January 4, 2013

Everyone was very excited to be back today! And very eager to get right into casting, so that’s what we did. We sat in a circle, and I reminded everyone that the goal was not to determine who the “best actors” are, but where each person fits best. I also asked everyone to do her best to stay open-minded and flexible while we talked, and to think of the group as a whole rather than simply “What do I want?”

The first thing we did was to revisit who is interested in each part. Some people have found new characters that they like, so we adjusted our lists. I then suggested that they proceed by casting each other rather than saying, “I want to play this part because…” This proved to be a great strategy because it took the pressure off of individuals and made everything we discussed a group decision. The group cast five characters (Caliban, Miranda, Gonzalo, Prospero and Alonso) with no debate. One person would suggest someone to play the character and give her reasons, someone else would agree, we would discuss it a little more, and then everyone assented.

The rest of the characters proved more difficult to cast because we could all see multiple people fitting each, and multiple people are interested in each. A few of those people are very new, so we decided to give them a few opportunities to read the characters so that we could get to know them better and get a better idea of where these participants fit best. This means that casting will take a little longer than we anticipated, but everyone is okay with that.

One really great thing that happened was when the group got a little quiet, and I suggested that one of them might be a good fit for Antonio. “Not because I think you’re like him personally!” I said, and she smiled. I pointed out that she has a natural charisma, stage presence and intelligence that would work well for a character like him. Everyone else agreed, and she thought about it. But then she said that while she appreciated our votes of confidence, she is at a place in her life where she would really prefer to focus her energy on a more positive character – she is trying to avoid negativity as much as she can in preparation for her release. Several of the women reacted immediately by thanking her for her honesty. She then said that she felt pulled toward Ariel. Another participant suggested that while she would probably be a great Ariel, that’s a pretty sizable role, and if she feels like her focus might be elsewhere, maybe it’s too big of a commitment. The participant thought about that for a moment and said, “Maybe you’re right.” She’s going to give it some more thought, but I was just so impressed by how accepting she was of everyone’s input, and how calmly and respectfully she expressed herself. She has occasionally rubbed others the wrong way with her demeanor, and we’ve talked about it privately a few times because it’s clear to me that she doesn’t mean to give the impression she sometimes does of disregard or even disdain, and her reactions today proved that she is learning better ways of expressing her feelings in the group.

We left feeling very good about the process thus far and excited to continue it in the next session.