Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

One Week in Haiti: Days 3 & 4

~ by Emily Marquet
(previous entries on this adventure are on the blog! Click for DAY 1 and DAY 2!)

Day 3 & 4: Sassy Fairies & Clowning

Wednesday’s goal was to block the second half of the play. We nearly succeeded. Some scenes took longer than others to block and some characters (like Puck and Oberon) seem to be in pretty much every scene in the forest. Therefore, those actors were in high demand and some scenes had to wait until Thursday to finish.

It seems high school students are high school students the whole world over and similar fear, frustrations and joys came from working with teenagers. I could tell the actors really did not want to make fools out of themselves in front of their peers- who does? This led to some interesting character choices, especially on the part of our fairies, who decided Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed were not just loyal, doting fairies to Titania but were actually very sassy, smart-alecs who deeply questioned their queen’s sanity when she falls in love with an ass.

Wednesday night we blocked the infamous Pyramus and Thisbe play-within-a-play. Elle and I facilitated a clowning exercise to get the actors into the headspace of our dear, clueless mechanicals. I could tell that the actors were not afraid to be total hams and very excited to perform outrageously for their peers.

On Thursday we finished blocking the play and attempted a cue-to-cue, a term familiar and feared by a lot of theatre artists. We had worked on our scenes individually and now it was time to piece the whole play together. This was a tedious process, to be sure, but definitely a necessary step.

Thursday night was actually Thanksgiving. It is a big celebration on the LCS campus and the volunteer teachers cook a fantastic, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Elle and I ate the fastest turkey dinner ever and scooted back over to the main campus in order to perform our first…and last….final dress rehearsal!!

The actors were costumed in all black with simple, key pieces added on, playing to the idea that you can put on theatre very simply and have it be very effective. The actors LOVED their costumes. It was amazing to watch Helena and Hermia transform a simple piece of clothe into very intricate and beautiful sarong dresses.

The final dress was a little hectic- as to be expected- it was the first time we’d ever run the play.  Unbeknownst to the actors and Elle and I, we developed quite an audience, including Patrick Moynihan. After our final dress he approached us and asked if the cast could perform the show twice the following day. Once at 8:30 am (!!) and the other at the original scheduled time- 10 am. Elle and I exchanged glances. We had been hoping for one last run-thru or at least an opportunity to give notes. But, as we were reminded by Theseus’ first line, we needed to jump on the chance to perform as many times as we could… tomorrow was the big day!

Emily Marquet is currently an intern with Folger’s Education and Public Programs divisions. She has worked with the American Shakespeare Center as a Camp Counselor and Assistant Director, and is a recent graduate of NYU with a Fine Arts major in Drama and minor in Social and Cultural Analysis. For the finale of her experiences in Haiti, check back on this blog on March 29!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)