We welcomed some new participants today, all of whom were enthusiastic and eager to participate. One of them is a returning participant from the first session. She is very happy to be back, and I’m glad she has returned.
After warm ups, we did introductions and checked in with one another. Two of the newer participants said they already feel that we have established a level of trust in the group that makes them feel like they get an escape from prison while they are together. That being said, because we had brand new participants today, we decided to postpone our trust-building activities until they are a little more acclimated.
We began work on the prologue and first part of the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet. Those in the group who grasped the material more quickly were patient with those who needed more time and clarification. We talked a great deal about whether Gregory and Samson would actually do the things they talk about, or if they are just talking a big game, and how that will be up to the interpretation of the women who end up playing those parts.
The group really likes this first scene, and the plan is to work more with it at the next session.
Sarah and I were a bit delayed getting through security and to the auditorium today, but when we walked in, the group was already warming up. This is a wonderful step for them – it shows clearly that they have already bonded and are feeling empowered. We continued the warm up and did a round of introductions, since this was Sarah’s first day and we had one new participant as well.
We played a couple of theatre games for focus and quick thinking, and then we moved on to improv. We played a game that we played last week, Freeze, and the women showed that they are improving already. One thing that we noted is that sometimes when one woman begins a scene, she isn’t clear about what is happening in that scene, the relationship between the actors, etc. We talked about why getting that kind of information out as quickly as possible is important, not just in improv but also in a scripted performance, should something go awry. We are going to do an exercise called Three Line Scenes at the next meeting to work on this skill.
We read through Act I Scene I again, discussed it briefly, and then put it on its feet to play with it. The first time through was a bit rough, but it gave the women lots of insight into the scene – where they should stand, entrances to use, physical commitment to a character, etc. The second time worked much better because, having done it once, they understood it better. They had more ideas for improvement after this as well.
This is a much better approach than if I were to direct them through the scene because it encourages them to take ownership of the material through their own experience, to learn by “making mistakes” and realize that that is okay, and to work more as a team to develop the scene. They did a great job, and I can’t wait to see where they take it from here.