April 24, 2012

We did our usual physical and vocal warm ups. Then we played one game to increase our physical energy, and another game designed to increase focus and quick thinking. We also played a new improv game, at which they excelled. The participant performing Rosalind’s monologue went first today. She had lost her script, so we had to go back over when in the monologue the character is speaking to the shepherdess, when she is speaking to the shepherd, and when she has an aside. This participant is still being way too nice with this monologue, and we all encouraged her to be more nasty with her insults. She wound up getting right up in the participant’s face who was “playing” the shepherdess. She is showing improvement, but is still stumbling over a lot of the words, which we discussed means she needs to work the piece more on her own.

Then the participant performing Othello performed. This time, she had not lost the power she found last week, which is very encouraging. We discussed again when she gets rid of her weapon, and when she touches dead Desdemona. She is beginning to clearly delineate between when Othello is talking to the others in the room, when to Desdemona, and when to the “devils” who will torment Othello after his death. Her passion increases each time she performs, and she is becoming more comfortable with the mourning emotions at the end of the piece.

Then the prisoner performing Emilia took the stage. She is still stumbling over her words quite a bit, but she gets better every time she performs. I asked her if she could make the piece more sexy, which she was somewhat able to do, although she lost that feeling when she got to the language that is still tripping her up. The next time, I asked her to try to make Desdemona laugh with the monologue. It really took flight, more so than the time before, and she commented that she likes that approach. We all encouraged her to keep practicing the piece on her own to get more comfortable with the language. I absolutely love how supportive the group is of her. She gains confidence and comfort every session.

Next was the prisoner who is performing the King’s monologue from Hamlet. Her first reading was very casual and lacked passion, so we talked about it. She said that she is having a difficult time accessing the emotion in the piece because she’s never been THAT guilty about something and has certainly never murdered her brother. I told her that a tool she could use would be to recall a time when she felt guilt of any kind, and to call up that memory and amplify it to get more into her character. She performed again, and about halfway through she really “fell in” to the piece. She became passionate and clearly frustrated by the character’s inability to pray and be forgiven. It was a remarkable improvement.

Then the participant performing Hermione’s monologue took the stage. She did her monologue sitting down and gave a very honest reading, although it lacked passion. We decided that the piece worked better when she was standing up and leaning on the back of a chair, so she decided to do it that way. I then asked her to lash out more with her anger at her situation, especially at the end when she calls on the jury to believe her over her husband. She fully committed to the emotion and gave a very powerful reading. She then said that she felt good about the anger but felt that she was being too physical for how weak her character is. I asked her to remember a time when she felt anger and couldn’t express it, and how tense her whole body became at that time. She then performed the piece with that in mind, and it improved again. She is really loosening up and gaining confidence, and she is proving herself to be a powerful actress on top of that.

Another participant declined to perform because she wants a more comedic monologue than any I have provided. I will be looking for one to give her next week, and hopefully she’ll like what I bring in.

We had one new participant today who was very positive throughout the session. I asked her at the end if she wanted to continue to come, and she said that she did. I will be bringing monologues for her next week so that she can join us in that work.

Everyone continues to loosen up and become more comfortable with the group. They are growing individually and together, and it is a privilege to be a part of this process.