April 16, 2013

Today was a challenging day for the group. The participant who is playing Prospero came in with doubts that she will be able to memorize her lines due to stressful circumstances in her life. I asked her if we could have an open discussion as a group, and she said yes. After she explained what was going on to the group, they were nothing but supportive and reassured her that, no matter what, she will not be a failure to them. They encouraged her to just do what she can and not stress about it. They know she is working hard. One participant had a great idea to put Prospero’s script in a “book of spells” that the actor can carry around with her, which will make it less obvious that she is reading lines.

When a couple of the others stated that they are also concerned about memorization, I mentioned that, if they can get mostly off book and only have a few trouble spots, they can put those lines that need to be read on index cards so that they don’t need to carry around large pieces of paper. They were relieved by this suggestion, since they think carrying around a script will look bad.

I reminded them that no matter where they end up in terms of memorization, they have taken on a challenge and they are going to succeed to the best of their ability – and that it is incredibly impressive that they are doing this, memorized or not. I reminded them of when a participant in the last session had to start her scene over twice in performance, but after she got through it on the third try, she got the most applause out of everyone. Everyone who will be in our audience will see how difficult it is to do what these women are doing, and they will appreciate their efforts no matter what.

I also gave them the option of delaying, altering or canceling the performance, but they were unanimously and adamantly opposed to that.

We spent some more time encouraging those who are having a difficult time, whether it’s in the group or outside, and then decided to spend the rest of the time working on lines individually or in pairs. Interspersed with actual “work” were more words of encouragement and “pep talks.”

While it is difficult to get through a day like this, it is important in that it brings the group closer together. There’s no bravado here, and everyone wants to help everyone else. I didn’t hear one word of criticism or blame for the challenges people are facing. This is a solid team at this point, working toward a common goal. For some of them, this is a wholly new experience, and, even with the challenges, it is a positive one.