Just thought I’d write to say I’m up and runnin’ and figured it out!

But today we finished cutting Act 5 and have our script. Yesterday we met with our groups for the first time. We had a lady and 2 gentlemen. They were fabulous! We played an ice breaker game (the one we played in class but no with characters, with emotions and random occurrences in life)

That was super fun; they were totally into it and got into character! Then for the remaining time we basically just gave a broad overview of the whole play. Some of them new it well, some kind, and some not at all. So we gave them the Shakespeare scoop. But overall, successful first meeting and excited we’ll have the scripts for next meeting!

Take 2…  In stead of CHAT our group will now be working with OSHER, a program that was founded 2004 by the School of Professions and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond.  The goal of this organization is to provide learning opportunities to retired individuals through classes, community outreach, small groups and much more.  We will have a group of roughly five individuals working with us this semester to put on act five of A Midsummers Night’s Dream.  This week we met in Jepson and following introductions played an ice breaker game we learned in class.  We made two piles of cards, one with emotions and one with situations, and took turns choosing a card from each pile and acting out the scenes as the emotion card proscribed.  It was a fun way to initially connect with our group and get the creative juices flowing.  We then went quickly over the plot as one of the members of the group has not read the play. Today in class, much to the chagrin one of our group members who came to our first meeting The Complete works of Shakespeare in hand, we finished cutting our scene and will have it printed for our next session.  We have a fun, animated and enthusiastic group which should make this process all the more enjoyable!

This week we found out that we will be working with St. Joseph’s middle school and high school students. Kieran, Benjamin, and I have been working to cut down the play to a manageable length in preparation for next week. We have determined that we will be working with our students every Thursday from 1:45-3 starting next week. We are looking forward to meeting our approximately 10 students so that we can hopefully get a better sense of their individual personalities to cast roles. We don’t plan to begin reading Midsummer next week, instead we are going to take a look at the space and meet our students.

We found out this week that we would not be working with CHAT anymore, but rather with OSHER. This means that instead of working with kids we will be working with older humans who will be able to drive themselves to our meetings. I am extremely excited to work with all of them because I am sure they will all have plenty of stories to tell and will be able to share their experiences through acting during our time together. It will definitely be a different experience than what I was initially expecting, but I am looking forward to it. Since we have a lower amount of people though,  I will probably have to act in the play. At first I didn’t know how I felt about it, but the more I think about it the more excited I am about it. I am looking forward to a great experience!

For the Jepson Shakespeare Project, Devani, Mel and I will be working with a group of students from Higher Achievement and will be performing Act 1 of the play. As the opening act of the production, we realize it is important how we set the tone of the rest of the play and as far as editing our play, it is crucial that we don’t cut major parts that will be referred to again later on in the play. When we were editing Act 1, we focused on cutting the nonessential lines and keeping the main ones that give the overall gist of what’s happening. We also tried to keep lines that would be easier for the kids to interpret as they are reading out their lines. The more condensed and clear their lines all, we feel the more fun they will have acting them out on stage. While I am excited to work with the kids, I am nervous to see how everything goes! It will definitely be a challenge to make them excited about reading Shakespeare. I am hoping we incorporate a lot of the theater games we have been discussing in class to make things more fun. Then we can take the time to walk them through the language in the play. After making the initial round of cuts for our play, we read it aloud and it was a little under 15 minutes. Since each act is typically around 20 minutes, we’re leaving this wiggle room for more possible edits and also to see how long it will take when the kids are reading the lines.

After finishing reading the play and watching the movie version, I’m so excited to start working with these kids! Melissa, Kit, and I will be working with Higher Achievement on Act 1. We have emailed the coordinators about a time to introduce the elective to the kids, but we have not finalized a date yet. Hopefully we will be working with them by next week! We have cut our Act down significantly by taking out lines that were wordy, unimportant, or we knew the children would not enjoy acting out. When we read it through as a group it was a little over 10 minutes, but we may have to cut the script down more when the children start actually performing it. We kept a lot of the funnier lines that are at the end of the Act because we thought the children would especially enjoy them. My hope for this project is to actually help the children better understand literature, drama, and the essence behind Shakespeare’s play. While I don’t know too much about theater, I really hope that this experience will help me (and the children) learn more about the history and theater of Shakespeare. In the past I’ve worked with Youth Life as a mentor and tutor in an academic setting, so I’m excited to broaden my experiences outside the classroom in a different type of environment!

We are act 1 for the play. We have considerably chopped down our act of the play. We have read through the lines in our act and it was about 12 minutes long running through without any stage acting or having children read through. We feel this is a good starting point for us since the students will have to learn to read the lines and include any onstage activity. We tried to keep the more important or famous parts of the play and exclude the parts we thought the kids wouldn’t need or understand.

We plan on trying to sell our elective this coming Friday. We have some concerns that the students may not be as interested as we would like but we will try our best to encourage them to try acting in the play. Hopefully they will learn more academically as well as socially from their experience. By next week we should have more concrete information on the interests of the students and how we feel the act will come along.

Tomorrow is the very first day Allison, Taylor, and I will head over to meet with our gang of future fairies (and Athenians) at John Marshall High School, and I have to admit that I am a bit intimidated. There are two questions floating around in my head that are at the root of my nerves of the journey tomorrow:

  1. Will our age proximity to the high schoolers result in them respecting us less (because we could easily be their older siblings) or more, because of the chance that they mistake us for cool, older, wiser college kids?
  2. We have no idea whether the children we are working with have chosen to take part in this project, or are being forced into it as a school assignment/after school project. I think it will make a big difference whether or not this is a self-selected group with some enthusiasm, or a group that will be bored out of their minds before we can even rope them in with the Bottom’s booty jokes.


As for our script, our team has a pretty unique Act to wrangle in. Act IV involves every single character from the play, includes the climax, but is the shortest act. After multiple read-throughs, our approach has been to cut the second scene and focus on the first part of the Act, whole shortening some of the longer speeches. We have decided to strengthen the female roles by giving Hippolyta power over Theseus’s final decision through our staging, and by making Hermia and Helena the victors of the love pairing, rather than the men being the victors over them.


Tomorrow, I hope to give the kids a solid explanation of our planning and find innovative ways to keep them (or convince them to be) excited about the project.

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 week in S&S, Molly, Allison and I began to discuss our ideas for Act 4 of Midsummer. Molly and I timed ourselves reading Act 4 and figured out how many kids we would need to cover the number of characters who are present (all of them). As a group, we discussed which lines could be cut or merged together. We also started brainstorming prop ideas.

Allison emailed our site contacts, Laura and Verenda, to see if there is a good time to meet with the kids at John Marshall High this coming Monday before we get started with rehearsals. We are still waiting to see if this will be possible due to the bike race in Richmond.