July 17, 2012

At the beginning of the session today, the participants talked about how the scenes and monologues are “taking over” their lives. They are quoting Shakespeare all the time and finding parallels between their pieces and real life frequently. We began today with our Emilias. The first one has gotten much quieter with her delivery, which she noticed before we even told her. She stumbled over her lines a bit, got frustrated, and decided to take a break while the other Emilia took a turn. This participant continues to do very well, so we asked her to find more of the anger in her character about the abuse she’s suffered, and that Desdemona has suffered. She also found that the other Emilia’s reactions to what she was saying helped her quite a bit. Then the first Emilia tried again, and took the note we gave the other Emilia herself, interpreting it slightly differently. It did a lot for her. Both Emilias agreed that working as a team like that has helped them quite a bit.

Then one of our Antonys took her turn. Her performance was not as good as it usually is, which she said was because she was so tired. She decided not to perform again today, but to try it again when she has more energy. She also informed us that she will be able to memorize her monologue, but not her scene. This is disappointing, but at least she is still willing to perform with a script in her hand. I think the experience will be valuable to her that way as well.

Then we rehearsed the Nurse/Juliet scene with me standing in for the Nurse again so that the participant playing the part could see an example of how to interpret the character. She said this helped a lot. Our participant who has become a director pointed out some good adjustments that the participant playing Juliet could make to make the scene more believable – particularly looking around constantly for the Nurse before she arrives, like anyone would in that situation. One of the other participants also pointed out that the 1930s version of Romeo and Juliet would be on TV that night, and they all decided to watch it. I warned them to watch it with a grain of salt, since the acting style was so different then, but to take away any good ideas they could glean from it.

Then we rehearsed the Duke Frederick/Rosalind/Celia scene with me standing in for Rosalind since the other participants present did not want to do it. This scene went pretty well, but one of the other participants had an idea for changing the blocking that made total sense and increased the impact of the scene. I was very glad that she volunteered her help there.

One of the participants left early without performing, and another also left early. Those who were left then expressed their frustration with those participants, along with a few others, who do not seem to truly be team players. Apparently there has been some eye rolling from one of them, which I have not noticed. The women with whom I talked are also questioning their commitment and say that the lack thereof, in addition to some attitude issues, are beginning to make the class not feel as “safe” as it was before. One of them said she is even considering not coming back after the August performance. I really don’t want that to happen – this particular participant has experienced a tremendous amount of growth, and I’d hate to lose her. We decided to get through this performance and then re-evaluate if these people should be allowed to stay in the group as we look to add more people who are totally committed. We’ll have to continue to give this some thought.