After welcoming a new participant and warming up, we played an improv game that involves singing. While some of the women were reticent to participate, others jumped in and gave it a try, and everyone was very enthusiastic about the work they did. What really impressed me was that most of the women willing to try this game were newer participants, one of whom was the one who joined the group today. This says a lot about their desire to try something different and to go out on a limb. I could tell that it made the others, who are weary of people joining the group and then leaving, feel better about these particular participants. We took some time to divide up into groups to work on the pieces they’ve been memorizing. After about fifteen minutes, we reconvened to go through each scene and see how everyone did.
The first group to go had worked on part of Act I Scene ii. They took on a very large portion of the scene with varying levels of success. The woman playing Ferdinand only had memorized a little bit. She readily asserted that this was because she hadn’t put much effort into it, and she knows she needs to do better in the future, but she isn’t worried about getting her part memorized. The participant who is playing Prospero memorized about two thirds of the scene, but got hung up at the end because the blocking there hasn’t been solidified. The group agreed that she could work out blocking herself to help her learn her lines, propose it to the others, and we would decide together whether or not it works. The woman playing Miranda had all of her lines completely memorized, but delivered them with no feeling whatsoever. This was cause, however, for amusement and reassurance rather than a reason for anyone to attack her – acting often goes out the window when lines are first memorized, and she knows that she needs to keep working on the lines so that she can play her character truthfully while saying them.
The next group had taken on a few pages of Act II Scene i. The participant playing Gonzalo, who has been in the group for over a year, said she found herself nearly going on autopilot and saying her lines from the last session. Although memorization is challenging for her, she did a great job, and everyone praised her for it. A very new participant who is concerned about her ability to memorize took on Francisco’s few lines and still found that she only remembered the first couple. She said she thought perhaps this was due to the method she was using, and the others advised her on other methods based on what they have done. She is not giving up! She will try other ways to memorize. Another recent addition had taken on Adrian’s lines, and she is comfortable learning his part, but doesn’t want anything larger. The woman playing Antonio only had a couple of lines in the scene, but feels good about memorization in general. She is getting more comfortable with the text. The other two participants, playing Alonso and Sebastian, found memorization to be very easy, and even to be an expression of their dedication to the group. The ease with which they have memorized their lines has made things easier for everyone else and will continue to do so.
The Master also worked her lines, which she has more or less memorized, with the help of another new participant. This new participant is eager to take on her own part, and she is going to look at the goddesses later in the play. The woman playing Trinculo ran through her first speech, and she did all right, but she knows she needs to put more effort in.
All in all, the group felt that this experiment in memorization and deadlines worked well for them, even those who did not know their lines perfectly. Everyone now has a better idea of how much they need to work on their lines in order to meet the “real” off-book deadline of April 15. No one regretted having tried this out.