After our warm up, the women playing Mercutio and Capulet informed the group that they have decided to trade roles. They are much more comfortable now and enthusiastic about the change.
In discussing our game plan for the day, one of the women mentioned that she was concerned about the prologue, specifically that the audience won’t understand it. After discussing a few different ways of dealing with this, a woman who has been in the group for a very long time was suddenly inspired and began detailing a really interesting concept in which the entire ensemble participated. The entire group turned the reins over to her, making suggestions when she got stuck momentarily but more or less following her directions. This turned out beautifully – we all worked together, and the staging of the prologue thus far (we got through about half) is poetic and helpful to telling the story.
We then worked Juliet’s monologue just before she takes the sleeping potion, as the woman playing that part was curious about where we can make cuts. After reading through it and talking about it, she realized that she really loves this monologue and doesn’t want to cut it after all. We worked through it a few times, guiding her as she strengthened her imagery and began to let the language overtake her. Her voice slowed and grew more powerful. She began to “feel the part.”
This was a very positive day, during which the feeling of the ensemble strengthening was palpable.
The group began something really great during the two weeks when I couldn’t be there, which is that now when we warm up, each person leads the group through one stretch or exercise, instead of warm ups resting on one person. We also took the time today to kick back and play a very silly, fun game to keep us on our toes.
The woman playing the Nurse then took the stage to work on her monologue in Juliet’s bedchamber. She has already memorized the first half of it and absolutely has the sense of the second half. We worked with her to further incorporate the bond with Juliet, the heart and attitude of the piece, and the humor. The more we encouraged her to let it all hang out and have fun, the more hilarious she was to watch. And the woman playing Juliet reacted in priceless ways – clearly with affection, but rolling her eyes. These two women are friends outside the group, and their bond enhances what they do together on stage.
We then worked a bit on Act I Scene I, making some judicious cuts and working at finding the hatred these characters have for one another; finding a justification within the characters for their violence. The women are a bit hesitant to be quite as hostile toward one another as the text demands, which is something we’ll work toward. As long as we all know we’re in a safe space in our group, we should be able to go wherever we need to go on stage.