November 9, 2012

We read through Act Three today, which is much shorter than either of the first two acts, so we got through it pretty quickly. The group decided to try to get through Act Four today as well, but to take a break and play some games first. We played a circle game to loosen up and be silly together, and then we played the improv game “Freeze,” which one of them suggested. They did very well with this game – in fact, it’s one of the few times I’ve played it with a group when we didn’t have much to say at the end about how to improve in terms of making the game effective. Nearly everyone participated and showed how imaginative they can be. The comfort level in the group is increasing, with even the participant who is extremely hesitant to take part in activities taking a turn onstage. We then read through Act Four, which is also fairly brief, and so we had a bit of time at the end for discussion. The women were especially impacted by two things. One was Prospero’s speech in which he says “we are such stuff as dreams are made on.” They really liked how human he seems in this moment, as opposed to what has gone before – he seems more vulnerable here, and we talked about how he arrives at that change. It will take much more discussion to arrive at any group conclusion, but they are intrigued.

The other thing that really struck them was the character of Caliban. They feel that Prospero and Miranda don’t understand him, or try to understand him – that he has human emotions, but doesn’t know how to react to situations except with violence or anger. Some of the women brought up that they know fellow prisoners who are in similar situations – these people have been deeply affected by the circumstances in which they have lived, and it’s not always easy to judge how much of what they say or do is really “their fault.” The women hold that there is a “glimmer of good” in Caliban, which most agreed is true of the people they know who remind them of this character. This is also something that we will explore much more, especially since it is hitting home for so many of them.