This week AJ, Dylan, and I arrived at Youth Life REMIX to find that only two of our students, Adrian and Janiyah, were present. Luckily Adrian’s theatrical spirit and Janiyah’s new-found enthusiasm for theater were enough to make today’s session productive. We started out by doing a cold reading of the part of Act V where Viola reveals her true identity. We then used a scene from She’s the Man to bring the tricky Shakespearean language to life and illustrate Act V’s plot. After viewing the film clip, we started to go over lines for our student’s chosen characters. Adrian will play Duke Orsino and Janiyah will play Olivia. Additional roles may be assigned as we progress through the script next week.
Midway through our rehearsal another student, Khaleel, arrived. Khaleel tried to jump into our rehearsal, adopting the role of Sebastian. However, he struggled with reading the lines cold. AJ, Dylan, and I are brainstorming how to address this reading issue with Khaleel. We hope that going over his lines with him several times will help him be more comfortable and be able to read them with confidence. We may also give him a few smaller parts so that he does not feel the pressure of long consecutive lines. We ended our rehearsal on a high note with a quick improvisational game that the students all enjoy. We are hoping that next week all five of our students will be present so that we can solidify character roles.
Our first visit to Youth Life went well. On the ride to our site we brainstormed how to approach our first session. We agreed that we would play some theater games and introduce the plot and characters of the play to our students. Upon arrival we met our five student-actors who varied in their excitement to be a part of our troupe. There was Adrian, a sixth grade boy who was eager to show us his inner thespian. The two girls in our group were shyer at first, but by then end of our hour everyone was excited about acting. The first game we played was zip-zap-zop. This game helped the students follow acting directions and get comfortable with one another. After this we played an improvisational game where AJ, Dylan, and I gave directions to the students throughout the scene to regularize them to acting with varying emotional and setting cues. This second game allowed the students to use their imaginations and get out of their respective comfort zones.
After we finished the theater games, we went over the plot and character roles of Twelfth Night. The students decided that the setting for Act V will be contemporary Miami. Next week we will assign character roles and start to go over the script. We may also show a scene from She’s the Man to help the students visualize the overlapping plot lines. On the whole I think our group will have a lot of fun rehearsing. There may be some bumps along the way, but those will all be part of the greater learning experience.