After several weeks creating the elements of our stories, learning about blocking and stage directions, and building our ensembles, everything came together this week in class as we FINALLY staged our completed scenes for the first time. Here's what we did!
Kaylie was our Dance Party DJ and helped us kick off the night with some great tunes. “Uptown Funk,” was, as always, a big hit. We also jammed to “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “Best Song Ever”. Dance Party finished with an old favorite - “We’re All in this Together” from High School Musical. That song is a big throwback to some of our earliest days when we were still with GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago. Check out this video from 2011 – my how we’ve grown since then!
Lindsay led this week’s warm up. She focused on gentle breathing and stretching to help us feel centered and calm. We did a series of Butterfly stretches on the floor. We pretended to fly right, left, low and high. So many of our actors are involved in dance, cheerleading, or gymnastics that they took to this right away. But some of our facilitators need to add this series to their regular routines – us old folks are tight!
Katie ran down the schedule for the day with everyone. Looking at the schedule, it didn’t seem like we had a lot to do, but this was a big day since this was the first time we ran through our finished scripts! Each scene is about 10-15minutes long so getting through them would take a majority of the class time. We reviewed our ensemble rules (which are also the rules of being a good audience) and split into Lemons and Limes to get to work!
We brought back this fun game which requires us to listen, focus, and work as an ensemble. Some actors got creative – when it was Claire’s turn to point to someone, instead of alligator or elephant she shouted “KANGAROO!” Jack, similarly inspired shouted “CHEETAH!” Of course, as a good ensemble, the people in the circle played along and tried to come up with the best picture they could for these surprise animals.
Stumble Through Scenes
In the theatre world, a stumble through is the first time actors go through a script from start to finish. You don’t worry about blocking or getting lines perfect, you just kind of see what happens. Stumble-throughs can be challenging for even for the most professional actors. You never quite know what to expect. These are long scenes (in past shows, our actors are only onstage for 2-5 minutes at a time), so they require a lot more focus from the performers and the audience as well. Second, we have many new facilitators with us this semester (hopefully you’re checking out our Friday blogs to meet them all!), and this was the first time dropping in scenes for many of them. Everyone, teaching staff and actors alike, had to be adaptable and make bold choices! Here are some photos from the Banapples running their story: "SlamDANCE Superheroes!"
Everyone pulled through and did great work; it was so much fun to finally see the full scenes on their feet, and for every actor to dive into the characters they’ve been working on throughout the semester. Kendra, Peter, Lawrence, and Katie got some ideas for ways to make their scripts even better. Next week, we’ll spend a little more time setting blocking, start adding costumes, and make any necessary changes to the scripts before our final run through on December 4th.
Monologue and Music Rehearsal
For the last piece of our small group sections, Peter taught the verses for our mash up. We all sing the first big verse together, but the Lemons and the Limes each get an additional verse to sing all on their own. Most of us already know the lyrics for "Firework" so it was just a matter learning when to stay quiet and when to belt it out! The Lemons worked on music first, and then switched with the Limes.
When they weren't working on music, actors added the final statements to their personal monologues. We've already talked about "I AM", "I WANT", and "I LOVE". This week, actors got to complete the sentence "I CAN" - everyone shared something they are awesome at doing or a character trait that sets them apart. We have awesome readers, gymnasts, musicians, and friends!
Lemon/Lime Sing Off
We ran through THE WHOLE SONG altogether for the very first time. We did choreography for the parts we know, we made up some moves on our own, and everyone did an amazing job piecing it together. This is a longer song than many others we’ve tried, but everyone is having so much fun with it.
We talked about plans for next week, wished happy birthday to Eva and Ben and they led us in our traditional call-and-response closing…
“I Take From the Heavens…”
But the fun didn’t stop there. Once we finished with class, everyone met in the Program Room for snacks to celebrate Ben’s 19th birthday! It was so fun to socialize and hang out with our community. Many of our actors have known each other since they were infants; our families are a community with many common threads, and it’s always special when we can have everyone together.