The day of the final performance has finally came and went. It definitely did not go how I expected. When we arrived, we found that the bus was only picking up our kids from one school even though I’m pretty sure our group comes from three or more. Ultimately, Andy, Seline, and Betty showed up. I was really surprised that Betty came. She was in my group the day before and she really emphasized how much she did not want to be in the show. She told me that she would run, hide and go home on her own bus to avoid being in the performance. All the same, I am glad she came as her presence was very much needed considering only two other kids came. Overall I am proud of the performance. Andy, Seline and Maria did well in their roles, especially considering they each took on at least three parts throughout the act. I ended up reading for Sir Andrew and Curio throughout the act. It was fun acting up on stage, I’ve missed it if I’m being honest. However, I’m still having mini flashbacks of me being the only one dancing to” juju on the beat” especially when I had just learned it that day by watching youtube videos. I was so embarrassed. Every single rehearsal all of the kids were obsessed with that song and wouldn’t stop dancing it. But when the time came for them to dance in the performance, I was left dancing alone. I really wished they had danced with me, but I have to admit that it was pretty funny that I was the only one dancing, it took me a long time to realize I was the only one. I wish more of our kids had come, I’m sad that I won’t see the rest of them again at least for a while. However, I am happy with the final product. Andy, Seline and Betty all really stepped up in terms of our performance and I am very proud of them. They read their lines, even their new ones, quite well. They had a lot thrown at them when they realized that they were the only ones of their group who were performing and in my opinion they did a great job of tackling that obstacle.
Author: Caroline McNamara
The final rehearsal went better than I expected, especially considering we only had 20 minutes to rehearse. At Higher Achievement all of the the grades meet together for an activity before the breakout sessions. This week each grade designed a t-shirt to be submitted for a competition between the different grades. Our grade (fifth grade) ended up tying with seventh grade. I hope they won, apparently they were going to find out the results on the following Monday. In our twenty minute rehearsal we were able to breakout into the three separate groups and work on our group’s scenes. My group consisted of Jennifer (Sebastian), Angela (Antonio and Fabian), Betty (Sir Andrew and Maria), and Micah (Sir Toby). Izeah was not at Higher Achievement that day so I read the part of Malvolio. It went well. my group was in scenes one and five, we were able to run through both with no problem; I really think they’re finally getting into the play. It’s unfortunate that everything did not come together until the last rehearsal, but at least it came together in time for the show. At the end of the rehearsal “Miss Keisha” called all of their parents to get verbal confirmation in regards to the show. I am worried that no one would come. When we first arrived Alan said he had only received one permission slip back so far. He then asked the kids if there were anymore and he received another. He then turned to us and said not to worry that a lot were glomming. considering he only now had all of two permission slips, I am skeptical. We typically have between 12 and 15 kids each session, but I’m not sure if any of them will come to the final show. However, even though they had trouble staying on task and it didn’t come together until the very end, I am going to miss these kids. sometimes they can really be a pain in the butt, but sometimes they say the sweetest things. I wish I could do more for them. I might continue to volunteer at Higher Achievement next semester if I have the time, I really want to continue to help these kids.
Weeks 9 and 10 we had off for Thanksgiving. Week 9 they hosted a Thanksgiving at Boushall and week 10 was Thursday November 24th as in Thanksgiving day itself. I am worried about our production as we have not been able to get the kids to run through the act once. Hopefully we will week 11, but as of right now I am not sure how our performance will go. We have been able to determine which kids are good readers, which kids like theater/acing, which kids dislike theater/acting, and which kids have difficulty reading Shakespeare. If we had the time, I would like to help those kids who have difficulty reading. However, given the time constraint it would be difficult to do at this point. There are not enough rehearsals and so the kids who have difficulty reading will just have to have smaller roles. Also, overall the kids have issues with paying attention/staying on task. While we can generally get them all to participate in the theater games, it is difficult to get them to focus on the play. Perhaps for the next class I will bring candy to bribe them to focus on the task at hand. If they focus and we get through the act then they get candy. If not then no candy. It’s unfortunate that I would have to resort to that, but as they say, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
This week we were able to get the kids to act through several scenes. I was unable to be there due to a mock trial conflict unfortunately. However, Colby and Aleeza said we made good progress to a certain extent. The kids who weren’t acting out the scenes at the time were unruly and unable to focus on the task at hand. It’s really hard for us to maintain control while rehearsing. Granted, all the kids are pretty young so no one said it would be easy. I think it’s more so that there are so many of them. Typically there are about 15 kids at each session and usually there are only 2 or 3 of us at each meeting, so that’s 5-8 kids per jepson student. We’ve been trying to channel their energy through theater games. Sometimes it gets them to calm down, but sometimes it just engines them. We haven’t truly run through the full act with all of them yet. Yes we have read them and gone through each scene, but never in it’s entirety.Hopefully we will in the next session.
This week we were in the choir room. They were a bit distracted by some costumes hanging on the wall and the piano in the corner. We played museum again and zip zap zop. I said if they were good I would play a song or two on the piano for them. They requested the “Peanuts song.” Which I happily obliged. We got them to go through the cast list and work on their characters. We got them to read through their scenes fully. However, they had a lot of energy this week and it was all I could do to keep them from bouncing off the walls. I think they have been coming down from the hype of Halloween. At least, I hope that was it. We really need to figure out how to contain their energy. Also, Alan pulled Colby and I to the side afterward and told us that they completed the reading testing of our 5th graders to figure out what grade level they are at. The person who walked out last week because the reading was difficult was labeled at 1st grade reading level. Two others were at a 2nd grade level and one or two were at 3rd grade reading level. This will be difficult for us especially in terms of teaching them and coaching them on Shakespeare. Hopefully we can work it one on one with them, but I am concerned that there are too many of them and not enough of us. Not to mention, I’m not sure how to translate Shakespeare to a first grade reading level. We have already determined that we need to shorten our script, but I’m not sure how to edit Shakespeare’s language so that is more easily understandable.
This week was ok, it went better than expected. They really enjoyed the museum game I suggested. “Museum” is a theatre game in which everyone strikes a pose while one person is the guard. The guard walks around the area and the “statues” (people” have to switch poses behind their back without getting caught. If the person gets caught then they’re out. They really enjoy this game because it lets them move around. This week we were in a room called the “we the people” room. It is decorated with murals of historic moments. This room has a better layout than the band room. Also, there were no instruments which were a plus. In addition, we finally got them to sit down and read the scripts. We split them up into two groups. I got my group to go through lines and work on accents. Some children in Aleeza’s group had issues with reading and would give up and walk out. Hopefully though, we can work one on one with them so that their lines will be easier.
Unfortunately I did not get to go to rehearsal this week because I went to Charleston, SC for my cousin’s wedding. I spoke with Aleeza and Colby and they said rehearsal was hectic/a mess but they were able to talk with the kids and ask what characters the wanted. There were 14 kids last time. Initially they only had 7 but 7 more were added during the hour which disrupted the session. They were unable to focus unfortunately though. We have decided to cut down the script because, given their lack of focus, we could not imagine them reading/reciting a 20 page script. Also, the boys have decided that they would like swords. Between this week and next week we hope to have a proper set and cast list. We have decided to spilt the large group into 3 smaller groups by characters and scenes which Colby, Aleeza, and I will each lead. Also, Aleeza told me that we received a calendar for the remaining rehearsals and we only have 2 rehearsals left before the final production.
This week went way better. We started off the session with two rounds of zip zap zop. Then we were able to get them to actually sit down and actually look at the scripts. It was amazing! We talked about the different characters and the setting. The kids decided they wanted it to be set in modern day England. However, they wanted to do various accents so it will be a UN conference style where everyone will be from around the world. In terms of characters, all of the kids initially wanted to be the clown/the fool. In the end two of them said they wanted to be Viola and Duke Orsino, so there is hope and we will not have an all clown cast potentially. We didn’t get to look over the script much, I worry that we spend too much time teaching/learning new games to play, however they do enjoy them. Unfortunately next week I will not be at practice because I have to go to Charleston for my cousin’s wedding. However I do know that we plan to go over character descriptions and help them choose parts.
This week we did not meet with our group as we had fall break. A part of me wishes we had met because I am unsure how this is going to go going forward. They enjoy the improv games, which is great, however once we get them going on those it is difficult to reign them in. I wonder if we should use the improv games as a reward. I don’t think candy is the answer considering they usually are already hyped up for some reason, I wish I had their energy. I think we will try to have them read lines while running, or have them run around for 10 or so minutes so that they can get it out of their systems. Also, this week we saw 1776 as a class. I know what you’re thinking, where is she going with this, but believe me, I have a point. In regards to 1776 I think it was interesting how much the geography impacted he performance. I wonder how the geography or social/cultural climate will affect ours. Although we already have a prop list, I hope that next class we can choose a setting (time and place) and consequently be able to get a costume list started.
This week we finally met with the group. Of course naturally, things didn’t go as planned. We wanted to talk about the play, Shakespeare, and learn everyone’s names. This did not happen. We did get everyone to sit down and introduce themselves and say an animal that started with their first initial. Most of the kids, the boys particularly lied about their names and spent the duration laughing and crawling around on the floor. The girls were more honest, my favorite part was when a girl, Blanca, introduced herself and she said her animal was a banana. I couldn’t help but laugh. All of the girl are so sweet. I spent most of the time wrangling the boys though. They really liked leaving to go to the bathroom and hiding. I was very much reminded of why I do not and will never have 12 kids. Although I love kids, it was extremely overwhelming. Aleeza and I went and she tried to keep the session organized while I tried to contain the children so that they would pay attention to what she was saying. We did get to talk a little about Shakespeare and Twelfth Night, but they really liked playing hitch-hiker more, which I was thrilled about. It had always been my favorite theater game growing up, so I’m really glad that they took a liking to it. I’m not sure how to approach this going forward. Last working class we figured out what props we would need already. But I am not sure how we will cast the parts and get the children to actually read the script. Professor Bezio suggested that since they enjoy running around, perhaps we should have them read the script while running. I’m not sure if that will work, but I’m certainly open to giving that a try. If anything it will at least tire them out and get them to mellow out a bit.