June 26, 2012

This week was really great for our group. They showed a lot of growth and a deeper understanding of the work they are doing. We started off with a warm up and a game, by request.

Then we moved onto the scene featuring Iago, Emilia, and Desdemona with one participant standing in for Desdemona, since that participant had to leave and come back. The scene is progressing very nicely – the participant playing Iago has been doing character work on her own and it definitely shows. Then the really great thing happened – the rest of the group starting giving direction on the scene. The participant playing Emilia had been exiting after her lines, and someone said, “I don’t think you should leave. You need to stay and protect Desdemona.” We did the scene again, and it worked very well. Then another participant said, “I think you need to change which chairs you’re sitting in to make it physically easier to do what you need to do in the scene.” We tried it again with that direction, and, again, it improved. I love that they are giving each other direction with such insight.

In addition to this, the participant standing in for Desdemona, who has a learning disability, spoke the language very fluently. She is getting so much better at this; becoming more comfortable with the heightened language. We all remarked on how awesome this is, and she seemed surprised and happy about it.

We moved on to Othello’s monologue. The participant playing this part wanted to try it without her script, with me on book for her. She made it almost all the way through without help, but she was a bit hesitant with the acting. Doing it that time with only one mistake gave her a lot of confidence, though, and the next time she performed it was the best yet. Everyone was impressed, and we told her so. She is feeling very good about the piece, and very pleased about the feedback.

We then worked the King’s monologue. We talked about images that the participant can bring up in her mind to help her really connect with the language. I also encouraged her to try an exercise in which she changes direction with each change of thought – so going to the right follows thoughts of damnation, and going to the left follows thoughts of hope. She tried it, and it was a bit muddy, but she got the intent of the exercise. She is going to work more on that on her own.

We then worked with one of our Antonys. She is still rushing this piece. We sat down and really analyzed the monologue again, and then I pointed out to her that almost all of the words in the piece are one syllable, most of the remaining words are only two syllables, and only two words in the whole thing are more than two syllables – and those are words referring to the people she is trying to undermine. This definitely made a light bulb go on for her – she realized that she does need to take it slow because the language is so percussive and forceful. We are going to work more on this, and I really think it will help her because now it’s not just me telling her to slow down – it’s the text itself.

Our Jaques took her turn next. She is about half memorized, and where she made mistakes she was largely able to go back and fix them without help from me. She’s still having a lot of fun with this, but she never wants to perform more than once, and we are going to have to start encouraging her to do this more, since she’s really not getting enough rehearsal.

Then the Emilia with the learning disability did her piece. She did it without her script, and with me on book. She did a really great job, only stumbling a couple of times, although she did skip over an entire section. But she kept going, and we all noted that if we didn’t already know the piece so well, we would have had no idea she skipped anything. She performed again, and did better that time. She said she was still frustrated, and getting more frustrated. I pointed out that she is doing a great job, period, just by being brave enough to get up there without her script. It’s a scary thing to do, but she’s doing it, even though she knows she will mess up here and there. After I impressed upon her how well she is truly doing, she seemed to feel much better.

These women impress me more and more all the time. I have no doubt that they are going to completely wow their audience when they perform in August.