August 14, 2012

Today was my first day back with the women after having another facilitator fill in for me for two weeks, and I walked right into a very intense discussion. Attitude, spotty attendance and a seeming lack of dedication on the part of some were brought up, as they have been before. I reiterated to them that I really hoped they would all stick with it through their performance next week and then re-evaluate whether or not they want to stay in the group. One of the participants brought up that she is frustrated that not everyone has embraced the challenges of working with Shakespeare and being on stage. She said that she feels that the program is mostly about overcoming “things you put in front of yourself” and proving to yourself that you can do things you never thought you could do. This participant feels that not everyone is as gung ho about this as others.

We discussed the need to continue to support each other no matter what. One said that she feels that the participants shouldn’t have any say in who stays and who goes, that it should be my decision, but I told her that I really didn’t want to make those decisions without group input. The participant who was most upset stated that she may leave the group after the performance. We all asked her to think more about this – I was not the only one, then, who pointed out to her that of all of the people in the group, she is the one who has shown the most remarkable growth (this is our “director”), and we all feel she can grow even more if she sticks with it. Ultimately, though, this will be her decision.

The group began to get frustrated with the conversation and very much wanted to get working on their show, so we tabled the discussion and will continue it later. As we worked through the scenes and monologues, the tension eased and there was laughter as usual.

In trying to fit everything in, we moved pretty quickly through the pieces, but every piece showed improvement. The participants have decided to open and close the curtains between scenes, which is a nice touch. In particular, the participant doing Rosalind’s monologue has shown tremendous growth – everyone was totally wowed and could not praise her enough. A couple of the other participants are having memorization issues, so our narrator will be giving them any lines they forget while they are on stage. They would rather do that than perform with a script.

I have no doubt, based on what I saw today, that these women will give a great performance. I cannot wait for them to have the opportunity to show everyone what they've accomplished.