This week, I was unable to join Aleeza and Caroline in our first meeting with the students from T.C. Boushall Middle School due to a prior commitment. However, after talking to my group members, it has come to my attention that the first meeting did not go well. The students were disruptive and failed to do as they were told. Aleeza also mentioned that they enjoyed running around and playing with instruments that were sitting in the room. I had the weekend to reflect and come up with some ways to make the students more focused and participate in the activities.
If the children are as wild as I’m told, perhaps the best way to get them to cooperate is by being active the entire time they are rehearsing. At first, I toyed with the idea of having them participate in some physical pre-rehearsal theatre exercises. However, the kids may never want to settle down if they are all wound up from the get-go. Therefore, I think we should incorporate into rehearsal some sort of physical activity either throughout the entirety of rehearsal or at least until the students are too tired to be active. Maybe the kids would enjoy dancing when its their turn to read their lines, or having everyone dance until you it is your turn to read your lines, in which case you must remain very still.
This week we did not meet with our group: Higher Achievement – Boushall Achievement Center. These middle school students attend the T.C. Boushall Middle School located on 3400 Hopkins Road. We will be meeting on Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 pm starting Thursday, September 29th. Alan Delbridge, one of our site contacts, told the Act II group that our group will be on the smaller side. I think having a smaller group will be not only more beneficial to us, but also to the students as well. The rehearsals will feel more personal.
When we first meet on September 29th, we plan to start the session with a few theatre games to show the students that they can have fun in this casual setting. In order to introduce Act II of Twelfth Night, we will go over the cast list with the students and, depending on how our session goes, will assign parts. We will not begin rehearsing until the following week so the students are not too overwhelmed.
This week we did not get to meet with our group yet. Instead we worked on finishing the script. We are trying to have it finished by Monday so that we can ask Professor Bezio in class to print it so that we me have it on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s first meeting. Although we don’t plan to run lines during our first meeting, we plan to mainly work on getting-to-know-you exercises as well as improv exercises to get the kids excited about acting. Aleeza also had the idea for them to read different lines in different emotions/situations as a means to loosen them up and get them familiar with the script. I suggested we play the game hitchhiker which was a theater game one of my acting camps used to play. The game involves 4 chairs, three people are sitting in a car. The three people all have one quality and they have a destination. For example, nuns on their way to a wrestling match. The 4th person, the hitchhiker, get’s picked up during their improve. The hitchhiker has a quality that the other people adopt as the car ride progress. For example the hitchhiker has a fear of the walls closing in on him/her and so the nuns start to adopt this fear and forget their previous excitement of traveling to the wrestling match. It was a very fun game and really helped my theater friends and I develop our improv abilities. That being said, I used to do a lot of plays and musicals in high school and I am excited to help put on a production in a leadership position. I have choreographed dances before but I have not directed action/dialogue before, so I am looking forward to learning more about that aspect. Also, on a side note, there are a lot of bad things going on in our world as seen in the media and social platforms, so I hope this play can be used as a coping mechanism/distraction for those involved. As seen in Shakespeare Behind Bars, perhaps this play can help the children address things in their own lives, maybe not to the same degree, but hopefully it will cause them to think about their own lives in some way, shape or form.
This week Oliver and I spent our work days in class editing out script. We have Act II, which we are really excited about. It includes all the best characters and many roles for fairies if we have extra kids. I also think it will allow some fun acting and stage direction. While cutting down our script we tried to keep several things in mind. One, we wanted it to makes sense to audiences who know Shakespeare AND the kids. The plot will remain in tact, but we decided much of the superfluous, flowery digressions had to go. Two, we wanted to maintain the original rhyme scheme to the best of our ability. And three, we wanted it to be appropriate. This involved cutting some lines we felt would be “awkward” to explain. As a result Helena’s Spaniel piece has been nicked. Oliver and I managed to bring Act II down to ten full pages, which we are happy with for the moment. We may continue to edit once we do a read through with our lovely Youth Life kids. We also may try to tie in some current pop culture, and at the suggestion of Dr. Bezio, let the kids replace the fairy song with a song of their choice. I’m excited for what is to come and will be meeting with our site advisor and having our first practice!
This past week my partner, Lydia, and I worked on cutting Act II of Midsummer Night’s Dream for the purpose of making the act quicker and more readable for the children of the Youth Life program. We are looking forward to meeting the kids and getting to know their personalities a bit before casting them in their respective roles. Hopefully we will have approximately 8 kids because there are 8 actors within our act, but if we have more than we can always cast them as fairies.
The premise of our act is based around the love flower and the trick that Oberon and Puck play on Titania and the Athenian youths. I’m specifically looking forward to seeing how excited the kids may be to jump into their roles. Also, I’m interested to see how well the kids will grasp the various themes.