February 15, 2012

Today began with some housekeeping. I brought up to the women that, while we’re not exactly down to the wire, with our performances being tentatively scheduled for early June, we should probably decide on some deadlines. I pointed out that the women in the last session did not feel that they gave themselves long enough to work without their scripts, and asked the group how much time they thought they would need. At first, the deadline of May 1 was suggested, but then some others decided that an extra two weeks would be ideal, so we settled on April 15. I then brought up that we haven’t finished cutting the script yet – I made a few cuts before giving it to them, but wanted to give them the opportunity to make decisions about excising material as a group. They decided on a deadline of March 15 for that, so that they would have a month with the script in its final form while working on memorizing their lines. I think these are reasonable deadlines, and I’m glad the group came up with them so easily together. We worked first on the scene in which Antonio convinces Sebastian to kill Alonso and Gonzalo. We chose to do this because our Antonio has only worked once, and she was working with a stand-in because our Sebastian was not present. The participant playing Antonio is still reading very fast, so we did an exercise in which I called out “stop” and “go” to give her ideas of where good places are to pause. “Take time to really know what you’re saying,” offered one participant. “You have to manipulate her,” said another. “Mold her like she’s made of clay,” said another. All of these things helped a bit, but the participant is still having a really hard time slowing down and embracing the language. Not once, however, did anyone express frustration with her – there was nothing coming at her but support. I suggested that she speak her lines out loud as much as possible, even the ones of which she is unsure of the meaning, just to gain comfort with the language. One participant who lives in her unit offered to help her with this outside of class. Everyone praised the participant for making strides today, even though she is still struggling.

We then worked Ariel’s monologue some more. The participant playing the part asked if we could cut any of it. “What do you think?” I said. She said she really wasn’t sure – it all seemed important to her, but she is intimidated by how long the piece is. I opened it up to the group, and, after some discussion, we found only one line we were comfortable cutting – and not everyone agreed. They feel that every part of the monologue is important to the character and the story, and that to take any of it out will diminish the power of the scene. The participant playing Ariel agreed. I reassured her that she has plenty of time to memorize it, and, having used this piece often myself, I let her know that I was able to memorize it very quickly, and that it stuck, since it has such a great flow to it. I then asked her to read it in character. She was nervous to do so, but everyone encouraged her, reassuring her that we all knew it wouldn’t be perfect, and she shouldn’t feel any pressure.