We began today by following up on the discussion I had with a few of the women on Tuesday about some of the participants being more team players than others. Unfortunately, not all of the people who need to hear this were present, so we’ll need to talk about it again, but those present decided that we will complete this performance, and then everyone will re-evaluate whether or not they want to commit to the next round, which will be a full production. I made it clear that if people leave the group, there will be no hard feelings – if they’ve gotten what they wanted out of the group and want to be done, that is perfectly fine. One of our Emilias was all fired up and ready to go, so we began with her. Her first performance was very quiet, but everyone agreed that, in terms of her acting, it was the best and most truthful yet. The others encouraged her to speak up and to not be afraid to touch her scene partner. She took these directions very well.
Then our Narrator gave her material a try. She began reading in a very dry and rushed manner, so I stopped her and asked if she could give it a little more enthusiasm to get the audience excited about what they are going to see. She smiled. The next time she read was much better. We asked her if she’d like to try using the podium, and, when she did, she automatically became louder and her energy increased. She likes having the podium there to support her, so we’ll stick with that.
Next we worked the Duke Frederick/Rosalind/Celia scene. Since Rosalind was not there last time when we made some adjustments, the others caught her up on that. They were about to begin, when I realized that Celia, our “director” who has been making such incredible strides, was not holding her script. “Are you MEMORIZED?” I asked. She smiled and said, “Darn, I was hoping you wouldn’t notice till we were already in the scene.” She only had to call for line once – incredible for this woman who was so shy and insecure when we began in February. She was really feeling it, too. One thing that the other participants noticed was that the actors were anticipating each others’ movements and moving without proper motivation, so we tried it again with that in mind. The scene improved, as it always does with these women, and some of the participants remarked that Duke Frederick is actually “scary” now. Another suggested that Celia and Rosalind look at each other more throughout the scene for support.
Then one of our Antonys, who hasn’t worked her piece in awhile, performed. She got up there without her script, which was great, but she was so focused on remembering her lines that her acting definitely took a backseat. I encouraged her to let go of that – I’ve got her script in my hands, and I’m not going to let her flounder. The other participants identified parts of the piece that are the strongest for her, and we discussed what made them the most powerful. She tried again, and it was better, but she was playing with her sleeves and physically very tense throughout. Our “director” encouraged her to let her hands go and do whatever felt natural, as she would in a normal conversation or argument. She gave her some examples. We worked the piece again, and it got better. She says she is going to continue to work on freeing up her body.
Next we worked our Iago/Emila/Desdemona scene with someone standing in for Desdemona. Their first performance was too casual – they weren’t totally invested in what they were doing, which was evident in their body language and the lack of focus in their speech. The participant playing Iago asked me to read in for her so that she could see my interpretation of her character, since she is confused and frustrated. I did this, and she said it clarified for her what she should be doing. They tried it again, and it was better. Our “director” then adjusted their blocking (she’s so good at this!) and they tried it again. This time it definitely took off for Iago, who had the sudden inspiration to hiss the lines “Speak within door,” and “You are a fool. Go to!” at Emilia rather than saying them full voice. It was very intense, and very appropriate.
Then our King worked her piece. She was unable to attend the last two classes, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she launched in with a power I’ve never seen in her that lasted the whole way through. We were totally wowed. Her energy was huge, and we could really feel her frustration and desperation. The only issue she’s having is that she’s rushing, so we talked about finding places to pause and let the emotions drive her to her next line, rather than vice versa. We will keep working on that.
This was a very good day. Everyone is feeling very positive and doing great work.