As the second session of Shakespeare in Prison came to a close, the women shone through each performance and had extremely valuable insight into the program, how it's been a positive experience for them, and how it can improve in the future. What was remarkable to witness was, in each of the three performances, how the entire team came together to support each other through mistakes and growth alike. There were times when they sprang to the rescue of someone who needed help with a line or a cue, and times when we sat backstage ecstatic because someone finally "fell into" her part or unexpectedly went on with all of her lines memorized. They told a complicated story in a way that was well understood by most in the audience, and their efforts were applauded and appreciated by everyone who talked to them about the performances after seeing them.
Much more important than the audience's reaction were the feelings of the participants themselves. In our discussions, I tried to steer them away from focusing on the thoughts of others and more on their own experiences. They feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they've done, satisfaction with their work, and camaraderie with the team. Some who were stressed going in to the performances are now "sad" that the session is over, and some people who were doubtful about returning in the fall are more enthusiastic about giving it another go.
The women also gave very constructive feedback on what they feel works well about the group and how to improve it going forward. All of their suggestions will be taken into consideration when we come back in the fall.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people who made an extra, much-appreciated effort to help keep the program running and/or made loans of materials for the production. Without these wonderful people, the program would not have been nearly so successful.
The Awesome Foundation
Matthew Turner Shelton
Water Works Theatre Company
Barbie Amann Weisserman
And, of course, the staff at the facility who have been so supportive all the way through. Many, many thanks.
This blog will likely be pretty quiet for a few months, but we'll be back! Stay tuned...