What a night!

After a long, tiring Friday it felt wonderful to know that we had put on a solid group production and that all of the struggles and adversity our group experienced during this semester didn’t hold us back from producing a successful Act 4.

While waiting for the students to arrive, Molly, Allison and I assisted Dr. Bezio and the rest of our classmates with setting up props and taking care of other last minute details. We also decided who in our group would play the fairies Cobweb, Peaseblossom, and Mustardseed, and asked Dr. Bezio to give us the appropriate stage make up respective to our assigned fairy role.

When the John Marshall students showed up, we were told that one of the students could not make the production, so we needed to find another Egeus. Thankfully, Oliver offered his acting services and took on that role for us. For those students who wanted it, Dr. Bezio put on stage make up and it became clear that they were super excited to get the show started!

The only other major hiccup we had occurred when one of the students had to leave before we went on stage because she was scheduled to work. I believe she thought that we would finish earlier than we expected to finish, so her father had to come pick her up mid-show. Although we were a bit frustrated, we were more concerned that she was so upset about having to leave and wanted to make sure she was okay. We made the necessary character adjustments, and effectively diffused the situation: Ms. Ramsay got to participate in the play!

While waiting for the show to begin, we got to spend some time sitting with the students and Ms. Ramsay. It was nice to have the time to talk about something other than the production, and really get to know more about these students who we worked with a large part of the semester.

The show turned out to be a large success. It was entertaining to watch the other acts and see how everything came together for them on stage, knowing some of the trials and triumphs we heard about other groups during class. Everyone gave their best effort and it was so great to see different age groups come together to put on one show. I felt so proud of our group, especially after we struggled so much to have committed students. It was extremely rewarding to see how well all of our hard work payed off this semester, and you could tell the students loved every minute of it –That was the best part of the whole experience.

On Monday, November 23, our group finally had a complete and successful rehearsal… only two weeks before the production. Following the previous week’s miscommunication, we straightened things out with Mrs. Ramsay and sent out an email Sunday afternoon. We showed up to John Marshall to find six students, and two of them were completely new to the Jepson project.

We started out rehearsal with a read through of the entire script for Act 4 with all of the students. Once we read through the script we had to explain to the new students what happened in the rest of the play in order for our Act to make sense.

Following the read through, we took the group to a classroom down the hall that had a mini stage, and attempted to act out the first scene in Act 4. Since we were unsure who would actually show up next week for our final rehearsal, we only assigned temporary parts. We had to double up for Titania and Hippolyta, Theseus and Oberon, and Bottom and Egeus. Allison and I took on the fairy roles and filled in for Egeus, since there weren’t enough students there to fill all the parts. We successfully ran through scene 1 and did blocking with the students.

Before leaving rehearsal, we asked if they would all be returning the following week for our LAST rehearsal. Everyone said yes, so we left hoping that they were being honest and would actually show up. I got the new student’s emails so I could include them on our Sunday afternoon email to confirm if they were showing up or not for Monday. We felt that the rehearsal was very successful, but we also felt anxious since we only had one rehearsal left before the production in two weeks.

We had our final rehearsal on Monday November 30, only four days before the production. I sent the attendance email Sunday afternoon to see who would be coming to rehearsal, and surprisingly, I received three responses! That’s three more than we usually received… Molly was unable to join because of a flight delay, so we updated her on how the rehearsal went and she was great about asking what else she could do to make up for missing rehearsal.

When we arrived to John Marshall, we found six or seven students, and one of them was brand new. At this point, we needed bodies so we were in no place to complain about last minute additions. We took the students to the classroom with the stage and read through both scenes in the Act. This time, we took the prop box to rehearsal so the students could pick out the fairy wings, hats, and accessories that they wanted for their character(s). Although we were unsure who would actually be showing up on the day of the production, we decided to assign official roles so the students could practice specific blocking for their characters. We ran through the Act twice, and went over some areas that needed a little extra work before we left. Overall, a very successful rehearsal for how little we actually have worked with these students over the semester.

Throughout the week, I sent emails to the students to confirm transportation needs and to remind them about details for Friday. I forwarded the transportation info to Dr. Bezio and Dr. Soderlund to keep them in the loop. During the final class work day, Molly, Allison and I sent Dr. Bezio our cut version of Act 4, the play synopsis for the programs, and all of our music clips needed during our Act. We also decided who in our group would be playing Cobweb, Peaseblossom, and Mustardseed.

Stay tuned for a blog post about the production!

After last week’s sudden cancellation of rehearsal, Molly got into contact with Laura to figure out what happened. She told Molly that her husband was in the hospital and she didn’t know when she would be back to school, therefore Verenda would be updating us on future rehearsals and her status. By Monday morning (November 16th), we heard nothing from Verenda or Laura, so we figured that rehearsal was off. We didn’t want to call Laura and harass her about rehearsal if her husband was still in the hospital, because obviously the Shakespeare production is not as important as her husband’s health.

We updated Bezio about this in class, and discussed the possibility of joining with the Osher group from Act 5.

On that following Wednesday, I received an email from Bezio saying that Laura sent an email to Dr. Soderlund complaining that no one showed up to rehearsal and there were kids waiting after school (shockingly).  Long story short, there was some miscommunication between our group and the site that needed to be fixed.

By the end of the week, everything was sorted out. Rehearsal would definitely be back on the next Monday before Thanksgiving break.

Last Sunday afternoon, we sent out an email to our John Marshall students with a survey to see who would be attending rehearsal the following day. Only one student replied, and she told us that she couldn’t make it to the next rehearsal due to other commitments, but was interested in attending later rehearsals.

Since we only received one reply to the email, before we left Richmond on Monday I called John Marshall High School to speak to Mrs. Ramsay and ask her how many kids stayed after school. When the secretary transferred me to her class room phone, no one answered and I was redirected back to the main office. Molly called again to try one more time before we left. She was told that Mrs. Ramsay didn’t come in that day. Annoyed and frustrated, we stayed on campus.

Apparently Molly got into contact with Mrs. Ramsay the following day, and was told that she was going through some family issues and didn’t know when she would be back. Everything seems very up in the air at this point and we aren’t sure where to go from here. I really hope everything is okay with Mrs. Ramsay!

In class on Tuesday, we brought this up with Dr. Bezio. There is a possibility that we may have to give our act to the Osher group, and start joining rehearsals on Wednesday evening. So far, we are still waiting to hear back from Ms. Ramsay and/or Verenda Cobbs to see how we can fix our dilemma.

 

We attempted to email the students ahead of time to see how many would be showing up, but we didn’t get the email out until mid-day this past Monday. On our way to John Marshall, we decided to call Laura just to make sure there would be students present when we arrived. Unfortunately, no one stayed after school, so we turned around. I told her that we would try to get the email out sooner, we just fell behind on getting it out sooner this time.

During the short ride back to school, we discussed what we should do… We definitely should have sent the email out earlier, say Sunday, and that’s on us. However, we did talk about the fact that it seems they aren’t very motivated anyways to stay after school regardless of if we send an email or not. We decided to make sure we send out an email by Friday so they have time to see it. If that doesn’t work, I don’t see what else will get them there.

 

This past Monday, our group showed up to John Marshall to find one student who stayed after school to participate in the rehearsal. Since Mrs. Ramsey had no way to contact us via phone, she was unable to let us know that no one else was showing up for rehearsal that day until we arrived. Apparently half of the students have after school activities, but the other half just felt like going home that day. She believes that she has less of an authoritative stance to get the students to stay for rehearsal than if Molly, Allison, or I were to ask them to stay.

Mrs. Ramsey asked if we had any ideas to get the students to stay and be more accountable. I said food always attracts people (I would know from personal experience). We also discussed possibly emailing the students the weekend before to inform them on exactly what we will be doing at rehearsal as well as asking them who will be able to commit the night before, that way we know our numbers ahead of time. Maybe by telling them what we plan on doing they will be more inclined to show up. Mrs. Ramsey sent  their emails to Molly, so we will definitely try that out for next week.

Hopefully we are successful!

Monday, October 19th was an exciting day for Act 4 of the Jepson Shakespeare Project!

We showed up to John Marshall with enough numbers to have a successful first rehearsal. Upon our arrival, we did a quick name refresher in case they forgot ours (and we most definitely forgot some of their names). We jumped right into some acting games to warm up and get comfortable with one another. First, we played zip zap zop which actually got pretty competitive. Then, we played the Honey, will you marry me? game, which Allison had to explain to everyone. To play, you ask the person next to you “honey, will you marry me?” in a way that will make that person laugh and they are trying not to laugh or else they are out of the game. It was pretty funny since there was only one guy and six girls. Surprisingly, they all got really into the game and tried so hard to make each other laugh, us included. What I love about this group is that they are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and are really good at participating!

After a good warm up, we had everyone get out their scripts and proceeded to do a read through of the first half of scene 1, act 4. We read from Titania’s “Come, sit thee down…” line up until the part where Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus enter the scene. While reading through that section, we stopped a few times to explain what was going on, and offer possible staging ideas. I wrote down their ideas in the margins of my script. We asked the students which roles they potentially wanted to play, which turned into actually casting the roles to those students. Because of our low numbers, and having all of the characters in act 4, some students had to double up. Molly, Allison and I will most likely be playing the fairies (YAY).

After we assigned roles, our group went into the hallway and ran through the first three pages of our script twice. We tried out some of the staging ideas we brainstormed earlier in the class room.

It’s awesome how enthusiastic these students are to be a part of the Jepson Shakespeare Project! When we left the rehearsal, Allison and I couldn’t get over how well they participated in the acting games and reading through the script. We look forward to meeting with them this coming Monday.

Also, the students finally decided they want to have a donkey head instead of a unicorn head for Bottom. We’re making moves…

Unfortunately, we were unable to meet with the John Marshall students last Monday since we were on fall break until Wednesday. We notified Laura that we would be returning the following Monday, Oct 19th for our next rehearsal.

In the mean time, we are trying to finalize our prop list for the first part of act 4. Last time we met with the students, we told them that it is really up to them how they want to stage the movements based on the text. During our last work day, Molly, Allison and I brainstormed some stage directions for each character to give the students an idea of what may work for certain scenes. On Thursday, I went through our script and wrote down any notes or ideas that came to mind.

The last few visits to John Marshall were unsuccessful in terms of being able to start working with the students on the script and begin casting, so we are hoping that this coming Monday there will be enough students to get started!

Last Monday, Molly Allison and I returned to John Marshall High School for the second time. When we arrived, there were only three students in the classroom, one of which was new to the Jepson Shakespeare Project.

Laura informed us that a few of the students who would have stayed for rehearsal went home because there was such a long gap of time between school ending and us arriving, so only three students were present. She asked if we could possibly arrive earlier so they wouldn’t have to wait so long between school ending and rehearsal. Unfortunately, I have class until 2:45 so I told her we would try to get there as soon as possible, but I can’t leave class earlier than that time.

We gave the new student a script and gave a synopsis of Act 4 and the characters involved. Since there were only a few students, we couldn’t start rehearsal. Instead, we talked about college applications, scholarships, Richmond, and high school classes with the students for a bit before leaving. We also reminded Laura that we are on fall break this coming Monday, and will meet with the group the following Monday, October 19th.

During the class work day on Thursday, we read through the first part of scene one and wrote down any props we may need as well as possible staging directions. We also worked with the script to see if we could combine any fairy characters since we are probably only going to have around six or seven students at John Marshall and need to fill fourteen characters.