Act 4’s first meeting with the students at St. Joseph’s Villa started off without a hitch! Five students participated in today’s meeting: Jayvon, James, Aisha, Katera, and Dale. The kids were all cooperative and engaged in the group, and seemed mostly enthusiastic about the performance.

The tone of today’s meeting was very casual. We began with introductions and came to learn that all of our students are in high school (with representation from all grade levels within). Dale joined the group about 15 minutes in; he has autism but is higher-functioning and a very sweet young man. He and James are musically inclined and broke out into song during the introductions, which was fantastic, as the spontaneity is important in theater. We also briefly went over the play and compared it to She’s the Man.

After introductions, we played three games. First, we played Zip Zap Zop. After several rounds, the students got the hang of it and did not break the flow for a few minutes. However, the students had some trouble at the beginning learning to communicate non-verbally (other than saying their designated word). Eye contact was the hardest part for them to get accustomed to. Dale also struggled with the non-verbal cues, but was successful overall in the game. After about ten minutes, we moved on to play One Word Story. The students enjoyed this game and continued on for another ten minutes. The final game was Bus Stop, and the students were hysterical! James dominated the stage for the first half of the game and had a very positive attitude. Then Aisha came in as Cinderella and also rocked it!

The last piece of our meeting was a discussion about roles and about the play. All of the students expressed wanting at least a few lines, with Katera and Jayvon wanting the larger roles. We noticed that, in describing Malvolio as a “servant,” some of the students were turned off to the idea of playing him. We will revisit the way we introduce characters next time and see if we can change their minds.