After the fun of last week's auditions, our teaching artists had a hard job assigning final scenes to our entire ensemble. Everyone got at least one of the roles they auditioned for, and at least 3 roles total, so they'll be able to show off their acting range and versatility, and everyone will get a chance to be "the star" of a scene. During this week's classes, we started working on the elements of staging these scenes and getting into a few of our final characters. Read on to learn more:
Monday Recap (by Katie Yohe)
Dance Party kicked off with a little Selena Gomez and Beyonce to get us all moving and grooving. Colleen, as always, loved showing off her best moves! Then it was time to circle up and Ariel led us in a sound-and-movement Warm Up where we put different sounds and big poses together. It got us using our bodies and our voices, and also got us ready for dropping in later in the class.
Katie ran through the schedule for the day and we checked in with the question "Have you ever pranked someone or have they pranked you?" We shared our best April Fool's practical jokes, some of which would have put Sir Toby Belch to shame. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no one wanted to admit if THEY were the victim of a prank.
Next up, Lawrence led and ensemble focus game called Count Off. For this game we have to try to count from 1 to 10 but only one person can speak at a time. If anyone talks over each other or repeats a number we have to go back to the beginning. We circled up close and held hands to try to focus. It's also funny that the more serious the group got about counting, the quieter our voices got until we were just whispering. We tried several times, and finally made it to ten! We'll keep working on our eye contact and give and take to make this game even better.
Then we played a big round of Stage Manager Says! This game helps us review our stage directions and also move quickly and follow directions. "All the boys upstage! All the girls centerstage! Everyone wearing glasses stage left! Everyone with laces on their shoes stage right!" This show is different than our previous shows because we'll be performing on a THRUST stage. Usually we're on a PROSCENIUM stage where the audience is right infront of us, but at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, like all the theatres of Shakespeare's day, the audience wraps around 3 sides of the stage. Our stage directions (upstage, downstage, stage right, stage left) are still basically the same, but it's still good to practice getting used to the spacing!
Our team has a big job - we've been given the final scene. This is tricky because 1) we have to clearly tell the story of what happens to all of these characters in the end 2) EVERY character is onstage at the same time! Keep in mind, the way we work, each actor has a teaching artist or facilitator to drop in their lines, so if there are 5 characters onstage, there are really 10 bodies. This requires a lot of blocking and coordination between all of our actors and facilitators, so we started with this scene today to get familiar with it and learn who is who! Everyone did a great job - especially Sam and Claire as Orsino and Viola who are onstage for the whole 6 page scene without a break! In the weeks to come, we'll finesse the blocking and continue to build on what we started with today.
The last scene goes right into our finale so we took the chance to practice our music and choreography for "Hey-Ho The Wind and the Rain". We even had enough time to sing through the chorus for "Sweet Viola" and made up some of our own choreography (Andrew came up with something that we might wind up keeping).
After a quick check in, Claire led us through "I Take From the Heavens" and we were off for Spring Break Part 2!
Friday Recap (by Lawrence Kern)
We started class off with a rocking Dance Party. Sam Petri showed us his “Dance Boxing” skills to Michael Jackson’s "Beat It". We followed that up with a warm up followed by out check in question of “What is your favorite emotion to act out on stage”? It seemed to be pretty evenly split between being in love/happy and being angry, although Quincy through in the wild card answer of being mischievous.
The class then did a quick few rounds of Zip Zap Zop before moving on to Advanced Model & Clay. This exercise is just like regular model and clay except you have TWO people as models and TWO people as clay. And our models posed as something we would see in Twelfth Night. We had models getting married, dueling, partying, and even models in a shipwreck! Facilitator Sean and Alena were exceptional models pretending to be dueling and Quincy really nailed it as the sculptor, turning our clay (Sam Petri and Susan) into copies.
For the final two sections of class we worked all the choreography and music of Hey Ho and then began work out our scene tableaus. Each group had to create 3 tableaus for one for one of the scenes they are acting in. Highlights were Marissa (Antonio) breaking up Emily K (Aguecheek) and Susan (Viola/Cesario) from boxing while Sam P. (Toby Belch) eggs them on, and Quincy(Toby Blech) Lucas (Aguecheek) and Natalia (Maria) plotting to trick Samuel F. (Malvolio).
We had enough time left in class to run through the chorus of Sweet Sweet Viola before ending class with I Take from the Heavens. We did scenes, and both our songs all in one class and we rocked it all!