November 13, 2012

Today a woman who has been in the group since April let us know that she’s gotten a job that conflicts with our time together, so she will not be able to continue with the group. She spoke about how much she’s enjoyed her time, about how much she’s learned and what it’s meant to her, and she wished everyone success. “I’ll be in the front row at the show!” I made sure to tell her, and everyone else, how much we've always appreciated her positive attitude, dedication, and patience with everyone else in the group. She also mentioned that another participant, who left the group to try new things, has joined another group in which she performs, and the woman leaving today was struck, watching her perform, by what a difference there is in her now from when she began working with Shakespeare. No one could ever have imagined her performing in front of a group and having so much confidence. We finished reading the play, and we discussed it for a bit. The women identify strongly with Prospero’s dwelling on the past at first, and then deciding to let it go and work on himself. They say that this is the key to healing for many prisoners. They also love his epilogue – that, in the end, it’s “just him” on stage, and it’s so simple. We began experimenting with characters and physicalities, but some members of the group were hesitant to explore the play in this way, and several others had to leave early, so we decided to leave our exploration for the next session when we’ll have more people present.

We played a couple of fun circle games to get us thinking quickly and following our instincts. Then we let the woman who is leaving choose the last game, which was another quick thinking game that they love.

At the end, everyone took turns standing in the center of a circle while we all “uplifted” the person in the center – we used our arms to create an upward motion from the ground while saying, “woosh!” It sounds silly, but it is very energizing and positive. We wanted to go out on a really positive note.

People are gravitating toward certain characters, and it will probably be a challenge to settle on casting as a group. The women have been very open and respectful of each other, though, so I think they can meet the challenge and arrive at decisions with which everyone will be happy.