Shakespeare Summer Club: Projects Week One


He, he!  Thanks for all your suggestions on Saturday’s post.  I’ll be showing it in all it’s forest glade glory during the week, but you were all right (well apart from B13 and Lorna the nutter….).  It is in deed a tree.  I spend waaaay too much time cutting them out and have blisters to show for my efforts.  They will be dressed and made to look more tree-like for our performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It is in four days time.  Heeeelllpppp!!!

As part of the children’s Shakespeare Summer Club, they would be completing a project, using each afternoon to work on it.  The project was to put on a multimedia performance of the entire Midsummer Night’s Dream.  During the first week, I prepared discussion topics for everyone to cover which made them think about the project as a whole.  Today I am simply including my notes and the ideas the children came up with.

Day One

Mixed Media Play:

It will be mandatory to do one act as is (traditional using Shakespeare’s original words), with music (Mendelssohn), scenery and costumes.  You need to choose what you would like to do for the other four scenes.  I suggest you choose a mixture of easy and hard; and scenes you can video and one’s to do on actual day:

  • Traditional play form
  • Mime
  • Rap
  • In modern day Rhyme
  • Make an audio of the act with sound effects and music to create mood
  • Futuristic performance with new linked names so we still know who each person is but set in future Puckoid….etc
  • Rewrite act for readers theater for audience participation
  • Rewrite as readers theater for you to do
  • Do one set to music ie west side story or glee style using modern songs which are fairly/ loosely appropriate for the story line
  • Video of a modern day take on the scene
  • Rewriting one of the acts as a diary entry
  • Improvisation activity – choose one of the ones you will use over next five weeks
  • Text/ face book status it
  • unrehearsed ad lib – act without script but with prompts – must know act back to front to pull this off
  • Puppet theater

For now just choose the four further mediums.  You do not need to attach them to an act yet.  We will do that on Friday, once we have gone through the whole play.

To think about: 

  • One person needs to be in over all charge.  I suggest either B(13) or (T13) simply because it will give them good leadership practice
  • However, there are five acts.  Do you want to take control of one act each, although everyone will help, you will be in charge? or do you all want to work as a team? or do you want to do a mixture of these things? – For example B and T work well together, maybe they would like to take two acts and do them between them- they could chose the hardest (probably original play) and easiest (improvisation by audience)

The Children’s Thoughts

The children all decided it would be better if Lorna and I had overall control, rather than one of the boys.  They all wanted to take control of one act themselves.  B13 and T13 chose to work with each other, whilst the girls wanted to work independently on an act each.

For more information about the acts I wrote a detailed post here.

Day Two

How will you connect the five scenes given they will be done in different media/ genre?  Will you narrate between them, explaining what the audience are about to experience? Will you maybe make a program which explains everything?  Other ideas?

  • Name Yourselves

You need to have a name for yourselves as an acting group, one which will reflect the stuff you do (Shakespeare/ unusual mixed media plays).  For example The London Players.  I will happily add your name to your t-shirts.

  • Costumes

Write a list of all the characters in Midsummer and go through all our dress up.  This will give you an idea of what you have and what you might need to make or source.  Your budget is practically nothing for this study so you will all have to be very creative in how you approach this.  Can you raise funds or can you ‘earn’ money from charity shops by taking in a bag of things to sell?  Any ways to get things for free??? Sell tickets to friends and family? – if you do this decide where any extra money might go ie charity.  Sarah’s mum, Judith, has offered to help.  Is there anything she could make?

The Children’s Thoughts

It was decided the children would narrate between the scenes to link them but also create a program so the guests would know what to expect in advance.  They called themselves ‘The Surrey Shakespearean Stragglers’.  Having gone through all the dressing up the children felt it was probably adequate but they would begin to fill up the charity shop bags in anticipation of any needs which cropped up at a later date.

Day Three

  • Parts

How are you going to decide which parts everyone will take?  Will there be auditions?  Who will have the final say?  You will need a panel of people so choices are not personal – could you use parents?  There will be lots of parts.  Will you leave out some of the play in order to simplify it?  And possibly use a narrator?  Are you going to have a date by which the actors must know their words?

  • Rehearsal Space

This will be anywhere and everywhere.

  • Performance Space/Set

You will be performing in our dining area.  We will be moving our table and chairs next door so that whole area is free.  How can we make this space look more like a stage?  Do you need a set?  How will you make it, who will make it and how will you pay for or find what it’s made of?  Will you need interchangeable ones – for example usually reader’s theater requires nothing but the readers and the script.  The main set should be the one you do with original play.  I have some huge blank card which might do as scenery, which you can decorate.  Who will be in charge, if anyone?  Or are you in charge of the scenery for the act you are already in charge of?

  • Completing Acts

One of your Acts will be Shakespeare’s original which just needs to be photocopied and highlighted (or save work and simply use the book provided).  You will need to work on having another Act finished (for example, if you are using a Reader’s theater it will need to be photocopied and highlighted)  This is where choosing hard and easy acts will pay off, as all five Acts need to be completed by the end of this week/beginning of next.

The Children’s Thoughts

It was agreed that the person who was in charge of the act would choose whether or not the actors needed to audition.  Either way, they had complete control over which person played each character.  And everyone agreed to be enthusiastic over their parts no matter what.  The main scenery would be the forest and the huge card board would be used.  Scenery would be a collaborative effort between everyone, including Lorna and myself.

Day Four

  • Dates

What date will the play be on?  When will you have the dress rehearsal?

  • Interval

We will aim for the entire performance to last an hour.  Do you want to have an interval mid way through?  If so will you serve refreshments?  Who will be in charge of that?

  • Dress rehearsal

Do at least one of these. It is when everything is exactly as if there is an audience but no one is watching.  If there are any mistakes, or actors forget their lines, the show must keep going just as it would if there was an audience. Don’t stop for technical problems etc.  You should have an interval of the same length as it will be in the real thing (If you’re having one).  Do the curtain call etc exactly as it will be.  This is a chance for everyone to run the whole show through before an audience is there

The Children’s Thoughts

It was agreed the performance would be held on the 27th August, late afternoon.  The dress rehearsal would be held a couple of days beforehand.  They decided to have a short interval after the third act.  Refreshments would be served, which K11 would be in charge of.

Day Five

  • Ending a play

Will you have an after party? Need to thank everyone – will need a speaker at the end of play to give thanks and notify about any after party/ celebrations

  • Acts to write

This week you need to focus on getting your alternative acts written (traditional one won’t need to be written, also reader’s theater won’t need to be written).  Work together to get them written by Monday at the latest.

The Children’s Thoughts

Everyone wanted an after party, although I suggested we had an after-Shakespeare Summer party in September after we had completed the study entirely.  We would all organise this, just for fun!

We thought we would ask either Gary or Andrew (B and K’s Dad) to do the thank you’s to everyone who came and helped in any way.

Work began immediately for each child to write their act out, exactly how they wanted it.  We set a dead line for the next Monday, knowing it was a steep ask, but hoping it might give a push in the right direction….

Tomorrow I will share all the work we did in the second week towards the projects.



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