This week we had our last rehearsal with our kids. They seemed super excited to get back to rehearsals and greeted us right when we walked in the door. We had one of our girls, who came almost every week, casted as Viola but when we got to the site we learned that she had moved to “the south side” of town.

At the start of rehearsal a lot of the girls told us they had a cooking class for five minutes and would be at rehearsal when they were done. We found out that they actually did not have a cooking class and instead went somewhere to get brownies. Once they returned and we had our entire group, we had an extremely productive rehearsal.

We started by play a quick game that they all like called “Mr. Fox” then went straight into rehearsals. We asked all of them what parts they still wanted to play and asked if they wanted to have extras. Luckily Jamirah, who never really seemed as though she wanted to be at rehearsal, wanted a bigger role and decided to take on the role of Viola. We went through the entire act with them, asking them to act according to how they thought their character would act. We also brought them props to use and try on before the actual play. I think that this made them even more excited about the play, knowing they could wear crowns and tiaras. They did a much better job running through the scripts than I thought they would and did not have much trouble with the words. Tyvell, who played Duke Orsino, was my one concern because when he didn’t know any of the words he would jumble them all together or make up words. None of the kids made fun of him and it didn’t seem to bother him when he did this which I was happy about. Reading through the act took the majority of the rehearsal time so when we were done we asked the kids who had their permission slips in so we could get a possible number of how many we would have during the play. We sent them home with posters of play and could see how excited they were about it.


This week, Sarah and I decided to play games with the kids that would get the more excited about the play. We did not want spend another session reading through the script and wanted to give them a break from sitting and quietly listening, waiting for their chance to read. The first game we played with them was one that allowed them to use their improvisation skills. We all stood in a circle and each person had to say one word to create a story. While the stories never made sense at all, the kids really liked this game and had to focus on what was said before them so that they could supply a word that a least made marginal sense. We played this game a few more times before moving onto one called “Grandma.” For this game, one person stood at one side of the room while the rest stood on the other side. Grandma had her back to the group and while she was facing away from them they had to try to sneak up to her before she turned around and they had to freeze on the spot. If they were caught moving, they had to go back to where they started. The last game we played with them was by far my favorite. It is called “Mr. Fox” and is very similar to the “Grandma” game. The group of kids had to ask Mr. Fox what time it was and when  they were given a time they had to take that many steps closer to Mr. Fox. When Mr. Fox said midnight he turned around and chased them back to the start, if they got tagged they were out. The kids had to ask Mr. Fox “Mr. Fox, Mr. Fox what time is it?” so Sarah and I told them different emotions that they had to ask the sentence in. For example, we used sad, happy, angry, depressed, distressed, sleepy, etc. We also had them say it in ways they thought the characters in the play would.

Both Sarah and I really liked this game because it was a great break from reading the scripts while still paying attention to the play. I absolutely loved seeing the smiles on their faces while they played this game and am looking forward to what we do with them next week!

This week, the kids were a lot more obnoxious that they usually are. A few of the girls in our group like to be rough with one another while a few of the others just sit in chairs in the corner like this is the last thing they want to be doing. It is really difficult for me to see this because I want the kids to have fun with this play and not feel like it is just another chore on there list of things they have to do for the day. Our goal for the next session is to play more games with the kids and be more interactive instead of just sitting and reading through the script. Hopefully they will get a little more out of it this way!

This week the kids started acting up, more than they usually do. I think we had this coming because nothing went wrong for the weeks leading up to this one. One of the problems we ran into is that we ran out of games to play with them because some of them are just not interested at all in the games we decide to play with them; they seem to think they are too cool for those games. Another issue we ran into is that the handful of girls who are in our group are in seventh grade and act rather immaturely during practice. They like to be loud and boisterous and run around and hit each other. Surprisingly, the boys we have in our group are so well-behaved and absolutely adorable. This shocked me because I went into this project thinking that we would run into more problems with the boys than with the girls. Once we got their attention we decided to run through the script with all of the kids, and not break into multiple groups, because we had such a small group that day. It went really well and we found that some of the boys wanted to take on multiple parts. I was really happy when some of the kids asked if they could take their scripts home to practice. Even though it feels like it has taken a few weeks for them to get excited about this I think they are finally realizing how cool it is that they are putting on a Shakespeare play!

Our third week with the kids went really well. We decided to split into multiple groups so that there was a limited amount of time when the kids are sitting around doing nothing. We had one group of kids rehearse their lines while the other group worked on the set. We have found that we have a rather large group of kids who do not want to speak in the play at all and would rather work on the set and costumes. It was hard at first to work towards what they wanted but we ended up finding a way to let them work on the set and costumes. We had them design what they wanted the ship to look like and Maren showed them the stage at the Henderson location so that they had an idea of what they were working with.

On the fourth week, we worked again in the smaller groups. This week we had a huge group of kids, much larger than we usually get. I think they needed a place for some of the kids so they just gave them to us. Fortunately, the majority of the kids had an interest in the play and wanted to have a part in it. It was hard to adjust to the large number of kids but I think we managed it well. At the end of our time with the kids we did “trick or treating” and Maren, Sarah and myself spread out in the room and allowed the kids to trick or treat for candy we gave them.

This week we really started to work with our kids on reading through the script. We started with a few games before sitting them down to read through the script. Now that we have a small room all to ourselves, it is easy to hear the kids speak. In the session before, we casted and explained the parts to the kids while giving them out to them. This week a good amount of the kids from the week before returned, which was somewhat of a relief. When reading through the script, it was amazing to see that a lot of the kids could read through it pretty well, as if they had red Shakespeare before. We have one kid who is playing Duke Orsino who has some trouble reading through the script and forming the correct words but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. The kids seem extremely excited about the play. Especially one girl who was not happy to be there at all who, by the end, was asking to read more lines and potentially have a bigger part in the play. We are excited to see how many kids come back this week and we are excited to start focusing on props and costumes!

After many class periods of preparation and cutting the script, we were finally able to meet with the kids from HA-Henderson. I was extremely excited to meet all of them and get started with this project and I really did not know what to expect. When we arrived, we entered a huge gym that doubled as a cafeteria where there were over 75 kids waiting for their mentors. Initially, I thought all of those kids were for the Jepson project and I wanted to run out the door, how could we manage 75 kids? There are not enough roles for 75 kids yet alone 20! The kids actually ended up being broken up between different groups and we received about 15-20 kids.

We started by playing a game with them in which one of us would say a statement such as “jump forward if you like candy” and if they did they would jump forward. They really seemed to enjoy this game, trying to jump further forward than their friends. After that we played the name game and asked them to give us their name age and an animal that started with the first letter of their name. This went well, yet, the only downfall was that we could not hear the kids because the room was so large and there were so many people in it. After this, we played another game in which each kid was given and animal and they then had to find their pair without speaking, just using motion and noises. Most of them liked this game while others found it pointless and childish. Lastly, we started to explain the storyline of act 1 to them. To my surprise, there were a lot of kids who were really interested by the play, while others balked at the size of the packed of lines we handed to them. Hopefully some of the kids to sparked an interest in the play will return next week.

All in all, I think this session went really well. Our goal for next week is to start delving more into the play while still playing games. We also hope to get a room dedicated to just our group so that we will be able to hear everyone.

Our first meeting at HA- Henderson is not until the following week on September 29th, so this week acted as a time for us to prepare for our first meeting. Since we have the first act, which is historically the longest act in Shakespeare’s plays, we really directed our focus this week on cutting down the act to around fifteen minutes. It was incredibly difficult to determine what parts of the act to keep in order to maintain the main themes of the act while cutting it a lot shorter. Once we had it initially cut down, we decided to read through the entire act to ensure that it was under fifteen minutes. Unfortunately the act was a little longer than we expected so we had to do some more cutting until we believed it would finally satisfy the time limit.

Next week, when we meet with the Henderson kids, we plan to just introduce ourselves as well as the play and the act we are focusing on. We don’t want to jump right into starting lines but rather want to start with a few improv games as well as maybe the name game. With our act cut down and our plans set, I am excited to get rolling with this project next week.

Page Soper