May 8, 2012

We began with our usual warm ups. Then we decided to begin monologue work rather than play a game because we were a little short on time due to some late arrivals. The first person to go was new last week, but had already chosen a monologue – Emilia’s from Othello. She gave a solid reading that showed her intellectual understanding of the piece, but there was very little in the way of attitude or emotion. We talked about what Emilia’s objective is in this piece, and how she was combining humor with sexiness and anger. The second and third reads were stronger.

The second to work has been exploring Othello’s monologue. She said she’d been working on it and that her bunk mate thought she was crazy due to her discoveries about the piece – specifically Othello’s “craziness.” She began her piece, and out of NOWHERE came this very intense power and volume. She swung her weapon around, she despaired about her fate, she lamented over Desdemona’s body. It was amazing. Everyone cheered and vocalized how surprised and pleased they were. She seemed happy as well. Her second and third performances were even better. I am so proud of her. Everyone is.

Next was the participant working on Phebe’s monologue from As You Like It. Her read was a little lackluster because she is still trying to find the conflicting emotions in the piece, as well as the humor. We did an exercise in which she walked to the right when praising Rosalind, and to the left when criticizing her. After awhile she said she was dizzy and decided to stop. But when she read the piece again, those disparities were definitely there, although they still could use some development.

Then the other participant working on Emilia’s monologue took the stage. This is the woman with a learning disability, but after her first read we all remarked on how far she’s come – she’s stumbling over words significantly less, and the acting is beginning to take off. I love watching her react to everyone’s encouragement. I can tell it means a lot to her and gives her confidence. Every time she performs this piece it gets better, and today was no exception.

Then the woman working on “All the world’s a stage…” took her turn. She had an interpretation of the piece in which she “acted out” each of the stages of life, and she added her own dialogue to the text. For instance, when she got to “And then the lover, sighing like a furnace…” she interrupted her self with, “Hey girl, what you doin’”? She did similar things throughout the piece, and it was hilarious. The piece is great. I love what she is doing with it – making it her own.

Next was one of the women who is working on Antony’s monologue from Julius Caesar. She found herself frustrated by her inability to be forceful. A few of us gathered around the stage to be a shouting crowd so that she would have to fight to be heard and understood, which worked very well until she kept losing her place on the page and stumbling over words. Eventually she was so frustrated she decided to just leave it for today. We encouraged her to memorize the piece so that she won’t have to worry about losing her place.

The last to go was the one working on Hermione’s monologue from The Winter’s Tale. She performed the piece with a lot of anger and force, which is appropriate, but she said that she wanted to explore other ways of expressing herself in the piece. She wanted to know if sadness could take the place of anger in some spots. I told her she was absolutely right, and we went through the piece to find which emotion occurs in which part. She performed again, and it was beautiful. Her third time was even better. Now she wants to memorize it to do even more with it.

I was approached after class by a participant who hadn’t been there that day. She said that she is now in another group Tuesdays and Fridays – a group to help her make the transition to going home. Of course we will miss her, but it is great news that she is being released.

I also spoke with the Deputy after the session and asked her what she thought about making the program continuous rather than having an ending date. She said that that is absolutely fine. I am so excited to tell the women.