* Apologies to anyone using Google Reader, I deleted a draft of this post but Google Reader published it anyway so you may be getting a repeat here.
Today was the first time we ran the entire play with music, costumes and a full cast. I'm pretty pleased with the results. The Upper Elementary students we pulled in this week to learn the non speaking fairy roles are great. The set pieces all came together, and we've transformed the gym into a woodland wonderland. I stayed late today to hang all the lights myself and to do the wiring for our ancient lighting board.
One of my favorite parts in the show is when Pyramus and Thisby die in the play within a play. Originally, just having gotten off of Gorefest, I promised the kids we could use blood packs for comedic effect. Realizing the floor of the gym was just redone, I later took it back but explained why red ribbons have the potential to be even funnier. They got it right away and watching P and T dramatically die with their red ribbons (Pyramus' forgotten in his pocket until he drags on his death too long and Quince has to enter and remind him to draw it; and Thisby's tucked inside the actor's mouth) kills me every time. (Hopefully their parents have a similar sense of humor.) Meanwhile, because I talked up the blood packs so much the Adolescents have now taken a keen interest in Gorefest and during downtime ask questions like "but what was the poop made of?" and "Can we audition next year?"
Everyone has grown completely into his or her role, and as hoped, the students have taken a lot of ownership over the show. They have ad libbed lines (yes it's Shakespeare, but we decided from the beginning that nothing was sacred), and added details to the show that make it their production as opposed to some cookie cutter junior high shakespeare pageant. I tried to showcase some of their other talents as well. For example, we have a piano covered in vines on stage for the whole show and the actress playing Egeus also plays a Fairy-type wizardly presence who provides music and seems to charm the audience to sleep and then rouses them when the night is through. One of the students has been filming rehearsals and told me he is preparing to make a DVD of the show with behind the scenes bonus features. He's twelve.
Bottom line is that these kids are all amazing. They have worked really, really hard over the past two months. I only see them twice a week and usually only in their own classroom. Over the past two weeks however, we have built a set and they have mastered the volume needed in Thacher's polished wooden gym. They look great in their costumes and they have every comedic moment in the show down pat, with room for vamping. The show goes up tomorrow and they are absolutely ready for it. So ready that I wish we had a longer run. Maybe we can take it on the road.
I've been extra tired without my normal days off from work, but it's all worth it. The show is going to be wonderful. These kids and their families have a lot to be proud of.