Today we welcomed a new participant who is very enthusiastic about being a part of the group. We then played a silly game to loosen up. The participant who is now playing Caliban after the first to play this role left the group was very eager to get up on stage, so we decided to begin by working on her character, namely Caliban’s monologue. After discussing the character a bit, she and another participant mentioned that they were both having trouble dealing with Caliban’s attempted rape of Miranda. So how can the part be played without judgment? We talked about Caliban’s being conditioned by his life’s experiences to behave the way he does. The woman playing this character said, for many people, it becomes a situation in which, if you behave badly for a long time, you begin to feel you are not redeemable, so why try? “If no one can see past it, I’ll just be awful,” she said. Then the group discussed that this bad behavior can become a coping mechanism or “wall” – you become “perceivably evil” to others. One participant mentioned that Caliban may feel that his actions are justified because the world is against him, which, again, is very typical of people they know in prison. And the participant playing Prospero pointed out that, no matter what, Prospero will always judge Caliban on that one action – which is precisely what they don’t want people to do with them.
The participant playing Caliban then got up to perform the monologue. Her reading was fluid, and she clearly understood the material, but the group asked her to dive deeper emotionally into it. One participant asked specifically for bitterness. We urged her not to be afraid to go there – that she is in a safe place. The second time she read was much more connected. I asked her why she thought that had happened, and she said she had spoken more from her diaphragm, which allowed her to go deeper. Then the participant who joined today mentioned that it seems like Caliban goes from a bitter and angry place to more of a whiny place, and then he becomes wary. She is absolutely right, of course, and everyone was very excited that she was able to get that from the piece on her first day. So was she.
The others didn’t want to give the piece a try because they want to focus on their own characters, so with the little time we had left, the participant playing Gonzalo decided to read her “Were I sovereign” speech. She has difficulties reading aloud, but she is getting much better, and everyone pointed out how much easier the words seem to be coming for her. We also discussed some possible cuts, but we didn’t make any today.