Week 10 was a big one – on Thursday we had our final meeting with our students at St.Joseph’s Villa and on Friday was the final performance, also at St.Joseph’s villa.
We went into our final rehearsal a bit apprehensive knowing that the show was coming up the next day and that we had never made it through a full script read through. Because of this we walking into rehearsal on Thursday ready to be efficient and get through what we knew we needed to. Prior to the meeting Lexi, Matt, and I had established how many lines each character had in our act and did our best to assign the students we had in the past to roles that we thought would be fitting for them. We based these assignments primarily off of factors of enthusiasm, projection, and reading speed. Luckily none of our students was particularly dead set on a character, so we knew we had the freedom to move some assignments around in order to make the final production go as smoothly as possible.
We had 7 students show up on Thursday and the first thing we asked all of them was whether or not they would be at the performance the next day and they all said YES! This was very exciting for us because up until that moment we really had no idea who we could expect to show up on Friday. We spent much of our time on Thursday going through Scene 4 as it was the one scene we had never gotten to during past rehearsals. Luckily, Matt brought the prop swords along to rehearsal which got the students especially excited about this scene and we had a great run-through. We felt great leaving St.Joseph’s on Thursday, but were worried about one little issue – we had never gotten through the entire act, let alone more than 2 scenes in less than an hour. Yikes. That being said, we trusted Dr.Bezio’s words from the day before that she “wasn’t worried” and hoped for the best.
Immediately upon our arrival on Friday (final production day), Lexi and I gathered the scripts that Dr.Bezio had printed for us as well as the extra copies we brought along and made a personal script for each student. All of the students aside from KT were only playing one part, so we highlighted that character’s lines throughout the script and gave each student the script that belonged with their assigned character. We were able to stay relatively consistent with the character assignments from rehearsals, but had to move a few students around with the hopes of keeping our act within the right amount of time. All of the students seemed content with their roles, especially Charles who got to play drunk Sir Toby Belch. Christina was slightly frustrated with us that we had switched her role, but she got over it quickly and took her new assignment with stride. Rufus also showed a bit of resistance around being Malvolio, especially when we were suiting him up in his cross-gartered yellow “stockings,” but he too was able to overcome his frustrations.
We were lucky enough to have a solid amount of time with our students before the production, so ACT IV, who shared the same students, teamed up with us and we worked together to organize the students, their costumes, and their scripts and explain to them what would be occurring over the next few hours. We decided to do a read through prior to the performance and unfortunately only got through our act because it took so long, but I think this read through definitely made our students feel a lot more comfortable with the material before going on stage.
And then all of the sudden… it was 6:00 – show time! We gathered the scripts and rounded the students up before heading to the audience to watch Acts I and II perform. Unfortunately due to the acoustics in the church and the shy, quiet nature of many of the students it was close to impossible to hear what was being said. Dr.Bezio suggested that going forward, all acts should be performed in front of the stage rather than on it, a fact which we prepared our students for.
40 minutes later and it was time for our act. Jayvon, who had never shown us much emotion up until that point, expressed that he was nervous, Christina couldn’t sit down out of excitement, Dale locked himself in the bathroom less than a minute before he was supposed to go on stage, and Rufus’s cross-garters wouldn’t stay up – but otherwise the performance went down without a hitch. It was so fun and rewarding getting to see our students on stage performing what they had been practicing for weeks. They were so much more excited and confident than they had been in rehearsals and many of them really came to life on stage. The majority of our students have a tough time reading and speaking, so to see them power through a whole performance was really incredible. It was also very special to see a lot of their families and friends in the audience, they were all clearly very proud of the students and impressed by what they were witnessing.
Overall I think it was a great success and I do believe that in one way or another we had an impact on the students that we worked with throughout the semester. It would have been nice if each and every one of them could have made it to the production either to perform or to watch, but I couldn’t be happier with how the final 7 students took control and put on a show.