Well, we did it! Great job and congratulations to everyone in the class that worked hard to get this project together.
Viewing the final product was interesting, to say the least. Each group approached the project in a different way, which clearly showed across all five acts. Of course, this was partly due to inconsistencies with each group’s ability to get their act recorded with the students. Our act ended up going a more traditional route by recording the script with action figures as the characters, which worked best for our group. Other groups got very creative, combining drawings with pictures and having a combination of voices from the students in our class and the students with whom we worked.
One of the most obvious takeaways is simple how hard this is to do over Zoom. Beyond the communication issues in getting the actual recordings, it was very difficult to offer any direction over Zoom during the recording process. Our group, for example, could not really see where the characters were set up in the background. It turned out to be manageable due to the circumstances, but with all of the extra time and effort we put into just facilitating the project over Zoom, I felt like we did not get a chance to get into many technical details of the production, nor were we able to explore the meaning and intention of Shakespeare’s work and our adaptation. Admittedly, after writing that, I see that it probably would have been difficult to accomplish either of those goals under normal circumstances, but I felt like we struggled to even complete the project at all. The students with whom we worked largely had to take us at our word when explaining things, rather than breaking them down.
All-in-all, the full production was about what I expected, especially given the updates last week about recording our own voices if necessary. I think it is an accomplishment to even get all of the acts together in one coherent story, regardless if we missed some details the class decided on. For example, our group found it difficult to tell the story from a specific character’s (Hero, I think) perspective when working with the children. For whatever reason, the concept just did not click with them, and we had to prioritize making actual progress over incorporating that part of the story. But, by the end, it did not seem to affect the overall production because of the varied approaches. Each act had its unique eccentricities that set it apart from others, which made for an interesting overall watch.
We did it! We got all of our scenes recorded, and now we just have to edit them together to (hopefully) form a coherent story that resembles Much Ado About Nothing. I was unsure that we would be able to finish all of the scenes, but the teacher assisting the students did a really good job keeping them focused as they read the scripts. I could also tell that they were very engaged with the story as they were reading the script and understanding what was happening. By the last take, it almost seemed like they made changes in inflection and intonation as they voiced the characters in order to reflect the content of the scene.
It was very satisfying to finish all of the scenes. Developing both the story and the students’ comprehension of the story was a process throughout the semester, with more difficulty in the latter. Simplifying parts of the plot and changing the characters and setting helped, but giving the students more control about some details allowed them to translate the ideas of the play into terms that made sense to them. Once that happened, I could tell there was a difference in their approach. They were more excited to be working on the project because they felt connected to it. That was the most rewarding part of the project, far better than our work on the script and planning.
Unfortunately, technology issues prevented us from meeting with our group on Friday. This was very disappointing as we were hoping to film more scenes this week. Instead, we will have to try to film the rest of our scenes next Thursday. I’m honestly not sure if we’ll be able to get it done.
I don’t really have much else to add because we did not get a chance to actually meet. The group did use the time to plan what we would do next week, especially given the time crunch. I am hoping that we are able to quickly film the rest of the scenes so that we have all of Act V completed by the end of the semester.
We have our first scenes recorded! We wrote a script based on the students’ ideas so that we could record during the session on Thursday. Once the students had a script, characters, and backgrounds they drew on posters, I feel like they really understood what was going on in Act V. I could tell based on how they were reading the dialogue that they had an idea of how the characters would be talking.
It has been interesting using Act V for this project, because it is difficult to explain the somewhat illogical plot line to the kids. It took a while for them to understand why everything was happening, like Benedick challenging Claudio and Claudio apologizing to Hero. But once we worked with them to translate the story into terms that made more sense to them, they seemed much more excited and interested in the play.
I think that our group has done a good job planning deliverables for each meeting to keep us accountable. Because the meetings can sometimes get out of hand, between technology issues or keeping the students attentive, we always regroup with 15 minutes left to make sure we accomplish what we need to get done. With one scene filmed, I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product!
It kind of feels like things are coming together! Our group is now working on a basic script that we will then show to the students to get their input. They’ve drawn sets and picked out action figures for characters. I feel like they have a better grasp of the storyline than they did in weeks past.
My favorite part has definitely been the students’ personal touches they add, such as Benedick challenging Claudio to a one-on-one basketball game rather than a duel. It show how they are finding ways to adapt the story as well, not just us.
I also feel like our group has adjusted well to some of the difficulties we have faced. I think we’ve done a great job building a rapport with the students, which keeps them engaged. I also think that our flexibility during our weekly meetings has allowed us to maximize productivity. We make sure that the students are interested in what we are doing, and change our plans accordingly to keep their interest up. We’ve also dealt with some technological difficulties, as well as some issues with keeping the students attentive. Mostly, the remedy for that has been patience; the teacher steps in and gets us back on track.
I am really happy with our group’s progress this week! We have our scenes planned out with the adapted plot line and each character has been assigned an action figure. I feel like we were able to brainstorm more ideas with the students during this session, more so than previous sessions. Once they had a firmer grasp on the plot and characters, it seemed like they were more interested in coming up with plot points. They still needing some prompting, but I think that is just because they genuinely don’t know where they are supposed to be going with this. They also drew settings today, which allowed them to be a little more creative. Each student drew part of a setting for a scene, so that we can put the action figures in the setting and then ‘act’ out the play.
I am increasingly excited to see how the final result is. Once we got the students more excited about the project, they seemed to think of more ideas and have more fun. I’m hoping that they are excited to come up with dialogue for our next session, so we can begin recording!
I love working with kids. They can be difficult, but they approach things with such originality and honesty in a way that adults do not. I can already tell this is an amazing opportunity for us to experience Shakespeare with them. Our first meeting went as I expected. It took a few minutes for the students to warm up to us, but I feel like once we get them interested in specific aspects of the play, we’ll be able to engage with them more.
Moving forward, I am definitely excited to see how they want to create the play. While I feel like I have a general vision for Act V, I am more interested in how the students want to portray the characters and events. I want to see if they found the same issues with Much Ado that we did, and I hope they want to make some of the same changes we envision.