I woke up this Friday morning and went to my 10:30 class. As I was leaving the class room to head back home to shower, change, eat lunch, and then head to the performance, I received a text message from one of my friend that said it was suppose to snow. I first laughed and thought “no way we get more than a dusting”. As I continued to head back to the apartments I checked weather.com and saw that we were suppose to get 1-3 inches. For Richmond, that is a lot of snow. When I read this, I immediately thought about our production being cancelled, but I honestly did not think that was going to happen. Once I was home and had relaxed for a little bit, I checked my email and saw that Dr. Bezio had emailed us. Again, this email was a “up in the air” email, she said things might be cancelled. I was sad when this was a possible thought coming from my teacher, rather than the thought just coming from my head. From this point on, I literally checked my email every 5 minutes and was texting my fellow directors.
When we got the email that said the performance was cancelled I was immediately heart broken. First, I was sad for our scholars, especially for our Macbeth. Macbeth had worked so hard, was so invested, and was so creative when it came to acting. He was so excited every time we had rehearsal and I felt like we let him down. Next, I was honestly disapointed for myself, Natalie, and Grace. We had spent so much time with these kids and I really felt like I bonded with them. I am really hoping I am able to work with Higher Achievement next semester to keep these relationships alive.
Overall, this experience was unique and I learned a lot. I loved bonding with the children and creating relationships. I really learned how to be patient, how to tame a rowdy group and how appreciate the good fortune that I have.
This week we were excited to head over to Boushall for our last practice before the big performance. We finally found a tactic to get the kids to be quiet if they were not on stage acting. We sat them down as if they were in the audience which we have done before, but this time we bribed them to be quiet by telling them they would get candy at the end. This bribery worked so well. All the kids were quiet in the audience while those that were on stage were acting. Because of this we were able to run through the play so smoothly. It made me feel so confident that the kids were ready for the big day.
Not only were the kids acting skills on point this week, their enthusiasm was there too. Three kids said that they had not turned in their permission slip but that they wanted to go to the performance really bad. They asked for another permission slip and promised they would bring it back tomorrow so they could participate. Other kids that had said from the beginning that they did not want to act or that they did not want to have lines, decided out of no where that they wanted to act and have lines. This was so exciting for Natalie, Grace, and I. We were excited that the kids wanted to take part and act now.
At the end of rehearsal, the kids were so excited for the big day. They said that they were all going to get good nights of sleep and that they would come the following day all ready to act. I was so pleased with this rehearsal that it made me so excited for the performance the next day.
Tonight started off very poorly if I am being honest. I babysit from 2:30-5 on Thursdays so typically I drive from babysitting back to campus to change or grab a snack for a quick 10 minutes then I head off to Boushall Middle School. Tonight was a little different. The mom of the children I babysit did not return until 5:10 so I was not in my car until 5:12. I decided I did not have enough time to go back to campus and change but I also knew I was going to be about 10 minutes early to rehearsal, assuming traffic was normal. Well I was wrong. It took me 58 minutes to get to rehearsal instead of the normal 30 minutes. I sat in non-moving traffic for a while and got to rehearsal 10 minutes late. Thankful Grace and Natalie did not run into the traffic that I ran into and they were there on time to start rehearsal.
Once I got there, we started a full run through of the play. We showed all the witches their hats and other props and they were so excited. The witches are in good shape for the play. As the play continued, Macbeth did great as always, but most of the other kids just stand there on the “stage” and read their lines. I have come to the realization that no matter what I tell the kids, they really have a hard time coming out of their comfort zones. They do not like to run around the stage and fully commit themselves to a character, which is understandable for a 5th grader.
At the end of rehearsal after we ran through the play once, we gave everyone their permission slips. Crossing my fingers they all bring them back. We got asked a lot of questions about transportation, and most of the questions I did not have answers to. This is something I will bring up and ask about in class on Monday. Overall I think our part of the play will cary its weight but I am actually starting to get nervous for next Friday!
This week at Boushall Higher Achievement was the annual Thanksgiving feast so rehearsal was cancelled. This was a bummer for us because we could have used the extra time to practice! But hopefully the kids are practicing their lines on their own. I wish we had some way of contacting them to remind them. We are also missing this week as well because it is actual Thanksgiving. That is two Thursdays in a row that we will not have practice. I think we only have one more practice before the show!! That is crazy! We need to gauge costume ideas, make up ideas, and make sure the kids know what they are doing the following Thursday! This will be our last rehearsal before the big show!
We started this week off with a classic game of bull frog! The kids love this game; they love to find creative ways to act out dying! The game started off going well as we all sat in a circle on the ground, but as kids started “dying” they refused to lie on the dirty ground so we honestly could not tell who had been killed and who had not been killed. So it did not end perfectly, but the kids still enjoyed it and had a blast like always.
After warming up the children’s acting skills we split into small groups based on the scenes we were going to practice acting out. Our Macbeth once again out shined everyone else. He is so good at reading, speaking in his British accent, and acting. He is not afraid to move around the stage, do silly things on the stage, and he really gets into his character. He inspired the others in his group act as best as they could. Some students were shy and just stood on the stage, but once they saw how energetic Macbeth was, they started to get some energy and move around stage. The project is finally all coming together. I am nervous because next week, there is a Thanksgiving Feast, so we will not have rehearsal. We sent the kids home with scripts in hopes they will practice their acting skills and lines!
We cut our script down a lot during the week which was much needed. We made sure each character never said more than 5 lines at a time. We thought if the lines were not that long, the children would not be as nervous to read them, and they would then read them faster with more confidence. Going into our Thursday night session, I was hopefully we would be able to get through the script much faster than the previous times.
We started off our session with a couple rounds of charades. This got the kids out of their seats and practicing their acting skills. They loved it! The kids that were typically shy, were still shy during this game, but for the most part the kids got into it! It is fun to see their personalities coming out each week. Some girls are so sweet, while others talk bad about each other. The boys on the other hand are typical 5th grade boys. They are constantly running around and having a good time with each other.
Once charades was over, we went through the whole script pretty quickly. We made the kids stand when they were reading their lines. We also encouraged them to act as they were reading their lines. It hit us that we only have a few more practices before the performance, so we started to panic that the kids were just going to be standing on the stage reading their lines while not acting! Surprisingly the kids were ambitious with their acting skills.
Some students kept extra copies of their scripts to practice at home which was adorable. Some students even asked for extra posters so they could give one to their mom and keep the other in their room. Fingers crossed this enthusiasm is still with the kids on the day of the performance.
This week once again went well! It is exciting that every week keeps going well; it is making me very excited to start seeing everything come together. We started this session off with an improv game. The kids were not a huge fan of it. Most were uncomfortable making things up on the spot. They were excited in theory about the game, but then definitely got stage fright when they started the game. This was actually a surprise to me because they have been so good about reading their lines. They definitely prefer to have lines in front of them to read rather than make things up on the spot.
After the improv game, we assigned parts. This went really well. Everyone was happy with the part they got. Some were excited the did not have lines, some were excited they had main parts, and others were excited to be witches. I was relived that I did not have to deal with any complaints. We then started to read the script for the first time as a whole group and a first time as being characters. Macbeth blew my mind. He belted out in an amazing British accent and read his lines fluently in the accent. It was very impressive. After getting through a majority of the script, we handed out the posters. This made the kids so excited about the performance. I am really hopeful that the kids enthusiasm sticks for the rest of the winter. I hope there are not any no shows during the actual performance and I hope the children’s parents are on board with the play as well. They children asked to take home the scripts so they could practice their lines which was adorable. It shows they are dedicated and willing to work on their lines so the play turns out as well as it can! Fingers crossed this week goes smoothly as well.
This week was great! I am honestly so impressed with the kids we have. They are all respectful, enthusiastic, and have an open mind when it comes to Shakespeare. The attitude of the kids makes going to their school on a cold dark Thursday evening so much easier. I know they will be positive and fun to be around, so missing out on campus activities is not as miserable as I thought it was going to be. I have started to look forward to being around the kids, it is a good break from campus and being around the norms I am use to.
This week we started off with two truths and a lie. It was a great game to get to know the students. They were very creative with their truths and lies. I found out what the kids liked to do for fun, I found out about their family life, and I found out what students in the room were related. After everyone had a turn, we dove right back into reading Macbeth. We finished reading through the play, and for the most part, I think the students really understand what is going on. We then started asking students if they wanted lines or not and if they had a particular character they wanted to be. We had a good range of interests for all the parts. Some people wanted a lot of lines, others wanted to be witches, and some even wanted to be Macbeth. We told the kids we would take their considerations in mind and hopefully type up a casting list this week. We also told them that next week we would start to practice acting out the play. It finally feels like the play is coming together! It is exciting.
Every week I am more and more impressed by these students. They are so smart, good hearted, and kind. It honestly makes my Thursday nights, even if I have to miss fun parties or activities that are going on around campus.
Going into week two of Higher Achievement I was excited to see the kids again and get back to working on the play. I was optimistic at how this week would go because of how successful last week was. I walked into the building and the kids were so excited to see me. For the most part they all remembered my name and they were excited to start working on the play. There were a couple new faces, but they jumped right on board!
We started by doing a quick name reviewing session and then played a game of bullfrog to get the kids practicing their acting skills! The kids loved the game and they all came up with very unique ways to act out dying. After a couple rounds of this, we then sat in a circle and asked the kids what they remembered about the play Macbeth. To my surprise they were able to recount the whole play and even remembered the name of the characters! This impressed me so much. We then broke into small groups of 5 and started to read the scripts. There were about 6 kids that stood out to Natalie, Grace and I. They were very good at reading the script and were not afraid to pronounce the words. The rest of the kids were good at reading at well, but were a little more hesitant when it came to pronunciation. We did not get to read all the way through the script so we will probably start with that next time.
Week two was a success. It made me confident that we will be able to cast a great Macbeth and other characters. I am starting to form bonds with the kids and looking forward to next weeks session.
Thursday night came quickly; a long workweek flew by Thursday night was here before I knew it. I was tired from a long week at school and to be honest did not have the energy to go entertain middle school students for an hour. I was predicting that the middle school kids would have no interest in Shakespeare; I thought they would behave poorly and I thought they would not listen to me. I knew I did not have a choice to skip the practice and I knew I could count on the kids being excited to see me. I hopped into Natalie’s car and we all headed down to Boushall Middle School.
I was so surprised when I walked into the building. Higher Achievement was so organized and when the kids arrived they were all so respectful. They all listened to the rules, were quiet when they were supposed to be and we nice to each other. After the welcome and introduction given by one of the head workers of Higher Achievement, we split up into groups and were assigned our 15 students.
Our 15 students were 5th graders and were surprisingly so excited to be putting on a Shakespeare play. This took me by surprise; I was not expecting to have this much enthusiasm from the 5th graders. We started off by introducing what we would be doing the next 8 weeks then played some icebreakers. Once we were more familiar with the kids and the kids got to know us a little bit more, we showed them the cartoon video of Macbeth. After watching this, the kids were even more excited. So many people wanted to be Macbeth and the girls jumped at being witches.
The hour flew by so quickly. Overall the first meeting was a success. I am relieved and happy that the kids were so enthusiastic; hopefully they keep this motivation going! The kids gave me so much energy when I was there, even though I was exhausted from the week. I am already looking forward to our second meeting with them.