Catching up through June 4, 2013

My apologies for the lapse in blog updates! Here are some highlights of what the group has been up to. We have had to change our "rehearsal schedule" a couple of times due to absences, but this has enabled some more detailed scene work, particularly with Caliban and Prospero. With volunteer Bethany's help, we were able to find some new blocking that works much better for both women, causing one to say, "Now we're doing it the way I interpreted it from the beginning."

We were able to run the first half of the play last week, and it took only slightly longer than the time for which we were aiming. We also didn't have to stop and correct things very often, and, even with scripts in hand, all of the women are doing excellent work. They know their characters and the story, and they are telling it well. After that day, everyone was visibly relieved and voiced their renewed enthusiasm and encouragement. Although we continue to have challenges, most members of the group are relaxed and ready to show an audience what we've been working on. Some have more concerns, but everyone is enthusiastic.

We've talked a lot about commitment, discovering that the the more fully committed people are, even when making mistakes, the more enjoyable they are to watch. We've also talked about commitment in terms of the group as a whole, as we've lost a couple more participants at the eleventh hour. Some of the women have ideas about ways of increasing dedication in the next session, and I'll be doing some brainstorming on that over the summer as well.

Bethany wrote her reflections on that discussion, which was initiated by one of the participants:

"The woman playing Caliban stated at the end of our time, 'How do we get our program to be like that?' The ‘that’ she was referring to was the Shakespeare Behind Bars documentary Frannie had screened for them at the beginning of the program. She was referring to a deeper sense of accountability and dedication to the program, more focused efforts and acting, with a hopeful pay off of some heart breaking and mind blowing story telling. This woman called out the group at large, but also included herself. She stated that she has not always done right by this group and for this program. Her insight, honesty, and hope sticks with me. Because it doesn’t really matter how theatrical their performances are, how well memorized, how thoroughly they understand the material. What does matter is a commitment to excellence and a belief that it is in our own hands."