Notes from the Forest: And we’re off!

Teaching artist Emma MacLean takes you behind the scenes for our teen ensembles’ spring production, As You Like It!

This past week we had our orientation sessions on Friday 2/22 and Monday 2/25! The semester has officially begun! We hit the ground running with warm ups, games, paperwork and a brief-ish retelling of As You Like It.


Our first class of the semester was on a Friday, which feels fitting. As You Like It is a silly mixed up play, and so we have a silly mixed up schedule. Ensemble orientations bring our entire teaching team and all of our actors' families together to get on the same page for the semester ahead. Between our Monday and Friday ensembles, we have 20 actors and 20 facilitators along with teaching artists Sean, Kaylie and myself. Some actors and families have been with A.B.L.E. since the very beginning way back in 2010 and we have some facilitators (Hi Arin, Chelsea and Mary!) and actors (Hi Sandia!) who are just starting on their first production. During our check in we got to know each other a little bit better.


Our check in question was: “when was a time you had to move? Where did you go? Why?” Almost everyone in both the Friday and Monday ensembles had moved at some point. The winner for most moves was facilitator Nate, who has moved 6 times! (I think… I might have lost count.) Many characters in As You Like It have to move: Duke Senior, Rosalind, Celia, Touchstone, Orlando, Adam, and Oliver. They each learn to make their own space in the forest.

My personal favorite part of the orientation was the super-short super silly run through. Our parents, actors, and facilitators got to put on costumes and make tableaux from moments in the play. (A tableau is a frozen stage picture.) We managed to meet all 14 characters and learn a bit more about how they related to one another. This will help everyone as we get deeper into rehearsals, and will especially help parents as they work with their actors at home. And also we got to wear hats and capes, who doesn’t love that?

A peek at our character posters and some of our signature costume pieces for As You Like It!

A peek at our character posters and some of our signature costume pieces for As You Like It!

Classes start in earnest TONIGHT! I can’t wait to see what wonderful moments this semester will bring. Whatever we discover, I’ll be sure to share next week.

Stay tuned for more Notes from the Forest and click here to get caught up with the series.