We had our final rehearsal last Thursday – the day before the performance, and we knew we had a lot to cover in a short amount of time. We had not yet rehearsed all of our final scene, and we still did not know all our roles. Fortunately, we had 7 people, who ended up being the same 7 we had the following day for the performance. Lexi, Eliza, and I had figured out during our in-class workday how many lines each character had, and we had a rough idea of who we wanted to play each character in order to minimize the overall time of the act. This meant that Charles would be playing Toby, and he was ecstatic when we told him that he would get to pretend to be drunk for his new role. It also meant that Dale would be playing the officer, with by far the fewest lines in the act. We compared our script length to the other groups, and saw that after cutting it down 4 or 5 times over the course of the semester, we were actually around the class average.

On Friday, I arrived at St. Joe’s with TJ, AJ, and Dylan after my Ethics class, and saw that Eliza and Lexi had highlighted the scripts for each character, which would help people keep track of when they had lines. We also went through the entirety of our act beforehand with the Act IV group there, but unfortunately we still took too long to go through the entire act (sorry guys!) and the other group did not get to rehearse. I think that we needed that though, because it was the very first time we went through the whole thing from start to finish, and I know that it helped with confidence for our actors.

When it came time to perform, I was a bit scared that Rufus would not want to be Malvolio anymore because he tends to get upset about things easily, but he already had the socks and cross-gartering on way ahead of time, which looked good with his signature sunglasses and jacket with the hood up. Everyone was ready and exciting to for the show, and they all did great. Christina was a little bit nervous, and even though she stumbled on a few lines, her passion for acting really shined. Keteira was a great Olivia, and Talya did a great job with Viola. Jayvon, who was completely indifferent to Shakespeare when we first met him 10 weeks ago, was asking me during the act if he could say, “Why art thou fighting?” instead of another line because he thought the language sounded better, and he did great. Charles was without a doubt the star of the show, and probably the best Sir Toby Belch any rendition of Twelfth Night has ever had, wine bottle and all. The only hitch was Dale, who mysteriously disappeared into the bathroom 30 seconds before he had to step on stage. Recognizing this, I grabbed his captain hat and script, and nailed the performance on his behalf. He then stepped up and did a good job for his role in Act IV.

I was so proud of all of our actors, but I felt even better seeing how happy the performance made their family, friends, and teachers. I am going to miss our group at St. Joseph’s Villa, but I am happy that we were able to do something that hopefully had an impact on their lives.

As soon as we arrived today, I was happy to see some faces for the first time in a while, including Destiny, Jayvon, and Keteira, and a couple new ones as well. One of these is James, who has met with the Monday group and played the part of Malvolio, which he may continue with our group. He seemed to be so enthusiastic about the show and eager to contribute, even offering to memorize his lines and ensuring that his friends were speaking loud enough on the stage so that an audience would be able to hear them.

We also had Charles, Talya, Rufus, and Christina, which gave us 8 total people – the most we have had for a rehearsal so far. After our last group meeting, we cut down some parts of the script even further, and changed some words to make it more readable, which helped a bit. We struggled once again with Christina, who really wants to play the role of Olivia, but would have to read a lot of difficult lines that she may not be able to work through, and this was frustrating Destiny, who was playing Viola in Scene 1 where it is just Olivia and Viola speaking. After we got through the scene, Christina walked up to me and told me that sometimes when she doesn’t know a line, she freezes up, so I reminded her that if she just does her best with the reading, and focuses on the acting, nobody will even notices if she messes up a word or two.

Keteira, who played a couple of different roles today, is one of our strongest readers, and she speaks loudly enough that we know we won’t have any issues with our audience hearing her. But since we have a couple of small scenes with only 2 actors on the stage at a time, we had trouble keeping our bigger group engaged and listening to the rest of the act, especially if people were struggling with lines. Thankfully, the last scene involves all of our actors, and people paid more attention.

After the rehearsal, we played a game where one person had to act out specific emotions using only facial expressions and everyone else had to try to guess what they were, which ended up being a lot of fun because some people, like Charles, got creative with emotions such as “flirtatious” or “really?”

I would definitely consider today a success, but we know that we have a few things to do in order to make sure we have a seamless performance. With one rehearsal left, the day before the actual show, we have to make sure that people know which (or have an idea) role they will be playing, which scenes they are involved in, and which costumes/props they will need. I think it might be a good idea to print different scripts with different roles highlighted in each, that we people don’t accidentally miss a line or forget to walk on/off stage when they need to. I am glad that our actors seem to be looking forward to the performance, and I know that when we meet next, they will be really motivated to learn because it will be their last chance to perfect their roles and lines.

Last week when we met with the students from St. Joseph’s Villa, we were surprised to see that we had a couple more new students, Christina and Dale, but were missing our core group of Aicha, Keteira, Jayvon, and Destiny that we had since week 1 or 2. The only constant actor who we have had for every week is Charles, who is extremely well-behaved when we meet, and is usually quick to make a joke, but he was in a bit of a sad mood due to the recent passing of his grandmother.

We worked on reading lines, and rehearsed all of our scenes. One issue that we noticed is that both Christina and Dale could not read at the same level as the rest of the students, so Christina became frustrated both in her own abilities, and in the abilities of Dale. We worked past this by talking to Christina, telling her to focus less on the content of the lines, and more on the acting and the delivery of the lines, which she enjoyed, and acting out certain parts of the scene and moving around gave her more confidence in her own ability. Rufus also began to get frustrated, and even though he is a great reader, he may lose his focus if things are not going smoothly around him.

In all, this week honestly felt like it may have been a step back for us, mostly because we haven’t a consistent group, which makes it challenging to make sure that everyone is on the same page with roles, stage directions, and important plot points. I spoke to Timone a bit toward the end of the session, and asked him if he thought that the other students we were missing would be able to come for the remaining 2 sessions and the show, and he basically told me that it is hard for him to tell since students often won’t come in on certain days and he can’t do too much about it.

It is seeming more and more like Act III will be patched together at the last second, but Lexi, Eliza, and I are going to continue to make preparations so that we are ready for whatever situation we are faced with.


We were once again unable to meet with our students at St. Joseph’s Villa this week because of a, “Homecoming flag football game” that most of the students would be attending. I have confirmed our meeting for next week as set in stone, so it will be our 3rd to last meeting before the production, unless something else arises and we are unable to meet. With that in mind, Eliza, Lexi, and I are going into the next session with the mindset that we have to prepare them for the show quickly, regardless of whether they have roles set in stone or not. This means working on staging, transitions between scenes, and things that many of the students have not seen before, so we should have an interesting class ahead of us.

This week when we met with our students at St. Joseph’s, we were surprised to see that we had 4 new students and were missing 2 of our returners from previous weeks, Jayvon and Destiny. We came into this week completely prepared with roles for all of the students, so this threw us off guard and we had to improvise. After playing zip-zap-zop and one word story, I went over the plot again to refresh the returners and to introduce it to the new students. Lexi and I decided we should split up our rather large group in half and temporarily assign them roles in some of our scenes so that they could get used to what it is like to read Shakespeare, familiarize themselves with our act further, and for us so that we could gauge their individual reading abilities. I was pleasantly surprised at how well each of the students in my group read their lines, not being afraid to sound out the tricky words and ask for help if they needed it. After we read a scene, I went over it with the students, explaining what certain parts meant so that they actually understood what was happening. We concluded by reuniting the two groups and playing one-word story again, since the new students seemed to have a lot of fun with it. It should be interesting to see which students we get for next week, and decide if we even want to assign roles that are set in stone since it seems like we will have some attendance fluctuation in the 4 weeks we have remaining to meet.

We were unable to meet with the students at St. Joseph’s Villa this past Thursday because of an off-campus field trip that would not bring them back in time for our 1:00 time slot. We were excited to delve into working with them on the script, especially since we figured out roles for most of the students, but that will have to wait until we meet this week. At this point I almost expect to receive a text from Timone, the coordinator from the Villa,  every week saying that something has come up so the class in cancelled, but I have faith in the abilities of our students to learn their parts under the time crunch.

This week marked our second consecutive successful week at St. Joseph’s Villa, and we were excited to have our students meet Eliza for the first time and get back to work. We had one new member in our group, Katera (or KT), who had also met with the other group at St. Joe’s, and she seemed to already be friends with Destiny, Jayvon, and Aisha. To my relief, we also had every member back from the previous week, including Charles, the most eager of our actors. We decided to go into more detail about the plot of the play and the different characters. Trying to explain the love triangle proved to be challenging, because although we felt like we were explaining it well, it was difficult for the students to understand since they were not too familiar with the identity of each of the characters. Next week it may be a good idea to find some sort of visual so that the kids can attach an identity to each character that extends beyond a name.

Familiarizing the students with the characters got them excited to see which role they would want to take on in the production. Since some of them had already established roles with Act IV from the Villa, they quickly wanted to assume those roles with us, but we stressed that if they played different people for different acts, it would probably be a lot of fun. For example, Aisha said she is playing Feste in Act IV, but when we told her that Feste does not have a big part in our act, she decided that playing Malvolio would be a good idea since he takes on a humorous role in Act III. One of the issues that we faced with assigning roles was trying to figure out how people could take on more than one role, because there are many times when two characters are engaged in the same scene, so this is something that we are going to have to go through the script and figure out as a group before we can finalize anything.

As a reward for working so hard, we played some more games, which everyone was really excited about, including the 3, 6, 9 game, one word story, and at Destiny’s request – heads down, thumbs up. Next week we will bring printed out copies of our scripts and hopefully finish assigning roles so that we can start rehearsing some of the lines with the group.

Finally, after our third scheduled week of meeting at St. Joseph’s Villa, we got to meet with our kids. We had 4 students, two of them are also in Act IV with the other group, Javon and Aisha. We also had two new students, Charles and Destiny. Eliza was unable to make it on Thursday due to fall break travel plans, so Lexi and I arrived looking for Timone, but were unable to find him. When we eventually contacted him, and he told us that he was trying to finish taking care of some incident from earlier in the day (not an unusual occurrence at the Villa). At first I thought this was bound to be another disastrous trip, resulting in having to come back next week, still standing at square 1. Although we did not get started until about a half hour into our scheduled time slot, and we didn’t get to use the chapel space that I thought we would, the small room we did get worked out fine for our 4 players, and the day was successful.

We started off by introducing ourselves and describing the goal of our class to put on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Just to familiarize them with the plot without overwhelming them, we showed them the trailer to She’s the Man, and Destiny said she had seen it before. To get everyone acquainted, since Charles and the other three students had never met, and to help Lexi and me with names, we played the classic orientation name game where you have to say your name preceded by an adjective that starts with the same letter (e.g. Magical Matt). As you go around the room, you have to also say everyone else’s name before saying your own, to test your memory. This worked well for all of us except Javon, who seemed disinterested and did not want to give us an adjective for his name. We moved on to play a couple more games, including zip zap zop, and a number game where you had to go around in a circle counting upwards, but could only clap and remain silent when the numbers 3, 6, and 9 came up. By the end, everyone was having a good time, including Javon, who had broken out of his shell in the 20 minutes we were able to play some games.

Lexi and I had originally planned on going over the plot of Twelfth Night a little bit with them, and starting to describe some of the characters so that they could have some time to think about the roles, but the late start this week limited our options. All in all it was a good day, and I am excited to see Charles, Aisha, Destiny, and Javon act when the time comes.

We were unable to meet with any of the kids from St. Joseph’s Villa this week because there was a campus-wide event that was happening in their chapel at the same time we are scheduled to meet. So our group focused on cutting down our script even further, which is difficult because Act III is long and we do not want to have our kids lose focus or interest because of the length. We also ended up cutting a couple characters from the scene, such as Feste, if they lacked important lines because we know that we won’t have many kids and don’t want to have them all playing multiple parts.

I am worried and a little bit nervous about the lack of consistency that we have experienced so far because we have yet to meet with our group and do not even know if we will have more than 2 or 3 steady players for our act. Because there are two groups working with St. Joseph’s, it is hard to get enough kids for both acts, and since the other group started before us, they already have some of the kids who would be interested in acting. I am looking forward to this Thursday, and keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out. Timone, who has been helping us, is really engaged with the students at the Villa, and I am confident that he will help recruit a few of them to act with us.

Our week had a promising start after we met with Timone, one the coordinators at St. Joseph’s Villa, on Tuesday and he showed us around their campus and introduced us to a few students. We were eager to meet with our group on Thursday, and had prepared some icebreakers and theater games to get acquainted with the kids, and get them out of their comfort zones. We were ready to give and overview of Twelfth Night and a rundown of the major characters, but when we showed up on Thursday, there were no students to meet with. We spoke to Timone, and learned of a time conflict with another class that had several students interested in acting, but fortunately, my group was all able to move our meeting time up an hour to accommodate.


I received a message today from Timone saying that there will be an event in our practice space next Thursday, so we may not be meeting any of the kids we will be working with until 2 weeks from now. While this is obviously frustrating, it gives us more time to prepare our script and cut it down further, since it is one of the longest in the play. We also will be able to meet and figure out how we can use our time wisely at the Villa, because I am already getting the feeling that we may not have very many rehearsals over the course of the semester.