May 17, 2012

Today after warm ups we briefly played a new game. It is a good physical and mental warm up game that everyone enjoyed, and it really woke us up. The first participant to go is working on Emilia’s monologue. This is our prisoner with the learning disability. She continues to improve her fluidity with the language, and comes at the piece with more sexiness and attitude every time. Everyone continues to be very supportive of her and gave her a lot of positive feedback on her work.

Next one of our Antonys got up to perform. She attacked the piece with a ton of power and really blew us away. She said that she was truly feeling the emotions in the piece today because a friend of hers committed suicide this week. She said that she has been defending her friend to other prisoners who show a lack of understanding, and she felt that she is doing the same thing in her monologue for Caesar. This is a very apt realization, and it is definitely fueling her fire in the piece. In her subsequent readings, she became frustrated again by stumbling over the words or losing her place, so much so that she decided to let it go for the day. She said she would try to memorize it, but then said that it might take her awhile because she, too, has a learning disability.

Then our Othello took her turn. She continues to gain power with every performance, so we began to talk about when she is in attack-mode and when she is not. She marked out the shifts in emotion in her script, and tried it again. We also moved the participant playing dead Desdemona so that her head would be closer to Othello. The changes were very evident, and the piece hit home more for her.

Then our other Emilia performed. She is doing a great job, but we decided we needed to add to it. One participant said that, since Emilia is so lusty, she should sit in a more casual position than she was. She tried that, and the piece improved. Then I decided to give her an image to work with – that of a wide, gaping vagina. I have learned from experience that this is a powerful image. I also asked her to sink down into her lower abdomen and let her energy come from there. The piece improved greatly. I can tell she is really starting to feel it.

Next was our Hermione. Her first read, as always, was wonderful, but she said that she still felt she could go further. One of the participants said that she is especially touched when Hermione talks about her baby, and we decided that she should try to bring out more of the sadness by really painting pictures of her lost husband and children. This time the participant dwelled on those images and let them shake her, and then she exploded with anger that she had had all of that taken away. It was fantastic. She declined to read again, saying that she needed to let things sink in for awhile.

Our King from Hamlet was next. She kind of rushed through her piece, but gained steam at the end and was very powerful. I asked her to try to pray more, to really look to the heavens and beg God for forgiveness, and then let out her frustration at not being able to receive forgiveness. She did this, which threw her off a bit because it was new, but the end of the piece was still great. She says she is going to continue to work on it with that approach in mind.

One of the participants, who is relatively new to the group, says it is already having a positive effect on her. She says that those around her say she is “speaking more proper.” And she loves that.