Our group was very sad to get the email informing us that production has been cancelled. After putting in 9 weeks with these students its unfortunate that we would be able to see the final production. While we were sad to see the show cancelled, we did have some serious concerns about being able to field a full or even partial cast. Between behavioral problems and other complications, our cast was constantly changing and usually shrinking. Despite this, we had some students who were seriously getting into their roles and enjoying their characters. Some of our last practices were our best as we were finally able to get some stage directions down and do complete run throughs of scenes.
Overall this has been a great experience. While I would have loved to have a consistent group throughout our whole time there, I think we were able to do a good job with what we were given. Given our constantly changing group of students, we made one of our priorities to make sure that the students knew what was going on in the play rather than just have them read words they dont understand off the paper. I think in this regard we were very successful. We had students really grasp the concepts we were explaining and they were able to communicate the message in their own words. Outside of our students, I think this was also a learning experience for the four of us. This project required much more patience than I would have initially thought and was filled with setbacks. That being said, I think we did a great job overcoming all this and really connected with the students over the 9 weeks. This was a great project overall and it is too bad the final show never got put on.
With only one day until the performance, we needed a very productive rehearsal to get everything ready and into place. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and we were not able to start the practice until 12:30 since the chapel was locked. Once inside we got even more bad news. We found out the Christina, our Lady Macbeth and best actress, has been having behavioral problems and was pulled from the performance. Additionally, we found out that Deandre would most likely not be able to make it performance on Friday night. However despite the bad news we assigned everyone parts for the day and did a read through of the first scene trying to focus on the staging. Despite the short amount of time and the limited cast, this actually went very well. Deandre seemed to really get into his role and began acting rather than just reading the words off the page. This enthusiasm definitely translated into the other actors and they began to come out of their shells a little as well.
Its a shame that this was our last practice because this 20 minute rehearsal was some of the best work we’ve done to date. Going into the production my only concern will be getting enough people to fill the roles. We have soft commitments from two students who have smaller parts and nothing more than that. Even if we only get 2 students I think we will be able to put on a show that focuses on them and allows us to take more supporting roles. These students have been in and out but I think they would be able to adapt to whatever circumstance we have to work with on the day of the production.
This week was perhaps the most disheartening rehearsal we have had to date. We showed up to find that most of our main roles were absent and only Christina and one new actor were present. With such a small group of students we were fairly limited in practicing until Timone finally wrangled a few more students into the church. In the end, we were able to run through a full scene however we had to use interim actors for most of the parts which will not help us much for the final production next week. Additionally, Timone informed us that some of our better actors who have bigger parts will not be coming back which puts us further behind as we will have to do more casting and editing to our script. However, the rehearsal was not all bad. We found some students who had smaller parts show some interest in having more lines which will help filling the newly vacant roles. Additionally, some students like Christina even asked to bring a script home so she could practice before the final production next week. Lastly, another thing that has perhaps been slowing us down is our attempts to make sure that the students know what is going on in every scene. We take large portions of each rehearsal to explain what is happening so they aren’t just reading words mindlessly of a script. While this slows us down a little, I think it is well worth it for them to understand the play and help them grasp some of the larger ideas of the play.
In light of everything that has happened I still believe we will be able to put on a great show next week. I believe that DeAndre (Macbeth) is planning on showing up for both the rehearsal and the performance which in combination with Christina (lady Macbeth) will cover a large portion of the lines. From there we will just have to cross our fingers and see who is able to show up and work on the fly. Lots of our students have been reading different roles as a result of absences so I’m sure some last minute changes will be very manageable.
This week Timone was absent and several of our regular characters were out as well. There were however several new faces as there are pretty much every week. Since several of our already cast characters were gone, we were not able to get as much done as we hoped for this week. That being said, we were still able to give temporary roles and read through two of our scenes. This was the first time we did a reading on the actual stage which was nice because we were able to begin to stage the scenes and get a sense for were everyone was going to be. This also made us aware of some of the difficulties our characters had with understanding the stage directions however I think that with a little practice this will be relatively easy to overcome. Overall though it was great to see some of our actors really get into the play and try and understand their characters. Some of them were trying out accents and working hard to understand and improve on their stage directions.
As we go forward I am hoping we can get a solid cast that will come and participate every week which will help everyone will get a better sense of how the play is going to look when we actually act it out. Additionally, we will try to solidify our time period, theme, and costumes in the near future so we can modify our staging and such to meet those needs. I think overall we are making great progress and will be able to put on a great show come performance time.
Despite our relatively short sessions I feel like each week I come away feeling like we have accomplished a lot. This week that came in the form of our casting. We had probably 90% of our total cast (which is relatively high for us) and were able to solidify all the roles we needed to fill. While this was great, we accomplished much more this week. Once we finished casting we began talking about the more creative aspects of our production. We first broached the topic of setting and we were excited to see that everyone had something to say. They were making connections to movies and video games that they had seen and getting very excited about the idea of acting the play out in that time period. We also talked about that costumes everyone wanted to wear and everyone was equally if not more enthused to talk about their outfits. The best part of this was it got everyone out of a work oriented mode and allowed us to talk and joke with everyone. While we have been connecting with everyone a little more each week this was by far the most in all our time there. While we didn’t get around to reading the script this week (to the aggravation of some students) we will begin reading and acting next week and I’m looking forward to making more progress.
As expected we had a new mix of students again today. We lost two from the previous week and gained one more. Despite the changes in our cast we had a very productive week. For the first time, we read through the script assigning specific parts to each person. One of our new members has decided he would like to be Macbeth and was excited and engaged with the scene we read through constantly asking questions about aspect he didn’t understand. As we read through we realized that we had unfortunately cut to many lines from certain character and not enough from others. For example one student named Shakira wants to play the murderer but would like more that the 3 lines she has. In light of this we plan to out more of the murderers lines back in and maybe reducing some of the less important lines of the witches. As a whole though this week was very productive. I think having each person read one character helped everyone engage and start to really understand the script. We as mentors are doing a better job of communicating with the students and I think we are making a lot of progress.
Every week we go to the Villa we a surprised with a mix of new students and some but not all of the old students. This week we had four new students that were required to be there by Timone. While fairly uninterested at first, over the course of the session they seemed more into it. For example, a new student named Jeremiah, first said he would be interested in a part that had no lines at all. However after reading the script with the rest of his peers and discovering he was one of the best readers, he felt much more comfortable with the idea of having lines. Derek was the same go-with-the-flow guy he always is and seemed to enojy reading his lines and becoming more familiar with his character of Banquo. Christina has settled into her role as lady Macbeth as well and seems to be enjoying the readings. Since we have had a new group every week, we are having trouble assigning smaller parts to students because we are unsure if they’ll be coming back next week (this week we lost two). While this week we just went though and read scenes together, next week we hope to get more specific and have people begin to play parts although this may not happen if our group is changed more.
This week was in my opinion the most productive session we’ve had yet. We added a new member to our group and found out that one of our old ones will no longer be with us. With the constant change of actors and no knowing who will show up every week, we have had a tough time assigning roles. In light of this we tried to get the ball rolling this week by going around and each reading one line at a time. This got everyone a little more comfortable with the script and gave everyone an idea of what characters they wanted to play. Kirnst who has a very good idea of the large themes of power and corruption in the play decided that he would like to be a warlock (instead of a which) and seems very happy with this choice. Although he often gets off topic he is very aware of his role and seems happy to be apart of the production. Christine who was a part of this program last year seems to enjoy the play a lot and was able to use the table reading to decide that she wants to be Lady Macbeth. She said she liked that she was a trouble maker and seemed like one of the smartest people in the play. Derek is probably the best reader of the script and has decided that he would like to be Banquo although due to our small group, he will likely have to play multiple roles. The new girl (whose name I am forgetting) decided she wanted to play Macbeth which is great considering Justin is no longer going to be participating. This was somewhat surprising considering I thought she struggled the most with the reading of the script. All in all though this was a very productive week and I look forward to going back and making more progress next week.