Written by Matthew
“Juliet want Romeo to know that she for real,” was the consensus tonight, as summed up by one of the participants.
We rehearsed the famous scene at Juliet’s balcony. The language of this exchange is uncharacteristically straightforward, so we were able to jump in quickly and begin discovering more about the characters. Some women have already set their sights on specific roles, so we have ready volunteers for the lead roles.
Before approaching the scene, though, we warmed up with a game of questions: someone starts by asking a question directly to someone sitting to their left or right. That person must then, without stopping to think, ask a different question of someone to their right or left—yes, including the person who just asked them. Since no one answers the questions, it’s more of an improvisation exercise than a “getting to know you” activity. If you can’t think of a question immediately or break down in laughter, you’re out. A few women were ruthless, pointedly targeting a neighbor with a barrage of questions. A few rounds of that, and we were ready to go.
The women first fixated on the fact that Juliet enters the scene by speaking a revealing speech about her feelings for Romeo, ending with the provocative “take all myself.” We discussed how she was vulnerable in the moment, unaware that Romeo is looking on as she fantasizes. When Romeo interjects at that moment, she is taken aback as well as overjoyed.
We focused on the intensity of Romeo and Juliet’s feelings for each other and on how they express those feelings in different ways. Romeo shows his infatuation by waxing poetic about Juliet’s beauty, her sweetness, anything to praise her. Juliet is more practical, suggesting that they wait. One woman pointed out that, although Romeo risks his life to see Juliet, she stands to lose more from their forbidden relationship than he. The women agreed that she must worry about being cast out of her home, about her current betrothal to Paris, and about the fact that Romeo, as a boy, is allowed more free rein than she is at that time.
Two women performed the scene when we were done. We talked about how Romeo should make his entrance and how Juliet should react. As they read, the women on stage added their own flair to the conversation, Juliet self-consciously rambling while Romeo waited anxiously to get a word in edgewise.
The scene seems to be fertile ground for staging and character development ideas for the group. Now, we just have to figure out how to make a balcony.
We were delayed getting into the facility today, but the women once again showed their commitment and growing ownership of the group by being very productive while they waited for us. The group warmed up and played two improv games that we have already played this session. The “veterans” then taught the rest of the group two other games that have to do with characterization and physicality.
We then arrived and worked a bit more on the balcony scene. We discussed what Romeo and Juliet want in the scene, and the obstacles that are in their way. The group now feels that they have a firm grasp on the scene, and they are ready to move on.
I am very heartened that the “veterans” took on the task of teaching new games, which is often a challenge even for those of us who teach improv on a regular basis! That they were able to work together to accomplish this speaks volumes about how they already function as a team. We are ready to add some new people to the group and hope to do it soon.