This past Monday (September 19th), the Act 4 group had its first rehearsal at St. Joseph’s Villa. Before we arrived, I will admit that I was a little unsure about what it would be like. The car ride up was very quiet — I think we were all pondering what might happen. Maybe the rain had something to do with it too.

We arrived, and went into our rehearsal space (the Chapel, which is great because there is a lot of room.) There, we met four African-American high-schoolers: James, Javon, Aisha, and Katera (I’m pretty sure this is how they spell their names but I’m not sure — we should figure that out next week!) These students all had a lot of energy right from the start, and when we told them about the project and the play, they seemed interested! However, our explanation of the play was a little shaky and went on a little too long, so I think we lost them. But for next rehearsal, we found an excellent trailer of “She’s the Man” that explains the plot perfectly. So we’ll show that.

One more student joined us, after about 10 minutes. His name is Dale. He has autism, but is high-functioning. I am very interested in working with Dale. My younger sister Rachel (18) has autism, and she is not high-functioning and has a lot of trouble with learning and social cues. I’ve also found myself working with a number of other autistic students, whether they are at my sister’s special-needs school, or they are in my town’s school system (where I now work as a substitute paraprofessional when I go home on breaks). So I’m not at all fazed by Dale’s autism: instead, I’m looking forward to showcasing him — he really wants to be Sebastian 🙂

We played games at this rehearsal (Zip Zap Zop, One-Word Story, and Bus Stop). Though it took a couple of minutes for them to understand the games fully, I was so pleased by the energy they immediately brought. They were having fun, laughing, and getting really into it! That sort of energy and willingness to perform are going to translate really well onto the stage. And during Bus Stop especially, they proved that they all can play quirky characters and maintain a good stage presence. I think it helped that we were playing the games with them as well. It created a very safe space.

Finally, at the end of the rehearsal we discussed the parts and started getting an idea of who might want to play which character. One interesting thing that happened was when we were explaining Malvolio. We had almost convinced Aisha about doing it, and then I made the mistake of using the word “servant” to describe him. She immediately backed off, clearly not wanting to play him anymore. My thought was “Good for her, but darn!” We’ll have to explain it better next week.

I’m really excited for this project, and look forward to next rehearsal!