I can’t believe it is over.  It seemed so far away in September when we first learned about the project and picked the play we would perform.  The performance was a blast! I loved getting my face turned into a moon by Dr. Bezio, and getting to spontaneously act in another act.  It was been such a great experience getting to work with the OSHER participants over the last few months.  They were kind and enthusiastic and patient till the very end and I believe they truly enjoyed themselves. We, “peaked just at the right time,” as one of the actors from our scene commented after the show.  It was very special to watch John act on stage.  He talked a lot about how he was doing this for him, because it was out of his comfort zone.  He lost his son the day before the performance and yet took time to come and rock his parts as Lysander and Oberon.  I am very proud of what he accomplished and hope he gained a lot from his experience acting for the first time. After the show I send the group photos of our act.  John replied with a lengthy email in which he expressed how much he enjoyed the experience and asked us a question, “what did you learn from this experience which we collectively could have done better, as a team?”  I learned that shakespeare still has the ability to being people and communities together. Regardless or gender, age, and background.  Learning to understand shakespeare and as a team to put on a play, or in our case an act from a play, lead to a sense of community and built relationships and friendships that transcend all differences.  This project has been a rewarding experience and I believe we did an excellent job performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because we did so as a cohesive group.

We accomplished a lot in our last meeting with our actors. We went over when to be at the recital hall and where to park.  We also went through the act twice all the way through and it was our best run through yet! Everyone was present and we had a great time. We made sure we knew all of the props we are going to use were arranged and made final decisions on costumes.  We still do not know if we will have one of our actors tomorrow as his son is probably going to pass away in the next two days if he has not already.  I admire his strength and courage, he always has the most enthusiastic attitude about being there and he says he is doing this play “for himself.” I can’t wait to see all of our actors and actresses perform tomorrow and I hope that they will all be able to attend. Our group is prepared to help out the other acts if they have missing actors, by reading the parts.  We have a work day in class today and will be sending in our final script of our act, our cast list as it stands currently (though it may be subject to change) and our final list of props.  We wrote the 100 word summary of our act, that will appear in the program, last night and went over it with our OSHER participants.  I can’t wait to play moonshine tomorrow night!!!

This week will be our last rehearsal before the performance next Friday.  Where has the time gone! You know what they say time flies when you are having fun. It has been a great experience so far and I know we are all very excited for the performance.  The plan this week, hopefully everyone will be able to attend, is to run through the script a few times without interruption to make 100% sure there is no confusion.  All of the actors seem comfortable with their lines and know their stage directions.  We are prepared to step in and help another group fill in any gaps that arise in their cast and look forward to seeing all of the other groups in action!  We are still going with modern dress for our costumes and incorporating the icon associated with each character throughout the performance.  This week we will also go over the protocol for the beginning of each act.  The performers will file on stage introduce themselves and tell the audience who they will be in the play, to help the audience have any hope in following who is who in each act.  It should be a great event filled with laughter and opportunities to learn.  Can’t wait to meet with my group on Wednesday.

This week week I was unable to attend our rehearsal due to a swim meet, and they decided to cancel due to low attendance.  We have a pretty solid hold on our scene so a week off will not set us back.  I plan on getting the script for act 4 out to the group relatively soon, if we are still needed to fill in.  The OSHER participants expressed an interest in being able to look at the scene prior to the production if they were to perform it, so I will do my best to get that to them in the next week.  We are getting more excited as the date of the production gets closer and look forward to seeing all the work the other groups have put into their scenes! We continue to leave the very end of the play up in the air until the day of the performance, but beyond that all of the staging etc. is set in stone.  I have been very appreciative of the enthusiasm the OSHER players have exhibited thus far in the process and hope the high energy level will continue till the day of the performance! We will not meet next week as it is Thanksgiving break and the leaders will all be home for the holiday.  Our next meeting will be December 2nd just two days before the production.  We feel confident as a group that our scene will go smoothly and plan on working out any last minute details on the 2nd.

Our most enthusiastic, and focused cast member was sick today, leading to a different atmosphere at rehearsal.  The three of us that were there a few minutes early had a discussion about different majors at UR and I got to learn a little about their lives which was fun.  The cast member who was dealing with a family emergency last week was back this week, however, he informed us that his participation may be limited due to his son being in critical care in the advanced stages of a terminal illness.  Hopefully he will be with us on the day of the performance, but we have a backup plan if need be.  We went through the play with the people present, and then talked about logistics.  I told them that the idea of having the kids come on stage before Puck’s final speech would have to be flexible, seeing as we don’t know how squirmy and out of control the other groups will be.  To that they jokingly said they were grateful I had confidence in their ability to behave themselves…   We also talked about the possibility of filling in for Act 4 if need be, which they were all happy to do.  To that effect I told them I would bring at least one copy of that groups script so we could go over it next week.  We decided that even if we don’t end up needing to fill roles it would still be a great opportunity to understand more of the play and get to know our characters.  We look forward to next weeks rehearsal which will be our second to last time together before the performance.

Today we found out that we will only have three OSHER participants at the show due to family emergencies and illness. With that in mind we divided up the lines as best we could and are going to ask one of the professors, or another students, at the performance to step in as Hippolyta. We had fun putting on costumes and deciding what “sharp” object in the prop box Pyramus should use to boach his boiling bloody breast. One of the OSHER participants has gotten super into it and has memorized at least two of her longer lines in order to better get into character, quite impressive.  She always has ideas on how to make our scene better, including getting on us about our lack of acting when we don’t have lines… It seems at though everyone is getting more comfortable with their lines and is having fun, which is what we like to see!

An idea that was thrown out today was that maybe all of the kids could come on stage right before Puck says his final line, that way everyone is already on stage to bow and be applauded at the end of the performance.  What are people’s thoughts on this? Good idea? Too complicated?

Today was a work day in class. We took time to look through the prop box and figure out what we still need.  Our plan for tomorrow night is to go through the prop box with the OSHER participants.  We plan on having Hippolyta and Theseus wear the crown that our class chooses.  Lysander and the other nobles will be in business casual attire. The mechanicals will be dressed in overalls and or jeans to indicate that they are of the working class.  Bottom will wear a hat when he is playing Pyramus in the play within the play to differentiate between his rolls.  We need to obtain a lantern and beg someone for the use of their puppy, for moonshine’s costume.  The rest of the props are being obtained by Dr. Bezio and or brought in by the OSHER actors.  We are hoping that we will have a good turn out at rehearsal tomorrow night and can have a productive run through and work out the details of props and costumes.

This week at our run through we talked about how to bring to bring our characters personality to life.  One of the Osher women sneezed during one of her lines as prologue and though this would be a great touch to bring his flustered, lower class persona to life.  We also double checked stage cues and directions to determine the appropriate time for that actor to come on and off the stage. Though there only 5 of us at rehearsal it was fun for everyone to get to play different rolls from their assigned parts.  I had fun playing Thisbe’s roll, and getting to die on stage!

 

One of the men in our group has never acted in a play and is doing this as an exercise to stretch his comfort zone. The first week of rehearsal he asked for a small part as he was nervous about having lines, we assured him that it was low stress and there was no need to memorize.  He ended up accepting a larger roll and this week voluntary filled in for Pryamis.  It has been fun to watch him grow though the process thus far and gain confidence with every run though.

 

We are taking a break from rehearsals next week, due to many of the Osher participants having trips to New York City, Europe, etc. (must be nice!), but look forward to having everyone present at the next rehearsal.  This next week the three of us will plan what we can do at the beginning of next rehearsal that would be fun, since we have a pretty solid grasp on our scene at this point. If anyone has ideas let us know!!

 

Yes, it can as we proved Wednesday night.  We had a small group of Osher participants this week, however, our meeting was still productive.  One of the women in our group, who is beyond enthusiastic about acting and performance, brought in props and a costume she had made for Wall. Another participant got the opportunity to read though his lines and start learning the blocking (since he was not present last week).  We made a few more adjustments to the script and discussed the concept of where to put the nobles who are watching the play within the play.  We came to the conclusion that we want them to be on the stage and can have them sitting on an angle facing the players and the audience.  We had a conversation about inflection and how the lines are supposed to be read and thought about the meaning behind some of the lines in order to reflect the full emotion and humor though tone and gestures. We had planed to play the game we played on the first day we met, but with characters and situations from act 5, however, we did not have enough people present nor enough distinctive characters to make it really fun.  Hopefully next week we will have a bigger group and can continue to block and rehearse scenes.  We are well on our way to having a great production of the last act!

During our work day on Tuesday our group started to discuss costumes and props needed for Act 5.  Then during our rehearsal on Wednesday night we proposed our ideas to the group.  We had some great conversations about props with out Osher folks, including what exactly a horned moon is (evidently it is a crescent moon for anyone that is curious).  We came to the conclusion that the nobles, who are observing the play within the play,  should be dressed in business attire while the mechanicals should be in jeans and or coveralls (which we learned are called dungarees in Britain).  We went though the scene and started doing a bit of blocking to make sure the scene held together even with the cuts.  A few adjustments were made the stage directions, and a few lines were reassigned to different characters. It was a successful rehearsal and we look forward to continuing to block and work though our script next week.