January 15, 2013

Today we played a new game that proved to be a lot of fun.  The group then decided to begin work on Act I Scene ii, beginning with Prospero and Miranda. The participants who have been in the group for awhile have clearly been giving this play a lot of thought. When I asked them what the scene looked like in their heads, several of them suggested that everything should be made out of materials salvaged from the boat in which Prospero and Miranda were wrecked – barrels fashioned into chairs, a tent or their roof made of sails. These are great ideas, and we’re going to see what we can do about representing them in our performance.

We went through the scene very slowly to make sure that the participants fully understood all of their lines, and it is a testament to the group that no one got impatient with this approach. We talked about clues in the text – why does Prospero need to ask Miranda to sit down twice? Why does he repeatedly ask her if she’s paying attention? The group tossed around several ideas about this, and the participant playing Miranda is going to try some different things until she finds what works for her.

After going painstakingly through a good portion of the scene this way, one of the participants suggested that we go back and let the women on stage go through what we’d done without interruptions. We did this, and it went very well, but the group was concerned that there wasn’t enough movement and it would be boring for an audience. We talked about ways to incorporate some movement that would still seem natural, and then one participant suggested that perhaps the other actors, dressed as “spirit versions” of the other characters, could act out the story that Prospero tells in a different area of the stage. That way, even audience members who might have trouble following the language could understand what he is talking about. I saw a lot of eyes light up at this suggestion, and mine probably did, too. We are definitely going to use this approach to the scene.

I made sure at this point that everyone knows that any conceptual ideas like that are completely welcome and encouraged. This is their show, and I want them to own it. They are absolutely growing in that direction.