October 23, 2012

A couple of new participants joined the group today. We began by welcoming them and warming up. We then played an improv game that the women who’ve been in the group for awhile really enjoy, and that proved to be a lot of fun. This is a very creative group. The first participant to read showed that she understood the piece, but she said she felt awkward, and like she was reading it. The others commended her on her pace and articulation, but I asked her why she thought she wasn’t connecting to it. She said that she is having trouble with the vulnerability of the first part, and struggling with the anger in the second because anger is the easiest emotion to portray, and she didn’t want to overdo it. I reminded her that her interpretation is hers alone, and it’s all about experimentation – not doing it right. Her second reading was much better – she said she had been directing it, especially the words “hated wretch” to someone she knows. One participant encouraged her, saying that she was definitely making it her own.

The next participant to read showed a huge improvement over her last reading. Everyone applauded, and she said that she had been working on it a lot outside of the group. I asked her how she felt she had done. She said that she felt that she needs to work more on her physicality, but that the words are coming out smoother. One participant asked her to try the first part of the piece again – to try more to “embody” the character. There was a huge change, and I asked her how that happened. She said that she took a pre-beat to think about things she’s lost while she’s been in prison and the death of someone close to her.

Next was a participant who had not yet performed, and who has been fairly quiet and uninvolved. We were all actually a little taken aback when she volunteered, and everyone cheered her on as she took the stage. Though clearly nervous and stumbling over some of the words, she read the entire piece with a  strong voice. When she finished, everyone applauded loudly. I asked her what it was like. She said that she had been waiting to perform until she felt more comfortable with the group, and that she has stage fright. I asked her if it had been as bad as she thought it would be, and she said no. One of the participants remarked how important it was that she had gotten all the way through the piece, and that she had gotten stronger the more she read. Another woman, who knows this participant fairly well, talked about how impressed she was. She said that this woman is an “anti-type of person” whom she’s never seen volunteer for very much; she actually didn’t think she’d stick to this group. She said she was completely surprised when she volunteered, and that this was a huge step. The participant who read declined to read again, but she clearly feels better now that she’s done it once and received so much support. We all cheered and applauded again as she took her seat.

One of the participants who joined today volunteered to go next. She said that she had felt awkward because the words were confusing, but the rest of the group praised her just for getting up in front of all of us on her first day and reading. The other new participant volunteered to go next and had a similar experience. We made very sure to emphasize how much we appreciated their willingness to dive in like that.

The next woman to perform gave a very truthful, emotional reading. She said that she had “just put herself into it.” Others said it looked like she was really feeling it – that it flowed, and she had made it her own. We also applauded her for taking the notes she received last time she performed, when the group thought she had focused too much on anger in the first part of the piece. She took that in, adjusted, but did not do anything that felt false to her. She is still drawing on her own experiences. One of the participants remarked that she did a good job of keeping going when she skipped a line – and the woman who read said that she had actually skipped it on purpose to see if we were paying attention. Of course we were!

The next to read has been in the group since February. She was one of our Emilias in the last performance. She felt that her first reading was “okay,” but that she could have been more clear. She was happy about her pacing, though, and her being okay with taking pauses. I mentioned that at a point when she stood up in anger, it really seemed motivated, and not like she just decided as an actor to do it. She read again, and got much deeper into it, especially when she hit the phrase “untimely fall.” She was completely committed, even when the words didn’t come easily. She said that she felt better about it, and felt that she “hit” more emotion. Still, another participant who’s been with us for a long time said that she needed to commit more to the anger – that she knows she’s got more that she’s holding back.

Then the first participant who read today asked to go again. This reading was completely different – she got so emotional that she actually shook. She said she was trying to express the feelings inside, and by focusing more on hurt than on anger, she was able to do that better.

This was a great day filled with lots of discoveries. Friday we will being working on The Tempest. Everyone is reading and raring to go!