June 29, 2012

First thing today, I encouraged and challenged the participants to take more ownership of the material and begin to give each other really detailed feedback. I said that I wanted to talk less and for them to talk more, so that I would become more of a guide rather than a teacher. A participant whom we all thought had dropped returned today. She said that she had talked with her mother, who “talked some sense into” her, and she is now fully committed to the class. She will be narrating the piece, as she is not yet comfortable with the Shakespeare.

After a warm up, we decided to begin with the participant playing Jaques because she has not given herself as much rehearsal as she needs. Her first performance was kind of in and out, so we talked about what she needed to do to improve. The participants pointed out that when she is more animated, the piece works better. I suggested that she come on with more energy and pompousness. She did this, and the improvement was remarkable. We noticed that when she performs this way, she has less trouble with the lines. She said that she pretty much has the lines down, but when she gets onstage she has trouble remembering them. I told her this is exactly why she needs to do this more in class. She also said that she has no one in her unit with whom to rehearse, and a couple of the participants spoke up and reminded her that they are in her unit, and they would be perfectly willing to work with her.

Next was one of the Antonys. Her performance is very strong and powerful. One of the participants noticed that she is pacing back and forth, which is fine, but only from center to stage right. She said that, this way, she is leaving out all of house right. So Antony tried to modify her pacing to include stage left, but this threw her off. The participant who originally suggested changing the blocking suggested that she shift her “center” to be more stage left, but Antony said this would take away from her power, which she finds at center. I suggested that she keep with her blocking, but make sure she is staying physically open to the entire audience. That worked.

Then one of our Emilias took her turn. Her piece was lacking a little bit, so I explained the three centers (thinking, feeling and willing) and asked her to focus on bringing her energy out of her willing center. This improved the piece – she liked it a lot. Then the other Emilia brought up that this Emilia is adding words to the piece, which we decided didn’t really matter. But the performing Emilia added that the one who gave the note should give herself a pat on the back for knowing the piece well enough to notice that.

Then we worked the Nurse/Juliet scene. The first performance was a little awkward, so we discussed stage positioning and physicality. They also decided that they should both sit for the majority of the scene. This worked very well. They are becoming more animated and are having a lot of fun.

One of the participants, who is playing Hermione, told me that she did not want to perform today because a friend of hers recently died and the funeral was today, and she was just too sad. This friend is the younger brother of another friend of hers who died, and she said that she was analyzing her feelings so that she could utilize them in her piece.

During this conversation, which was not entirely brief, the rest of the participants were giving each other notes on their scenes, which is great. All in all, the feedback they gave each other was very constructive and well thought out.