we had was just me.

For our next session, I want to begin with ground rules, that the scholars and Jessie Carolina and myself agree with. I think this is a great way to hold them accountable for their actions. A punishment for disobeying a rule they generated could potentially result in them sitting the rehearsal out.

As there are limited weeks left before the show, I am excited to get the scholars hands on Macbeth. I think their enthusiasm will make for great actors and actresses.

T’was the night before Halloween…

Monday this week we received a text from our contact person at Henderson to tell us that they were having a Henderson wide Fall Fest so we would not be holding our regular rehearsal. We were given the option to come join and help facilitate activities if we wanted. Not surprisingly, we all wanted to go. We arrived and we went to the cafeteria where there were around eight stations. Each station had a fun activity for all the grade levels. There was an apple picking station, a symbols station where they drew symbols representing “friendship,” “trust,” etc. onto tissue paper, a “pin the light” on the pumpkin station, and coloring stations too. The scholars were so happy because there was pizza and fun music playing too!

It was a very fun break from our typical Monday sessions, and I know it meant a lot to our scholars that we came. I talked with them and asked what they were going to be for halloween. Lots of fun answers: basketball players, movie stars, etc. And they were curious to know when we were going to cast roles for Macbeth.

Next week, when we resume regular sessions and Jessie and Carolina are there, we will be able to start casting Macbeth roles. We have our plan ready for Monday and are going to use trial and error to best teach all 25 scholars how to perform a shakespeare play.

I am excited to see how they do!

Week four at Henderson was definitely the most challenging it will ever be. It was the first time I was alone. Jessie and Carolina were unable to make rehearsal, so it was up to me to structure and organize the hour and a half meeting. I did a lot of preparation so I could plan it. The three of us had busy weeks so I didn’t get a chance to discuss with them ideas for the session; however, I thought back to my childhood — games that I enjoyed the most, but had the most structure.

I wanted to take this week to ease them into the idea that this was not just fun and games, and that we were actually going to be serious and read from a script. I wanted to teach them how important silence was, how to act in front of each other, and how to read from a script with multiple characters.

Therefore, I started with the game Four Corners. This was good because it placed on student in the middle with their eyes closed, and the other students had to SILENTLY choose a corner. The middle student would listen for the loudest corner and would point to call them out. Whoever was in that corner was out and they had to sit down in the audience. This was great in theory, but after the third round everyone was so loud that I called the came. Students were running around so loud and screaming to distract/confuse the person in the middle.

I brought them back together with a quick round of Bullfrog. This was great because they circled up and they were easier to control in this formation. Then, I numbered them in fours and told the groups to meet in one of the four corners. I then went around to every group and gave them a topic to act out. Then ended up picking their own: Marching band, Teachers, Halloween, and Murderers (because of Macbeth). This was great for the groups to brainstorm what they wanted to do, but they had a terrible time acting this out. The first group went and they were too shy. They were afraid to act in front of their peers. It was also hard to get everyone to listen right away. The next group was so excited to go, but again, regaining the attention of the others was difficult. Two groups got through presenting and I told them if the other groups wanted to go the entire class had to sit quietly. That took forever!

I called that activity early because they were misbehaving. I had them all sit in the audience again in silence and I explained what we were going to do next. I had printed out a spongebob script that was easily split between 5 groups, with each group having 4-6 characters. Each group would get up and read 1-2 pages of the script to the class and jointly, the entire class would read the script. However, getting through the explanation and questions took a long time. As soon as I split them up they went crazy again, so for the last 15 minutes I sat them all back down in silence. I stood there and told them that this would no longer be fun if they weren’t listening, and that we were moving on to harder material next week. I then asked them all to say one thing that didn’t go well tonight and what they want to improve on for next week. I got great responses.

Overall, running the rehearsal alone was a rewarding challenge. I did collect ten phones, but I was also able to get them to reflect on their behavior. Next week, I will open with them recalling what they did poorly this week, and ways they want to make practice more efficient.

While we did not meet with Henderson this week due to fall break, I did think a lot about how to get the students more involved in the actual acting element. Off of my last post,  I still think it will be beneficial to take 20 minutes of the Macbeth film (2010) and show them part of their act they will be performing. Additionally, I think we will maximize efficiency if we split the group into three and each of us takes a group to talk and practice our scripts in a more personalized setting.

However, a new idea I thought of regarding the actual reading of the script was to start the students off with a very basic script. I hope to brainstorm with Carolina and Jessie about a very well known children’s play and we can print out five minutes worth of a script. Then, we can have our three groups read that out as a warm up exercise. As they get more confident reading and acting aloud, we will introduce them to shakespeare writing, because I expect that to be a challenge.

Lastly, I do not think playing a ton of “giggly” acting games will serve us well, because it will be hard to get them to focus on the activity of reading and understanding shakespeare.

I look forward to meeting with them week 4 as we begin reading the script of Macbeth.

Monday night was filled with games, videos, and knock knock jokes. Within that mix, me, Jessie, and Carolina were able to learn more about our individual teaching styles, and our style collectively.

We arrived to all 25 of our scholars in chairs waiting for us to begin. We started with name games. To my surprise, a lot of the students did not know each other’s names. After a few rounds of “Clap, Clap, Slap,” we asked the students if anyone could say everyones name. There were a few takers. Once they started to get sidetracked and talk, we had them take their seats off stage and we began reintroducing them to Macbeth. They remembered the story for the most part, but we showed them new, longer videos to refresh their memories. We also explained the part of Porter, where he tells three knock knock jokes. The students got a kick out of how Porter was drunk. We then told them we got to incorporate our own knock knock jokes. After asking for a few examples, one student told an inappropriate joke that resulted in him being sent home. I felt so bad because we encouraged participation and humor, we just were not expecting inappropriate humor.

While showing them this video, and having a discussion about it after, I realized it would be beneficial to know what exactly the breakdown is for the other groups sections. This way, when we explain our part in more detail, we can also explain what parts other groups will be doing. Additionally, this made me realize we need to add in more characters and make multiple Macbeths, Lady Macbeths etc. so we can split up lines. During this discussion we also were able to get a gauge for how many students wanted non speaking roles.

After we exhausted them with Macbeth, we regained in their attention with more games! We played Mafia. This was fun in theory – and always used to be my favorite game. However, the students were all peaking so it defeated the purpose. After two rounds we stopped and switched to Bullfrog.

In general, we had a much better session with these students in terms of maintaining their attention and controlling their behavior. Some improvements we made were rewarding good behavior by choosing them to be the next bullfrog. We stopped doing an activity or game as soon as it became too rambunctious. Additionally, we would get weird requests from students like can we sit in a chair in stead of the floor, and we would say if you are good this round and help us quiet the others, you can have a chair the next round.

However, going forward, I do think we can improve and have a few ideas. First, I think we need to break up the class into three groups, and Jessie, Carolina, and myself can talk with a smaller group when we go through lines. Also, I think the three of us need to see what the breakup of other groups parts are so we can explain that aspect to the students. A lot of them are intrigued with certain parts of the story that we do not have in our act, so it would be nice for them to understand that more clearly. The final idea I have is if we could show the students our act of the play in the Macbeth 2010 movie. I think that will help them see the full picture they are acting out. As we keep working with these students, we will continue to make adjustments with our ideas to better the result of our production.

After our first meeting with Henderson Higher Achievement, I look forward to following Monday night sessions with these students. Our first meeting definitely exceeded my expectations. I expected to be in a classroom with around ten students. I assumed it would be primarily girls and a few outgoing boys. I had hoped at least six of them would have had a slight interest in acting, while the other four would let the idea of acting grow as they watched their peers. However, I walked into the auditorium of Henderson to twenty five RAMBUNCTIOUS fifth graders. They were bouncing out of their seats. They would raise their hand and stand up and wiggle their fingers to try to reach their arm higher than the student next to them. I was so excited by their excitement. While I thought our biggest challenge would be participation, I now think it will be to calm them down.

The first thing we did with the scholars was introduce ourselves and show a video of Macbeth. They were really quick to catch a three minute animated summary of the story. We had students call out what they remembered from the play and we asked them to help us piece together the story. In a short three minute video, they concluded that Macbeth killed everyone to become the king, and that he was motivated by himself, his wife, and the three witches. I was shocked by how well they were able to come to this conclusion.

We played the name game with them next, which looking back was definitely not the best way to learn their names. To get through twenty five fifth graders, it is impossible to keep everyone’s attention. We were thankful to have the Henderson organizers with us to help regain their attention. I felt bad because they were yelled at and warned multiple times to be quiet or they would get sent home. We simply could have chosen a better way to do this that would minimize losing their attention. However, we told them that if they paid attention and got through the name game, we would show them the video of Macbeth again. We did, and it allowed them to further understand the story line.

The next thing we did with them was play Bullfrog. They loved this game! This helped show us who was going to be loud and take on a lead role, and who had no interest in speaking. The first time around, a handful of scholars just pretended to die, even though no bullfrog stuck their tongue out. We told them we were going to stop playing if they did that again and soon we had them playing four rounds.

We ended the session by wrapping up what we did with them, and told them to talk about the play at home if they were interested in sharing it. The next class session, we look forward to seeing who remembers the story and if anyone would like a bigger role. We will work at gaining their respect and controlling their behavior early on, and find more games to play that allow the scholars to come out of their shell.