After a warm up and a game, we got down to business. The group decided to keep working with Macbeth and Ariel for now, and then, when we’ve added more people, to move on to a monologue that we looked at last session but nobody chose – Anne’s “Set down, set down your honorable load…” from Richard III. But in the meantime, we went back to the pieces we introduced last time. We began with Macbeth. We broke down the piece again and reviewed the back story. Then one of the participants volunteered to read. We were sitting in a circle, and she got up and walked around the stage while she read. She reflected that she felt that she had been “aimlessly wandering” and wasn’t sure what to do with her hands. We talked about finding reasons to move in the piece, and I assured her that we would work on what to do with our hands. The group remarked that they liked how she had taken her time, and they admired her diction, which was very clear. We discussed clues the text gives us about Macbeth’s emotions.
Then one of the veterans asked if she could perform her piece from last session as an example of how one eventually can become comfortable and not worry about one’s hands, and so forth. This is one of the women who performed Emilia’s monologue from Othello. She performed, hardly missing a beat, even though we haven’t worked on it in a month, and it was great. The newer participants really admired the work she had done – the obvious confidence and stage presence.
Then I asked another veteran present if she wanted to do her piece, which was Antony from Julius Caesar. Of course she did – she loves that piece! I asked her if she thought she might need me to be on book, if she might have forgotten any of the lines. She replied, “Probably, but I’d rather do it by myself.” She performed the piece with as much power as she ever has – it’s really remarkable how intense and strong her delivery is. The group was thoroughly impressed. They observed that they could see her emotion in her eyes, and that the whole performance projected anger, indignation and power. She said that she was able to do that because the piece touched her deeply, having lost someone herself. She also assured them that she had been worried about her “habits,” too – for her the main thing is talking too quickly, but she’s gotten better at it.
We then moved on to Ariel. The first to read before we broke it down was the participant who’s been with us since February, who has been open about her learning disability. I can hardly believe this is the same person who was so hesitant to read back when we began the program – now she takes every opportunity to read aloud, voice her opinion and perform. She has grown so much.
We ran out of time while we were breaking the piece down bit by bit and will continue during the next session. I think it was a very positive thing for the women who’ve been in the group for awhile to share their previous work with the group, and, if they want to, I will encourage them to do it again when we add new people from now on.