Notes from the Forest: Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals!

Every week, A.B.L.E. teaching artist Emma MacLean takes you behind the scenes for our teen ensembles’ spring production, As You Like It. Click here to catch up on our past installments, and read on to find out about Week 8 of rehearsals.

It has been a busy week! We had rehearsals on Monday and Friday and also a facilitator rehearsal on Sunday. We are less than a month away from the show, so it is time to get busy.

Blocking a show in a matter of weeks is no small undertaking, but the actors have totally risen to the challenge. In rehearsals, we have been breaking off into small groups to talk through what each scene is about, think about how our characters are feeling, and developing a tableaux for the beginning, middle and end of the scene. Then we all come back together and work through the scene with lines.

On Friday, we worked on scenes 5, 6 and 9. Scene 5 marks Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone’s arrival into the forest of Arden. They are exhausted but enchanted by the forest puppets and trees that surround them. In our rehearsal room at Menomenee, I can feel the seeds of this magical forest take root.

The Monday ensemble worked through scenes 7, 8 and 10. It is so fun to watch these characters come to life. There’s the bossy Phebe (Colleen), the playful Rosalind (Hannah), the lovesick Silvius (Christian), the wise old Corin (Peter) and so many more. Because we are performing on a thrust stage, we spent a lot of time on Monday practicing turning out to the audience and delivering lines to everyone in the room. Our theatre space is truly magnificent and we want to make sure that all the audience can see our fantastic actors.

On Sunday, we had a stumble through with all the facilitators onstage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It was fun to get the facilitators from both ensembles together in one place. Although I get to see everyone all semester, our facilitators rotate in and out of classes each week so don’t often have a chance to work together. Many members of the Monday facilitation team had never met the Friday team. After introductions and some general notes (over pizza), we put our team to work and ran the whole show! We had costume changes, puppets, and Peter Van Kempen (who will be our narrator and play accompaniment for the show) gave us a taste of what the music will be like.

I am most excited to have all of our facilitators in the room with all of our actors. And soon they will be! Weeks 9 and 10 we’ll have everyone at rehearsal. It will be great for the actors to start working closely with their partner facilitator and character work will continue to deepen. The show will be here before we know it!

Join us May 20th at 7pm in The Courtyard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Tickets are going fast - book yours soon!