May 11, 2012

After the usual warm ups, the participants opted to go right into their monologues rather than play a game. We did end up playing a very fun and energetic game designed to take away inhibitions and be comfortable with the ensemble. Everyone really enjoyed it. But, before that, we worked on monologues.

The first participant to perform is working on “What a piece of work is a man…” She keeps going deeper and deeper into the piece, and it’s wonderful. For her second read, she asked if she could have another person on stage with her to talk to. She was still looking up or at the ground most of the time, so I encouraged her to make eye contact and really ask for help with these words. That time the piece improved immensely. It’s evident that she really connects with it. She’s doing so well.

The second participant to perform is working on Antony’s monologue from Julius Caesar. She was still frustrated, as on Tuesday, about her stumbling over words. She asked if she could take the attention off of her focus point and focus on reading so that she wouldn’t stumble. That worked very well for her. She didn’t lose any of her power and even improved once she didn’t have to worry about the language. She knows it very well at this point. Once she’s memorized we should be able to do some really solid work on the piece.

Then our “Jaques” performed. She had lost some of the goofiness she showed us on Tuesday, so we encouraged her to find it again. She needs to work on being consistent with her character throughout the piece. We talked about some of the language that she didn’t quite understand, and then her reading became much stronger – and more silly, which is exactly what she is going for. She’s doing so well. I’m really glad that she was able to join the program.

Then one of the participants working on Emilia volunteered to go even though she was not feeling well. Given that she wasn’t feeling her best, she gave a very strong read. She improves every time, which is exactly what should be happening. She’s even about half memorized at this point, and where she remembers the lines she does not stumble over the words. She is becoming more playful with the piece as well. And she seemed to feel better by the time she sat down again.

Next was the participant who is working on Phebe’s monologue from As You Like It. She read it sitting down and with very little enthusiasm. I asked her what was going on, and she said that she really wants to work on memorizing the piece before she works on it very much in class. While I would rather we work on it even before that, if she doesn’t want to, we won’t. She doesn’t seem to be disliking the class – I think she’s just nervous about getting so far out of her shell, even though I gave her a piece to work on that is exactly what she was asking for. We’ll see how she does next week.

Then our other Antony performed. Her first read was good, but it was very fast and didn’t have a lot of specificity. I encouraged her to find the key words in the speech and linger on them, slowing down and really fighting for attention. She did, and the piece was stronger. Then she performed a third time, and a fourth, gaining steam each time. The piece has finally “clicked” for her. She had a huge smile as she sat down again.

Next was the participant working on the King’s monologue from Hamlet. She gave a good read, but said afterward that she was getting stuck because she’s spent so much time analyzing the piece that she is finding it difficult to get out of her head. I told her to try to put aside everything she’s done analytically, that it would still be there, but she shouldn’t focus on it, and encouraged her to go from her heart. Her next read wasn’t great – she was still stuck. She’s going to work on memorizing the piece so she can let go more.

Since now we are meeting twice a week, we have a lot more rehearsal time, and I asked the participants if they would like to work scenes along with monologues for their August performance. The answer was a resounding yes, so I am going to work on finding some good scenes for them.

At the end of class, I asked them how we’re doing and if there’s anything I can do better for them. Everyone said that they are enjoying themselves and don’t know of any improvements that can be made. One of the newer participants said that, even though it’s only been a few weeks, she’s getting a lot out of it and is having a great time.