We began with a brief warm up after some much needed venting on the part of the participants. Since she had to leave early, one of the participants performing Antony’s monologue performed first. We did an exercise in which every time she started to back off of her power, we shouted, “MORE!” This gave her added punch, which we all loved. We tried doing a slightly different exercise in which every time someone shouted “WHAT?” she would have to repeat what she had just said with more force, but this tripped her up too much, so we abandoned it.
Then one of our Emilias went. This is the one with the learning disability. She truly does better and better every time she performs this, and gets closer and closer to being off book. Her attitude in the piece is great, especially where she knows the lines. And where she doesn’t, she isn’t far off.
Our Othello was next. She thought she was totally memorized but ended up having to use her script, which frustrated her. She also added in something she’s been doing in her cell – backing into a chair. She says it really helps her to have a physical motion to go along with the words – this helps her remember what she’s supposed to be saying and feeling. This is very common for actors – needing to know their blocking in order to memorize lines.
We shuffled around some peoples’ roles in our scenes, so we decided to work a scene that one of the participants is just now picking up. This is a scene between Iago, played by this participant, Desdemona and Emilia. The first read was a bit rough, so we talked about what exactly is going on in the scene; where Iago should be trying to comfort Desdemona and where he’s trying to shut up Emilia. I also reminded Desdemona that she needs to be crying through the whole scene in order not to notice how Emilia is attacking Iago. The second and third reads improved significantly.
Then one of the participants who hadn’t been there for a couple of sessions took her turn working the King’s monologue from Hamlet. She started off a little weak but ended with a lot of power. We went over the thought process behind the monologue and how she could build it up, then completely change what she’s doing at the end with a plea to God to help her and calm her down.
We then decided to work another scene, even though the third participant had to leave before we got to it. So I stood in for her with the two other participants. Amazingly, even though we’ve only worked this scene a few times, they are on their way to having their lines memorized. They also talked about memorizing their cues, which obviously is important. We worked on raising the stakes with the scene, and they’re feeling very good about it.
We talked about the make up of our show and decided that since we can fill all of the parts in the scenes, we should include those. I am going to put together a script to submit this week.
We also talked about the level of commitment necessary to make the group work. There is one participant who has frequently been absent, although she says she is committed to the group. They are upset about it because they feel they should be taking care of each other and showing up every day if they possibly can. If she’s absent once more, I’m going to talk to the programs coordinator about it. If she drops, we should be able to manage without her.